I Never Should Have Picked A Favorite Pokemon

We put a lot of pressure on kids to choose their favorite things. Before they even have a chance to develop a personality, we’re constantly asking kids to decide their favorites. What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite food? Who’s your favorite Spice Girl/Jonas Brother/Teen Mom? We have a hard time relating to children because they don’t have jobs and haven’t yet learned to hate the government, so we quiz them about their favorite everything.

At a young age, I learned that it isn’t appropriate to say “I don’t know” when someone asks you about your favorites. I don’t actually have a favorite color, but when someone asks me, I feel obligated to pick one, so I say green. When you’re a gamer, everyone wants to know your favorite game, your favorite console, your favorite RPG, and of course, your favorite Pokemon. Long, long ago – five shitty presidents ago, in fact – I decided Umbreon was my favorite Pokemon, and I’ve regretted it ever since.

Unlike the color green, Umbreon actually is my favorite. I love the mysteriousness of Dark-type Pokemon, and I totally vibe with Umbreon’s edgy, loner energy. I get a flutter in my heart when I see Umbreon. I feel connected to this Pokemon and I can confidently say it’s my favorite one, but I have to admit it’s become a bit of an obsession.

My home is overflowing with Umbreon merch. I’ve got t-shirts, plushies, posters, skateboards, slippers, and hats. I’ve got two Umbreon hoodies and an Umbreon onesie – yes, with the ears. I seek out Umbreon tat at every convention, card store, and hobby shop I visit. My thoughtful, generous family inundates me with Umbreon gifts on every holiday. The collection you see above is just a small fraction of my ever-expanding Umbreon horde. It’s already too much, but I have no intention of stopping.

It gets especially bad when the Pokemon TCG introduces a new Umbreon card, like last year’s Eeveelution-themed Evolving Skies set, which featured six Umbreons. So far, I’ve only found one – the most common Umbreon V – and I’ve been scouring the internet for six month buying every Evolving Skies pack I can find.

I recognize that this is not normal behavior. Most people who have a favorite Pokemon don’t hoard figurines and plushies. For me, Umbreon has become a focal point for my Pokemon fandom. A consistent aesthetic that I can use to decorate with. A simple, easy to remember gift idea for my family around the holidays. As much as I criticize gamers for turning the games they like into part of their identity, Umbreon is for sure part of mine.

In the Pokemon world, everyone has one Pokemon they call their partner. Ash has Pikachu, Dawn has Piplup, Cynthia has Garchomp, and Marnie has Morpeko. I like to think of Umbreon as my partner Pokemon, which I express through consumerism, obviously. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be happier had I just said “I don’t know” the first time I was asked what my favorite Pokemon is. Would I have developed a stronger connection to more Pokemon? Would I even care as much about Pokemon as I do now? One thing is certain, I would have saved a lot of money by not buying so many Evolving Skies packs.

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