One Momís Take on the Long Beach STS

Once upon a Saturday foggy
as the crabs scurried
the deliverymen hurried
Team Diamonds made their way to the Queen Mary.

Poetic license aside, this is about as literary as I want to get.  Having flown in from Albuquerque to Phoenix to Ontario, rented the wheels for the smog, snail-paced drive to Long Beach, my anticipation was waning and I was exhausted.

Then I saw her rising out of the water and very long Ė the Queen Mary.  She was dressed in a Pokemon STS banner about three stories high welcoming all.  There was little Pikaís car and a life-sized prop of Mewtwo (is Mewtwo Pokemon really that tall?).  We used our most effusive, complimentary, cutest lines but staff wouldnít even provide a peek inside.

Sleep was fitful and filled with dreams of forgotten DCI books, dropped badges, lost kids and husband and forgotten killer decks.  Saturday morning, 7 am we were there, about 50 folk back from the first in line.  Impromptu games sprouted on the cement.  Adults touted their offspringís prowess as Pokemasters.  The line moves.  The line divides between invitees and 3-badge holders and attendees.  We move ever Slowbro-like around switchbacks till we finally register.  Now what?  Come back at ll:45, we will let you know!

We return and are held at the top of two sets of stairs.  Excited, pushing, yelling Pokemaniacs who have waited long enough.  We are let down the stairs and miraculously no one is trampled, much less injured.  Parents are seated away from their children if they were also playing.  The youngest in the crowd were admonished to shake hands before each match but I didnít hear anyone else asked to do this.  Twenty minutes, bam, itís over.

Throngs of kids, teens, parents milling around, waiting for postings.  No water available, no vending machine junk food.  Another twenty minutes, bam, itís over.  After this second round my 8-year-old daughter Shayna withdraws.  Sheís never done well in mob scenes.

My third game goes as the first two.  Fun, camaraderie and smiles with a few serious Poke-players.  Itís over and I decide to withdraw to stay with my daughter.  My husband withdraws to stay with our son, who is the only one oblivious to the mad house all around him, and heís winning.

Shayna and I did the STS activities:  pictures with Raichu, drawing new Pokemon, playing at the Pokemon League and watching the entertainment:  a couple from Chile who knew their pocket monsters quite well.  We earned lots of free boosters, which we received after standing in long lines that moved surprisingly quickly.  Shayna ended with TWO Charizards!

Meanwhile, Devin continues to do well.  He is among the final eight. So far he has consumed 3 soft pretzels, a bag of chips, an energy bar and lots of soda and water.  He lost in the final eight but got that great cap among other prizes.

If I could improve anything it would be the mob at the top of the stairs waiting to go down to see postings.  It could have been so dangerous.  As a mother, couldnít they have made arrangements for breaks of orange/apple slices or trail mix or something  for participants to eat without having to go off the boat to obtain any sort of food?  Also, anyone in a wheelchair could not have been secure in such a crowded, anxious atmosphere.

I would do it again though, in a heartbeat.  Competition builds future winners even if they lose and Iím talking about winners at the game of life.  Good sportsmanship and bad manners were displayed, and as a parent these provided excellent learning examples to our kids.

Oh, one more thing.  My kids thought the Wizards store was a joke, a nothing, and Iíd have to agree.

Mary Diamond