The man in the audience was shifty-eyed. I thought my talk about swamp-dwelling leeches, while slightly gruesome, had been going well but he seemed to have other things on his mind. I liked enthusing people about the diversity and creative adaptations of the species that made the swamp their home. I finished up, eliciting the usual ‘eww’s and ‘cool’s, and my audience crowded around the table to see the artifacts I had brought along. The alligator skull was a perennial favourite, and it took several minutes for the crowd to disperse. The shifty-eyed man remained, however, along with a friend. He approached.
“Excuse me, I was just wondering… is there such thing as a real Pokémon?”
“I’m sorry?” I got a lot of strange and interesting questions working as an education assistant at a zoo, but that one was new to me. “A what?”
“A real live Pokémon. You know, like in the game.”
“I… er…” Working in outreach makes you good at thinking on your toes, and I’m happy to say I didn’t stare at him in bemusement for more than a second. Maybe two. “You know, it’s certainly not something I’ve heard of existing in the real world.”
“But aren’t you a zoologist? Don’t you know about things like this?”
“I do, but I’ve never heard of a real live Pokémon. I don’t know if such a thing exists.”
“Well,” he said, eyes darting from side to side before he leaned closer, “I think it does, because I was listening to the news earlier and they said Paris Hilton had been bitten by some sort of Pokémon. So I just wondered if you knew about that.”
“I haven’t heard anything about it,” I said, quite honestly. “But that’s interesting. I’ll have to go look it up!”
He seemed satisfied at this even if I couldn’t confirm for certain, and left not long after. After sharing the story with some coworkers we decided we definitely had to look up what had befallen Paris Hilton.
It turns out she had been bitten by her pet kinkajou. I suppose it does sound an awful lot like Pikachu…