This weekend’s newspaper column -I’ve finally learned to just go with Pokemon

I’ve done it, again.

I’ve publicly shamed my wife for the umpteenth time.

A colleague of hers walked into her office Thursday morning and asked, “Was that YOUR husband walking around downtown playing Pokemon?”

Before you start judging, please note that I wasn’t home parked in my favorite chair and passively binge-watching “Star Trek” episodes I’ve already seen hundreds of times.

I was actually out walking.

Around town.

Taking time away from my busy nap schedule and GETTING SOME EXERCISE.

On a certain level, my wife should be pleased that I showed enough initiative to get out of my chair this week, even if it was to hunt down cartoon monsters from a video game.

But I also suspect she would prefer I not be so obvious about “Pokemon Go,” the incredibly popular smartphone game that’s revived the Pokemon franchise and dominated pop culture since its release this month.

Anyone who is only dimly aware of the game instantly knows you’re playing it when you walk by them on the street. That’s part of its charm and a source of its ignominy. My wife’s colleague certainly figured it out when she saw me wandering around downtown phone-in-face, but she wasn’t the first.

After I initially downloaded “Pokemon Go” last weekend, I persuaded my teenage daughter to roam the neighborhood with me.

Teenagers are helpful. They are Pokemon literate. They grew up with the game and many are as nerdy about it as I am about “Star Trek.” She explained the finer points of capturing Pokemon and helped me catch my first one in an open field near our house.

That’s when I looked up from my phone long enough to notice a car slowing down and the driver giggling at us. Then her passenger bellowed “Pokemon Go!”

I should have felt at least slightly self-conscious. I’ve spent the past 20 years happily scoffing at Pokemon even as I opened my wallet so my kids could play each iteration of the game. But that shout-out felt like I was being welcomed into the club. Pokemon has finally found a way to suck me in.

I am probably more surprised by that than my wife is ashamed. I just wish “Pokemon Go’s” power to motivate people to get outside and explore the world around them extended to yard work.

My son and I usually share lawn mowing duties. This summer, however, I’ve let him slack a bit. It probably has something to do with him leaving for college in a few short weeks.

Rather than simply ordering him to help, I’ve tried to gently shame him, simply pointing out several times a week that “I mowed the lawn for you … AGAIN.” It hasn’t worked.

I tried a different tack earlier this week. I showed him a picture of a Pokemon I bagged while mowing. I thought it might motivate him, but he just shrugged it off.

It’s probably just as well. There are countless stories of “Pokemon Go” players becoming so distracted by the game that they bump into other people and walk into doors, poles and even into traffic.

If I actually let him play the game while mowing the lawn, he’d probably just end up mowing through his mom’s flower beds.

And that, without a doubt, would mean the end of anyone in our house playing “Pokemon Go” ever again.

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This weekend’s newspaper column -I’ve finally learned to just go with Pokemon

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