Keep calm and use flamethrower

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This is an updated article, written by Karen Benitez, originally published at GameGulp.ph as part of celebrating Pokemon for over 20 years.

Flamethrower.

Oh lord, I hate that move. It’s so overpowered. I had blazed through most trainers with it. Even water and rock types can be knocked out with a solid, critical flamethrower. Sometimes I end up using Fire Blast, in the cases of Brock and Misty in Pokemon Silver. Yes, I used my Typlosion, a fire type against gym leaders that use rock and water type Pokemons, and it was glorious.

Every “Pokemon” game I’ve played I have chosen a fire type. It had nothing to do with fire types being cool, or red as my favorite color, often dyeing my hair red, it was just sheer coincidence that I liked the fire type starters. It almost seemed that Nintendo, Game Freak, the Pokemon Company, in general, give priority in designing the better fire type starters. Take a look at them, Charizard, Typlosion, Blaziken, Emboar, Infernape, Greninja — uh, yeah. I skipped the fire type in X/Y because it looked like shit. No offense to any users.

For the newer Sun and Moon, naturally I picked Rowlet. I’ve never been a cat person and the final evolution of the fire type.

Oh, flamethrower, right. So, my friend and I often experimented on different hairsprays, body sprays, whatever-sprays, and spray them on a lighted candle. The flamethrower effect that came was really cool. I remember my friend Jon toasting marshmallows with it — at least tried to — we never ate it though, at least, I know I didn’t.

Wait, we’re straying too far.

In my first ever playthrough in “Pokemon Red,” I hit the League with my team’s average level around mid-40s. My Charizard was in early 50s and had been the muscling through most of the battles. I’ve stocked up in shit loads of Hyper Potions, Full Restores, and Revives. Every fight against Lorelei, the next dude, Agatha, had been serious struggles, diminishing my supplies until I finally got to Lance. And he was the worst. I pushed through and when that failed, I switched tactics, I got a grass type and hoped to the Pokemon god, Arceus, would be merciful enough to let my Pokemon paralyze Dragonite with my Gloom’s Paralyzing Powder. Then I switched to my Vaporeon and used Blizzard — which wasn’t enough, and Lance OHKO’d my water Pokemon with Thunder.

It was a terrible run. But I did eventually knocked out Lance’s Dragonite using Charizard’s flamethrower. It was out of pure luck. I had run out of items and I’m almost out of money from constant defeat against the Elite Four. So, when I learned I still had to fight the Pokemon Champion, I flipped. I started a fresh playthrough. And this time, captured all legendaries (I killed all of them on my first run), and took my revenge against the Elite Four with wisely spent TMs and a better team all throughout. On an average mid-50 level range, the Elite Four didn’t stand a chance.

The next set of Elite Fours in other games were pushovers.

That was over twenty years ago. These days I still get to play with some of my old friends, across seas, sometimes even against their own kids. I don’t know if that’s sad playing against children over ten years younger than I am. But it’s still fun.

The meta game has changed a lot. At that time, I had no idea or even care things about IV stats and while children maxed out those hidden stats to breed the ultimate Pokemon, I have to procure a steady income to pay monthly rent and, you know, survive with decent living. I don’t get to game as much and I end up hanging out more with other people after work, having a drink or two with friends, take the bus home. In the morning it’s the same routine. If I’m feeling a little bit energized, I’d take my bike to work and back.

That’s my meta game. Though I never let that ruin my gaming lifestyle. And while looking after my friends’ kids once in a while, as the cool, carefree auntie, godmother, or big sis, they opened up to me.

One in particular, my godson, was bullied in school. He was taught to tell any grownups of any problems in school. He did before but the retaliation of the telling, to a child, was much worst. It was a death sentence. It seemed a simple thing to do. If someone’s bothering you, you tell someone else to tell that kid to back off. Maybe in a far simpler and ideal world that’s how it would have worked. My friend, Jon, had shared similar stories of his youth and if there was anything he learned then, telling on a bully, meant even more trouble.

I have faced bullies of my own as a kid. Both boys and girls. And if their parents were informed, often, they would point the blame on the kid being bullied — “Well, my son told me your kid started it,” or, “Impossible, at home my son is an angel.” The former is a way to justify their child’s actions, the second is either denial or ignorant bull crap — it means children are smart enough not to bare their teeth in front of adults.

“Punch him in the face.” I typed in the chat box.

“He’ll punch back, he’ll beat me, he’ll kill me.”

“Then kill him first,” I wrote back.

After a moment, realizing how I might have made things worse, I added. “Not literally! Don’t kill him literally! Delete this shit!”

“Delete this conversation please.”

“Please delete it.”

“Have you deleted it?”

“Can I see a screenshot?”

“Thank you! xoxoxoxoxoxoxo ;)”

I contemplated burning my passport to ensure I wouldn’t ever leave the country to visit them.

Anyway, flamethrower — in some parts of the world a bully has their psychological background, so they say. But in other parts of the world, in my case, a bully is a bully. They simply enjoy acting around as a boss. I remember people telling me to get to know the bully, understand who they are.

