It started off innocently enough. A forty-five cent Pekkle sticker book here, a dollar Pochacco memo pad there. Looking over the growing mass that I now have, I have to wonder how I got here.

The stickers
It must have been around 1995. I was in a small card store, just looking around for a gift (or maybe a card) for a friend, when a small colorful sticker book caught my attention. It was about as wide as a packet of sugar that one might find in a diner, and three-quarters as tall. On the cover of the booklet was a cute little cartoon dog, apparently known as Pochacco. Looking at the back of the pack, I saw that it was marked forty-five cents, which seemed awfully reasonable considering how many stickers were within. I had seen sheets of stickers with just as many stickers going for three or four dollars, which of course is outrageous. Nearby there were other sticker packets with other characters such as Pekkle, a somewhat rotund duck who looked like he was enjoying whatever sports he was playing.

I then noticed that on the shelves above and below the sticker shelf there were many other items which featured the same characters, such as notebooks, pens, pencils, organizers, pencil sharpeners, and the like. I picked up a notepad, as it too was reasonably priced, and went on my way. I decided to pass on the line of things with a cute little kitten known oddly as “Hello Kitty," as they all used a bright pink motif, and I thought I, as a man of 18 years, should not be decorating with kittens on pink. There was nothing wrong with the dog and the duck, I told myself, as they were definitively masculine role models.

The 1997 Crash
As I have written in previous articles for GO INSIDE Magazine, I have not in the past been all that good when it comes to love. In February of 1997, specifically three days before Valentine’s Day, the relationship I was in was terminated without much reason given. Although now I am quite happy to no longer be in the relationship (as I wouldn’t be engaged to be married to the love of my life, Andrea, had I stayed in that relationship) I was devastated at the time, and it took me about a year and a half to get over how upset I was, having been dumped.

There are a number of things that I did to get over this trauma, that of being dumped. One of them involved spending money on things of the Sanrio variety, Sanrio being the company which made the sticker books mentioned above, along with many other such products. Drowning in grief, I consoled myself by buying more stickers, notepads, memo books, pencils which were somehow bendable, and more of the same. When this long period of grief ended, I found it somewhat difficult to look at the Sanrio stuff as it reminded me of my time of great sadness, which I didn’t want to think about.

Eventually, I lost interest because there were so many other things to think about that I completely forgot to think about it, and everything I had owned was now hidden away in boxes, or in the closet. It was one of those childish things anyway, right? As it turns out, this was not the case at all.

The Return of Sanrio
The triumphant return to Sanrio came when I started dating my fiancée, Andrea. The first time that I worked with her, and she was training me, she was wearing a My Melody bracelet. “Is that Sanrio paraphernalia?" I asked, indicating the bracelet. She answered affirmatively. That was one of the things that first attracted me to her, as silly as that probably sounds. Right around when we started dating, I got her a vintage Hello Kitty plush doll, which she of course appreciated quite a lot. I found it on an online auction site.

Things started to snowball from there. One day I had left my gloves at home and Andrea kindly loaned me her Hello Kitty gloves. It being so cold outside, I really didn’t care what other people would say about me wearing the gloves. As it turns out, the gloves were quite comfortable, and people generally thought that the gloves were quite cute. I would go on auction sites and find really neat things like chopsticks or utensil sets and get them. And of course, I would go with Andrea to the mall near her home to visit the Sanrio Surprises store there. Andrea and I would find ourselves looking at the Hello Kitty vacuum cleaner (necessary for a clean apartment), the coffee / tea maker (how else are you going to start off your day?) and the beautiful Hello Kitty toaster. Let’s face it: when you realize that you actually want a Hello Kitty toaster, it is time to admit that you are a little bit addicted to the stuff.

Nowadays I find myself visiting the official Sanrio website, eating the occasional meal with my Hello Kitty chopsticks, going out to eat with my Robow@n utensil set (this got quite a few laughs out of the employees of an all you can eat Asian buffet place near me), and sending email from my new free hellokitty.com email address. Have I gone too far? Of course not. Does it seem peculiar that my fiancée and I hope to honeymoon in Tokyo, home of SanrioLand and 100 Yen, where one can find Sanrio related items for *a dollar*!? To most people, it has been. To a few, thankfully, it seems perfectly wonderful. All right, so we are also fans of Tokyo in general, and consider ourselves Japanophiles, but the Sanrio element certainly doesn’t hurt things a bit.

Conclusion
All right, everybody gather hands and say it with me. You can enjoy Sanrio and be in graduate school at the same time. You can enjoy Sanrio and work full time, be married, have children, and write in your spare time. There is nothing stopping you from enjoying Sanrio! Just start small. The journey to the Hello Kitty toaster may be a long one, but it is well worth it, and it can get your rye bread ready for a couple of tablespoons of Garlic Hummus.

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