There will be blood. I know it.
And not only because I was almost hit by a car this week while chasing a little purple Rattata (stupid also because it was a Combat Power 10 weakling — pffft).
Pokémon Go — an augmented reality game that uses your smartphone’s GPS to send you all over your city on a scavenger hunt for mythical Japanese creatures called Pokémon — is hotter than hula hoops in the summer of 1958, I’m sure you’ve heard.
Yes, our nation is in crisis, and millions of people are running around chasing Pikachu. I know. Yet I’m all in — totally hooked. So are Capitol Hill staffers, parents, kids, gamer newbies, almost everyone in my house and veteran vidiots. We bumped into all kinds of hunters and gatherers as we ran around the city, chasing our phones.
That mom in the white minivan suspiciously pulling over outside Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Nightclub in Northeast Washington at 2 o’clock in the afternoon? I see you. I know what you’re doing.
You free-range kids — more than I’ve ever seen on a summer afternoon — stopping at churches and sculptures and fountains all over the city, we know what you’re up to. It may look like you’re thoughtfully reading the plaque at the Frederick Douglass house. But I know it’s a PokéStop, where your GPS is seeing you’re there and letting you gorge on Poké Balls, potions, lures and other tools to play the game.
This week, our kids are outside dawn to dusk, living that ’70s childhood we remember so well, minus the Kool-Aid and fried bologna sandwiches.
Folks complained all over the Internet that they’re sore and exhausted but also exhilarated after a day of exploring parks, churches and dark alleys (we’ll come back to dark alleys later) all over their cities, suburbs and small towns.
All day long, we bumped into others doing the Pokémon Go shuffle — phone out, a little zombielike, lots of very weird stops.
The game has major features at the White House, the U.S. Capitol and the Holocaust Museum, which issued a request that people stop playing the game inside the somber building. And — like other amenities that delineate class and privilege — there are Pokémon deserts in poor and industrial neighborhoods.
Along the way, a couple of police officers spotted us playing. “You be careful. They’re robbing people in that game,” one officer told us.
Yes, there was one case in Missouri where police say teens used a virtual lure to get Pokémon Go players to come to a secluded alley and then jumped them.
It’s also a video game that’s not for couch potatoes. You can put out lures or incense to get the creatures to come to you if you can’t leave your desk or house. But at some point, you’ve gotta move to make it fun.
Oh, yes. Moving.
There was more than one time when I walked right into traffic.
We got honked at, um, let’s just say more than once. Oops.
And don’t get me started on driving.
You think texting and driving is deadly? Pokémon-ing and driving will be a bloodbath.
We got in the car, running an errand and not intending to Pokémon. But every other block a PokéStop popped up on the kids’ phones.
“Mom! Pull over!”
I did. The first time. Then the second time. By the third time, I was getting miffed. These kids are not getting to Level 7 before I am.
So it took us about 90 minutes to go four miles.
We stopped at the National Arboretum along the way (it’s totally infested, in case you want to go). There’s not a better frolic than that place, hunting Jigglypuffs in the azaleas, Hitmonlees in between the columns.
Except we saw at least three cars pull into a parking lot, park, give zero figs about the azaleas or the National Herb Garden, nab a bunch of Pokémon and then peel out, heading to the next clump of virtual creatures.
When an unusual-looking squirrel with a dark body and a blond tail ran in front of us, my younger son screamed, “Is that a Pokémon? Or a real squirrel?”
It was getting blurry. And weird.
Then we went to the cemetery. Yes, there are also a ton of PokéStops in cemeteries. And we ran from grave to crypt to obelisk, collecting balls and capturing creatures.
There was a huge gym — this is a stop where you exercise your collected creatures and let them do battle — looming right above the Lynch family’s gravesite.
My deepest apologies, Mr. and Mrs. Lynch.
Smartphone addiction is the monster of modern-day family dynamics, for sure.
And we were all eager to show Dad — a work addict who would be a stone-cold smartphone addict if his fingers weren’t so big — that Pokémon Go is totally revolutionary, totally different from the sit-and-stare of Battlefront in the living room.
So after dinner, the dog got his seventh walk of the day, and we headed to the Library of Congress.
One child climbed a wall; the other almost fell smack off a bench. I ran into a pole. There was almost no talking. There was blood.
“You’re still all zombies,” Dad said. “I see no difference. Addicts.”
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