I saw a headline yesterday that made my blood run cold. I hoped it was just more fake news, but Lord, help me, it was true. GigaPets are making a comeback. In celebration of their launch, twenty years ago, Tamagotchi has reintroduced the obnoxious, digital devices. The palm-sized gadgets (created by technology-loving, mom-hating developers) are attached to a keychain, and display a tiny pet on a screen the size of a postage stamp. The pet has to be fed and loved, or it will “die”.
As I read, I flashed back to January 1998; it was the first day back to school after holiday break. My mother-in-law had given each of my children a Giga for Christmas. I always suspected she didn’t like me. That morning, my kids were scrambling to make it to the bus on time. When my son walked past, I heard something beep.
“Stop! You’re not taking those gadgets to school.”
I held out my hand and all three kids reluctantly handed over their Gigas.
Then my daughter volunteered me for Giga Duty. “Don’t worry, guys. Mom will babysit them while we’re gone.”
I nodded in agreement, and my son added, “Don’t let them die.”
Five minutes after they left, the first Giga beeped. I pushed a button and the digi-dog wagged its tail. Piece of cake, I thought. I laid the devices on the table and promptly, forgot about them.
When I returned to the kitchen, I was greeted by a frantic chorus of bleeps and beeps. The dino-pet’s screen was blinking. “Game Over.” Great, an hour into babysitting, and already, someone was dead. Now what? Bury it in the backyard? Flush it like a goldfish?
For the entire afternoon, the two survivors beeped incessantly. “Feed me. Love me. Clean my litterbox. Yep, I was scooping virtual cat poop. By 3:30, I’d had it. I was willing to resort to anything to shut them up. Since the garbage disposal was broken, I opted to take a trip to the curb. I would simply drop them into the garbage can, then tell my kids that their Gigas had run away from home.
Halfway down the walk, they sang out, “deedle-dee-dee” and now, all three screens blinked Game Over. Thank God, all had died of natural causes.
That night, my dreams were plagued with beeps and flashing screens. When the alarm my husband’s watch sounded at 5:30, he watched in bleery-eyed horror as I ripped it off his arm, ran down across hall and dropped it into the toilet.
“Hey!” That was a gift from my mom!”
“I know,” I mumbled. “She never did like me.”