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Pikachu Loves Me, At Least For Now

December 30, 2003

I’ve read a lot of articles in the last few years pushing the 10,000 steps a day goal for better health. It’ll do your heart good, they say. It’ll lower your chances of getting diabetes and raise your good cholesterol, they say. Get yourself a pedometer, they say.

So I did. However, I am not as grownup as I look, so I have a pedometer from the toy department, specifically a Pokemon Pikachu Virtual Pet by Nintendo. (I am exactly as unhip as I look, which I why I still have Pokemon stuff years after the craze has passed). I’m on my second one now because I dropped the first one that Mr. Karen gave me one too many times and the screen cracked. It was so sad to see only half a Pikachu, plus I couldn’t see how many steps I’d taken because that’s the part of the screen that no longer worked, and that’s rather inconvenient in a pedometer. Once I got the new one, I attached it to a Solitude lift ticket leash that hooks onto my belt loop or tucks into my waistband and keeps Pikachu from crashing to the floor except on rare occasions. It’s worked so well that I haven’t had to break out the Pokemon Pikachu 2 that I picked up on eBay as a back up.

Pikachu gives me an incentive to move because if I don’t, I get no watts. If I don’t have watts, I can’t give them to Pikachu. If I don’t give Pikachu watts, he won’t love me anymore. I can certainly live without the love of a tiny cartoon character, but I am just a tiny bit happier when I don’t have to. Once I left Pikachu languish in the bottom of my bra basket for months and when I pulled him out, he had left me. Left me! I suppose that’s a good life lesson for kids in the target market of this toy to learn; pay attention to your near and dear or else they will get mad at you and eventually abandon you.

Accompanied by my little yellow companion, I march around all day and see if I can get to 10,000 steps. Most days, I fail rather spectacularly. A normal day of driving to work and sitting on my butt programming and driving home and sitting on my butt quilting or watching tv adds up to around 3000 steps or so. Fortunately, I can keep Pikachu happy on that. When we were in Tokyo (yes, I’m still talking about that trip, and likely will be for a long time; it’s genetic), Pikachu was ecstatic (at least I assume he was and would have said so if his screen were programmed to reflect that sort of thing) because most days I blew by 10,000 steps. I kept track in the little notebook I got at Loft, so I can confidently state that we averaged 20,817 steps over the nine days we were marching around. Well, confidently except I don’t quite understand why that Saturday was so low, only around 12,000 steps. We didn’t get that late a start; maybe it was the boat ride or maybe the pedometer was wedged in a position where it didn’t register properly.

Right now, Pikachu loves me even though my step count has dropped way down again. I just gave him 700 watts and he walked across the screen on top of a beach ball to say thank you. Some times he sits down and writes me note or does a back flip or plays the piano. Your grown up pedometers don’t do that, I’m sure. So maybe I’m getting inaccurate data from an imprecise piece of equipment, but at least I can get a little hit of entertainment whenever I want it. Some days checking in on Pikachu is just the ticket to break out of a stress cycle. If the price I pay is amused looks from airport security checkpoint personnel and coworkers, I’m willing to take that on.


A year ago, I wasn’t feeling well.

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