OK, Pokémon is cool after all

Pokémon FireRedSince I was in my mid-20s when Pokémon was created, I never really “got” it. The only thing I knew about it was the whole seizure thing. But then I had kids. Just before he turned 4, my son went through a brief-but-intense phase of obsession with the Pokémon cartoons and toys just before he discovered Mario and the video game floodgates opened, leaving all past obsessions (Thomas, Star Wars, etc.) in the dust (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor).

So as the video game thing took off, I bought him Pokémon FireRed for the Game Boy Advance, thinking I could tap into his pre-video game interest. I vaguely knew that the games were RPG-style, but I didn’t make the connection that, unlike in many games, where there’s reading but it’s fairly inconsequential, in a Pokémon game it is absolutely essential that you be able to read in order to play. Since my son’s still a pre-schooler, that didn’t work out so well.

Eventually, I decided to give the game a try myself, and I’ve become completely hooked. It’s kind of ridiculous, but the characters are tremendously varied and creative, with clever names, and the RPG elements of the game are solid and very well-done. What can I say, it’s fun!

But it wasn’t until I encountered one particular foe, that’s not only funny looking but very cleverly named, that I fully embraced the Pokémon world: I’m not even sure what it is, but it appears to be a purple, wheezing puff bag, with a very self-satisfied smile, oozing toxic fumes, named (I love this) “Koffing.” And here it is, in all its nasty glory. Apparently there’s a mutant evolved version named “Wheezing” as well.

Koffing More Koffing Koffing and Wheezing

Obviously I’m not the only person who appreciates Koffing’s unique appeal. He’s achieved the ultimate honor: an “ate my balls” page.

They’re long gone, but the olfactory memory remains

Ceci n’est pas un Tart ‘n’ TinyToday as I washed my hands in the office bathroom, I noticed that the building has changed the soap in the dispensers. The old soap was basically unscented (although it did take on an unpleasant rusty smell from the dispenser itself), whereas the new soap has a strangely familiar, slightly fruity scent.

I knew immediately that it was the smell of something I ate a lot of as a kid back in the ’80s. My first thought was that it was Pac-Man cereal, but I knew that wasn’t right. So as I walked back to my desk, I sniffed my hands, straining my brain to identify the scent. And then it hit me. I couldn’t remember what they were called, but I distinctly saw a long-gone Wonka brand candy. I described it to my coworkers as having “a sour taste and chalky texture similar to SweeTarts, and they came in a little box similar to Nerds, but they were tiny cylinders.”

So naturally I found my answer by googling “candy sweet tarts tiny cylinders,” which, equally naturally, led me to Wikipedia, and the answer: Tart ‘n’ Tinys. And then to the disappointing reminder that sometime in the ’90s, Wonka reinvented Tart ‘n’ Tinys with a disgusting Spree-like coating. What’s the point? The candy that I remember is no more. I can’t even find a picture online of what they originally looked like. All I have left is the lingering scent of questionable hand soap and the vivid memory of my tongue turning raw from sucking on 20 or 30 tiny, pointy, chalky cylinders at a time.