Single Father in the 90s

Jefferson Mars, contributor

The Summer of 1997 was a very different summer for me. While most of my schoolmates were enjoying their time off, enjoying exciting summer movies like Men in Black or My Best Friend’s wedding, I had parental obligations.

I decided to step into parenthood. It was completely my own decision. I saw the joy people had on their faces, the sights and sounds. I even remember on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, they had one and were tossing it around and really didn’t know how to use it, or it get to be quiet, I thought, I can be better than them.

The price was reasonable, only $15 and I got to pick what color I wanted it. I went with a translucent green, because slightly seeing the inside of things is much cooler than anything that’s opaque. Seriously, I’d wear an entire clear outfit if I could.

I don’t even really remember the day my first Tamagotchi hatched, or was born, or pulled the tab to let the power go on. I do remember thinking this was not the greatest feeling in the world. I didn’t feel joy, or delight, I was just confused and mortified as the next day my child died and was replaced almost immediately. The cycle continued again.

I couldn’t have a normal life, my alien child needed to evolve and become something else. And hearing lore through Internet chat rooms, that you could get your Tamagotchi to look like Bill Clinton, I had to stay the course. I thought playing as the president in NBA Jam was the coolest thing ever, but being able to feed him candy and have him trapped in keychain, that’s eternal bless.

I was determined to stay strong and raise my children. The amount of beeps and bloops and bips I had to respond to, the feces, oh God the feces, so much had to be cleaned up all the time. Even if I never fed the little demons, they still managed to poop. Trying to play a game of left or right, it was agonizing. The music haunts my fantasies of android sex, worrying we’ll have a child as articulate as an electronic Tiger handheld.

It was maddening for anyone around, especially those with jobs important enough to have warranted a pager. I couldn’t simply cover my Tamagotchi in a blanket while I fed it. I was rather proud. Finding a babysitter was pretty much impossible.

When the summer was ending I had a very troublesome decision to make. They would not allow me to bring my “Virtual Pet” to class. I insisted there’s nothing virtual about it, and it’s a very real and distressing situation to be in for a 12-year-old. The notion it was a pet was also absurd, because it was a heavier burden than thinking of a sequel to Titanic.

I made the hard choice, I went into my fathers tool box, got out the smallest screwdriver I could find, undid the back of my Tamagotchi, and removed the batteries.

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