These are ancient methods. Maybe in some parts of the country there are bullies who undergo troubles of their own and vent out to other kids.

My experience was rather surreal. Talking never got anywhere and I had resorted to violence, ended up yanking another girl’s hair, clawing at each other that led to actual fist fights. Oh, how the guys cheered. We were 10-years-old then. So something like that was deemed exciting to watch.

When I grew up, that’s when things started to cool off, where talking really got us somewhere. It didn’t stop gossips and backstabbing though. To my godson, I showed him an episode of “The Simpsons” from the first season where Bart gathered an army to gang up on Nelson. I always thought that was the point of the episode. Stand up to bullying and if you can’t do it alone, get more people, and united you stand. A single bully, after all, has no match against an army. Unless of course the bully themselves has an army.

In attempts for peace talks, my godson established neutral grounds, right in the principal’s office where he had gathered other kids who had the same problem with the same bully. According to my godson: They and the bully with the principal had a long talk, and things settled down for a couple of months before the scene reverted back to “normal.” A second complaint occurred and this time the principal called in the parents.

Now, my godson was never physically bullied again. He got to keep his lunch, was never forced to take down notes for someone else, never had to worry every time he needed to take a piss. But the bullying switched to verbal. And that seemed worse. It destroyed his esteem. And kids being kids would pile on top of that. It was all just teasing, after all, they would say. It’s a miniscule scale of LAN connected cyber bullying, only isolated within the confines of the classroom. And if he had told on them, the verbal assault would get worse. No one likes a tattletale.

At this point it was time to play things smart. I don’t know the exact words I said to my godson. It’s probably the typical things adult say to children about bullies, ignore them, be confident, don’t let them bring you down. I like to think some part of that got through to him. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I tended to fight, and when things got worse for me, I made sure to make it worse for them too. It was never a pretty sight and that was something I didn’t want to pass on to him.

As much as I wanted to try to help him out of this situation. There really was no avoiding it. I felt I was beginning to speak out of terms. I was giving advice based on how I handled bullies. I fought. My hair got pulled. A boy punched me in the arm. The same boy years later had threatened to hit me if I broke up with him. More reason to dump him on the spot, and no, he didn’t punch me.

The sad thing is, but probably the best thing that had happened, my godson was moved to a different school. And quite frankly, I got mad, it was unreasonable anger. My friends only wanted to keep their son safe. I felt that the kid needed to fight back. It was a little heated conversation that my friend and his wife had thrown me in the miserable “seen zone” pit for months.

“Bitch, who does she think she is? She doesn’t even have kids.” Oh, the things I imagine they might have said to me at the time.

In about two years ago, they got in touch with me again, talked about the difference of a 3DS and the New 3DS, which had, given me the idea to write this. I guess it was just a reason for them to patch up the holes we left behind.

Of course I told them to get him the New Nintendo 3DS and recommended games that he could enjoy alone and with friends. We met up in a restaurant and caught up in what we had missed through those months and so on. Our catchup had been so fun that I was partially expecting it’d end up in a three-way and I wish it kind of had, cause that would have caused all sorts of awkwardness in the future, and a damn fine thing to laugh at when I grow up and tell my godson about it.

Oh, yeah, about my godson. It’s good to know that he made a lot of friends. We played Pokemon once in a while. Damn, the Internet is amazing. Our battles often end up with Mega Charizard X versus Mega Metagross or Mega Mewtwo or Mega Blastoise or Mega Charizard Y. I sometimes lost, I won once in a while, switching Pokemons, switching tactics, and all that shit. He messaged me just a few weeks ago, days before V-Day, asking me advice on what a girl typically likes.

“Ask your god damn mom,” I wrote back.

He said he did and is asking for second opinions.

From a lot of Pokemon, to bullying, and now he’s about to dive into the world of dating. The next thing he might ask is how to stick it in — oh hell, I hope not. Then he might ask advise what major to take in college, career, how to propose, and all that. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll figure it out by himself, like I did. I think that’s the way things often ended up. Maybe I’ll tell him that, but he’s always welcome to seek second opinions. It’s never out of the question.

I don’t have kids yet. But based on the things I’ve learned about them through my friends, is that they will always try to solve things on their own. It’s a damn respectable thing. If the worst comes, as an adult, you’d have to be there to guide them back around. Of course, this does not mean you could let them do anything they want. Of course you’d want to keep a close eye on them to avoid some mistakes some of us adults had made. It’s going to be cool and terrifying at the same time.

Flare Blitz. A powerful Pokemon fire type move that causes recoil damage to the Pokemon using it. Like how I handled my bully situation, I winged it, I took risks, and how I lived in my young adult years. Failure is always an option. The recoil can be bad but it can be as good. It’s all part of this fiery life, sending as much embers fluttering around the sky.

Honestly, that last part has nothing to do with the rest of the article. I just don’t know how to end this shit. So, I’ll leave it like this and F-Off now.

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