Do you remember pogs?
When I was about eight, a friend of mine brought me a gift from her trip to California. It was a round cardboard disc with a butterfly printed on it.
“It’s called a pog!” she explained.
“A what?” I asked. I was dubious, even as a third-grader. My dad once bought me a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words, “Yeah, right.”
My friend explained that it was popular game in California—we lived in Missouri—involving these round discs (“pogs”) and something called a slammer. The players would stack the discs and take turns shoving the slammer down on the stacked pogs (that’s not phallic at all), which caused the stacked pogs to scatter. The player who had thrust the slammer kept whatever pogs landed face up. The face-down pogs were re-stacked, and the next player took a turn.
I guess. That’s what Wikipedia tells me now. My friend didn’t know any of that. I never had a clue how to play it, but, man, those pogs were the rage. People collected them, traded them, played with them—I’m pretty sure they were eventually banned at my elementary school.
I had no idea what to think about them, though. I probably had one of the first pogs in Springfield, Missouri, but I never had a slammer (again with the metaphor—I blame Freud), and I never collected more than a dozen or so. I was completely bemused by the game.
Some of you who are a wee bit older than me could probably relate those pogs with the onset of puberty. Suddenly you have all these new things and feelings and no earthly idea what to do with them! …But they’re kinda cool and potentially fun all the same.
Not for me, though. They were just shiny and popular. Mostly I was following the teacup-human herd.
Now that I’m a grown-up, though, I wonder why I collected them at all. They were cool only because they were popular, and they were only popular because we’d been told they were cool. Do you remember playing pogs? Was it fun? Who knows! It was just one of those trends that comes and goes without any fanfare at its birth or its death.
We encounter so many conventions like this, things we’re “supposed” to do, because “everyone” says we should. In the end, we become victims to the fad-monster and forget to do what we really find fun.
A pog is just a round piece of cardboard, kids. And sometimes rules are just dressed-up inhibitions. Let’s kick those fruitless conventions to the curb!
Did you pass on pogs? Or did you play the game and find it fun? What other trendy demons caught you? I love hearing from you, so tell me all about it!