When I was in elementary school, I loved collecting Pokémon trading cards. I never learned to play the trading card game, I merely collected. Once in a while my parents would buy me a pack of cards, but most of the time I would obtain new cards by either trading or playing a game we came up with. In this game, you would toss cards in the direction of a wall and hope to be the closest to the wall in order to win your opponent’s card. I had a few cards that I considered sacred – that is, I would never use them in these games nor trade. Or so I thought.
Whereas my brother’s favourite first-gen starter was Blastoise, mine was without doubt Charizard. While I do not recall how I obtained my shiny second edition Charizard Pokémon card in the first place, what I do know is that I never imagined trading it. I had gotten many offers already, all of which I declined. Now keep in mind that in elementary school, we kids weren’t exactly the most intelligent of people. Plenty of idiotic trades took place by simply convincing the other person that your card was better than theirs for whatever reason. Up until a particular day I had never fallen for these tricksters’ arguments. I knew my Charizard was epic, having 120HP and an attack that would do 100 damage. Little did I know however, that there was a card in existence having not only an attack dealing 100 points of damage, but also a secondary attack dealing 20. By my child knowledge this meant that the new card was undoubtedly better than my Charizard. I had a hard time deciding whether I wanted to trade, since my Charizard was one of my sacred cards. “If I’m able to trade my card for a better one, then that’s the logical thing to do, no?” Turns out the card I traded my Charizard for was a shiny Camerupt. It’s not like I traded my Charizard for a Magikarp, yet still I traded one of the most iconic Pokémon cards that even my mother can name for one that only Pokémon fans will recognize. The first few weeks I even felt good about the trade. I liked my new Camerupt. I felt like my Pokémon team was stronger than ever. But the older I got, the more I began to realize that I had made a mistake.
A tiny part of my Pokémon Trading Card collection
One day during recess, my brother walked up to me and started talking about Pokémon cards. He showed me a new card he got and, to my surprise, gave it to me. I was really caught off guard. Mainly because I remember in my dark past, I would occasionally ‘grab’ a card from his collection and trade it, to remove all traces of me ever having ‘grabbed’ it. Back in the day I had no idea this was the principle behind money laundering. The card that my brother handed me was a Salamence, which I needed to complete its evolution set. To this day, I think of Salamence as my replacement Charizard. My most sacred card of my collection. The card that, at least this time, I really won’t trade.