I’ve been very tempted recently by the Nintendo 3DS XL. There are just too many good games on that system to ignore and, as a Zelda junkie, A Link Between Worlds may well be the tipping point. When I was pricing the system I discovered that they offer a pink version and it made me think back to my old Game Boy Advance. In a time before the Internet I ordered my video games from a mail order company called Gameplay. They’re defunct now and I’m sad to see they don’t even have a Wikipedia entry. The catalogue had a picture of the Arctic (clear blue) GBA with the other colours listed alongside, text only, and some explanation of the more esoteric names. When I called they said the only one available was “Fuchsia”, listed in that catalogue as “Fuchsia (Clear Red)”. I said that was fine.
What arrived 3-5 working days later was unequivocally Pink. I was 13 in 2001. I attended an All-Boys Catholic school. When it arrived I was unconcerned but in the Xbox LIVE atmosphere of school the device became a point of immediate ridicule. They called it my “Gay Boy Advance” because of course they did. I weathered the storm for about a week but I hadn’t yet learned that pink is not inherently feminine nor is femininity equated with homosexuality, nor is being accused of either an insult. Eventually I got super self-conscious about it and decided to try to get the thing swapped for clear blue, the paragon of masculinity. I read the terms and conditions for a return. The fact that I had opened and played the device quickly emerged as an issue, so I hatched an elaborate scheme to make the console appear unused. I coerced my father into spending several of his lunch hours hunting down batteries of the same make and model (Panasonic Alkaline Power MAX, I still remember) as those that had shipped with the GBA. The original batteries had been printed in Japanese but I somehow felt that was secondary. In place of the plastic slip that covered the brand new GBA inside the box I used a zip-lock bag. Bulletproof. I listed the reason for my return as “Wrong Colour” since I indignantly felt that the “clear red” description had been misleading. I think someone at the company took pity on me because the exchange was accepted, although the box for the replacement was severely damaged. I regret exchanging it. It was the wrong thing to do. I wish I’d had the courage to just plant my feet and let the haters hate. I wish I’d had the intelligence to know that I was being confronted with ignorance. I look back on my fortnight with that pink GBA with great fondness and I’ve heard they’ve become something of a collector’s item now. I wish I still had mine, not for the rarity, but for the trophy it would have become. A prize won by my younger self for standing by his individuality, worthy of being placed in some cabinet. Instead its blue cousin languishes in a box underneath the bed, where all objects of shame reside. That pink 3DS is getting more and more tempting.