Joey named his Tamagotchi "Tiger" after the cat from An American Tale: Fievel Goes West, and the digital pet became his constant companion. Fueling Tiger required some ingenuity, but Joey quickly outsmarted his electronic buddy. The Pikachu can't tell the difference between being taken for a walk and tumbling in a rock polisher - any movement the pedometer registered was enough to keep it happy and healthy. Sitting there and shaking a plastic egg is boring, however, and watching it tumble isn't much better. Clearly another solution was required.
One of my family's dominant traits is our drive to make everything fun.
Mom initiates it, offering to take Tiger along in her purse as she runs to the library to get Joey a fresh set of books.
"Do you think Tiger would like to go on a short trip?" she asks.
Joey chokes back a giggle, comprehending the game that is about to be played and eager to use his imagination.
"Sure, I bet he'll miss me. But maybe he'll find a book he likes."
Two hours later, Mom returns with Popsicles and library books, including a children's Pokémon storybook. Joey is a bit too old for it, but it's just right for a young Pikachu who should begin learning about his roots.
A few days later, I'm stretching and lacing up my shoes as I watch Joey enjoying the shade while swaying on our rickety porch swing. Stopping halfway down the driveway, I look over my shoulder. "Hey little man, looks like your pet there is getting a little chubby."
Joey flicks the white, flaking paint chips from the swing off of his orange leg-cast. "Really? I don't think so."
"Oh yeah, he's a real porker. I thought he was a Raichu when I saw him this morning."
Joey's laugh validates my extensive knowledge of Pokévolution. Before he responds, I nab the digipet from him and sprint off on my daily run, making sure to take an extra eight minutes to get home. I return doubled over and gasping for air. Crawling up the porch-steps, I hand Tiger back and collapse with a theatrical wheeze.
"Joey, thank God you let me take him. I had an asthma attack halfway and Tiger had to carry me for three blocks. He's not a Pokémon - he's a hero."
Bill joins the game, too. He's about to leave for a backyard camping trip over at Jimmy Gray's. After he packs his gear into one of the Army-issue duffle bags our Grandfather gave each of us, he stops short of zipping it closed. He counts off the things he'll need for the night on his hand but just can't seem to remember some vital piece. Joey notices Bill's frustration.