WN BD PPL BC AV UFT
I never understood why there were so many abbreviations used at the Pound Neoboard. It takes two more seconds to say the whole word, or words, and it doesn’t send the newbies scurrying away wide-eyed because they don’t know what you mean. Abbreviations are so much more confusing.
But about three months ago, I learned the point of those abbreviations.
I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent watching my owner, Max, standing on top of a box to be taller and screaming, “WN BD PPL BC AV UFT!” And then he points to me before repeating it. Sometimes it takes half an hour or even longer before someone walks up to us.
Like now. A tall girl is standing in front of me, with a small Baby Eyrie in her arms and two other pets trailing behind her. I can see one of the pets behind her—a Pirate Cybunny, who’s looking scared. He (or she) is cowering. Must be new to this ear-hurting madness they call the Pound Neoboard.
“Name?” she inquires.
“Rebecca,” I murmur. “But everyone calls me Becky.”
The girl nods. “So, what were all those abbreviations again? I didn’t quite catch it all...”
“WN BD PPL BC AV UFT,” Max repeats.
“What do they mean?” Her brow furrows and then she blushes. “Sorry, I’m kind of new to this.”
“She’s well-named and has Battledome stats,” Max explains patiently. He’s had to do this dozens of times before. You’d think he’d learn to stop abbreviating. “She has a medal from the PPL—Petpet Protection League. She won gold in the Beauty Contest once, and she’s a Draik, so she gives an avatar. And she’s up for trade.”
“Impressive,” the girl replies softly. “I have a well-named, unconverted Baby Eyrie.” So that’s why the pet in her hands looks strange. It has a really big head and looks like it’s staring sideways.
“NTY.” Max shakes his head, then remembers and explains, “No thank you.”
“Decently-named Pirate Cybunny?”
Another head shake. “NTY.”
“Umm... well-named, unconverted Darigan Acara?” she asks hopefully.
“Name?” Max requests.
“Jeremy. I’ve been trying to trade him forever...”
Max thinks it over for a few seconds before replying, “I’ll consider you.”
“Okay, thanks.” The girl turns on her heel and walks away. I look up at Max and scowl.
“She had good offers, you know.”
“Yeah, but she didn’t have the perfect offer.” Max pauses. “Becky, I spent so much time and money to get you like this, and I don’t want it all to have been wasted. I want my dream pet.”
I want to scream. To scream and shake him by the shoulders and get into his face. And to yell at him, telling him that I AM NOT AN ITEM, however clichéd it sounds. I am not an item that you can spend lots of money on improving just to trade for something better. Can’t I have just a tiny bit of respect for myself? I’m Max’s only pet, and he treats me like a... a thing. Like an ‘it’. To quote the rules of many whom I’ve seen put their pet up for adoption: I am not an ‘it’. I am a ‘she’. But I don’t dare tell Max that.
I feel sick. My whole personality, who I am, it’s all supposed to be squeezed into those little abbreviations. How in Neopia is that even possible?
I’ll give you the short answer: it isn’t.
I hate it. Everywhere I go I’m followed by those letters, ever since I won first place in the Beauty Contest. That very day Max whisked me away to the Pound Neoboard, where he’s still trying to trade me.
“You could have morphed me into your dream pet, you know,” I grumble. “Then you wouldn’t have to do any trading.”
He stops and looks down at me. “Becky, you know my dream pet is an unconverted Plushie Draik. I couldn’t make you unconverted, even if I made you Plushie. That’s why you’re just White, because I didn’t want to spend the Neopoints to make you Plushie.”
I sigh and slump down against the box. For six months I thought – I knew! Or I thought I knew – that Max loved me. But that was a fantasy. He only spent all that time training me, saving up to morph me, dressing me up just so for the Beauty Contest, so that he could trade me off. It’s not fair.
I turn to see a small Chocolate Xweetok on my left. I manage a smile and a nod.
“So what’s your name?” he asks. “I’m Dustin.”
“How long’s your owner been trying to trade you?”
“Ugh. Months now. We do this every day. You?”
“This is the first day,” he admits. “The lab ray just turned me Chocolate an hour ago.” He glances up at Max. “So all that stuff he’s yelling... that’s you?”
“It’s supposed to tell about me.” I grimace. “See, it means—”
“I know what it means,” he assures me. “It’s a mouthful, though. But you know? You must be pretty special to need that many abbreviations.”
“Not really.” I shrug. “Anyone could make a pet like me. There’s nothing special about it. At least you’re a lab-only color.”
He looks into my eyes. “Rebecca, anyone could make a pet like me, too. They’d just need a Fountain Faerie Quest or a lucky zap from the lab ray.” He smiles. “You could be your owner’s dream pet. He could make you into it! My owner just fosters pets—”
“My owner’s dream pet, it’s unconverted,” I interrupt.
“Unconverted, my frosting,” the Xweetok spits, his tail lashing angrily. He opens his mouth to say more, but right then Max pokes me.
“Rebecca, will you sit up straight!” he snaps. “How do you expect to get any offers if you look depressed? You’re not a Grey pet!”
I DON’T WANT TO GET ANY OFFERS.
I take a deep breath and bite my lip, stopping myself from blurting that out. Max knows perfectly well I don’t want any offers, but he’s not going to stop trying until he gets his dream pet. Yelling, as I’ve found, doesn’t do any good. Nor does kicking, screaming, or even threatening to run away. It’s not fair. Nobody here cares about me. Nobody.
So I bite my lip. And I sit up straight. I look back at Dustin, who rolls his eyes.
“Owners,” he mutters. “Don’t we get a say in this?”
“Couldn’t agree more.” I nod. “And... what were you saying? Before, I mean.”
“Oh.” He swings his tail around a bit. “I’m just wondering why everyone wants unconverted pets. There are only so many, and everyone wants them. So of course, they trade.”
“You can’t really blame them,” I reply. “Trading’s the only way to get an unconverted pet.” For some odd reason, I’m defending Max. Maybe – probably – I’m wishing that he’ll just scoop me up in his arms and take me home, and we’ll be a family of two again. Like a real family, I mean, not like we are now. Now we’re nothing that even resembles a family. Just owner, and pet. A pet that happens to be referred to as an ‘it’. That’s an odd way to think of yourself, and I’m pondering that when Dustin’s voice jolts me back to reality.
“Yeah, but... let’s say there are a hundred unconverted pets in Neopia. Then let’s say that fifty of those pets are – what do they call ‘em? – ‘permies’.”
I nod. I know that term – it refers to a pet that will never be abandoned or traded. Max used to tell me that I was his permie. Such a lie.
“That only leaves fifty unconverted pets that can be traded,” Dustin continues. “Let’s pretend ten of those pets get converted, and now there’s only forty. If four percent of those pets are your owner’s dream pet, that’s only ten.”
“Uh-huh.” What is he getting at?
“Those ten might later become ‘permies’, they might get traded to someone else, they might get converted, or even abandoned. Their owner might leave Neopia. Like I said, there are only so many unconverted pets. Sooner or later, Neopia’s gonna run out.”
I hesitate. “Max – that’s my owner – he says he won’t accept anything besides his dream pet.”
“And that is...?” Dustin presses.
“Unconverted Plushie Draik,” I say softly.
His eyes momentarily light up. “I heard about one. His owner abandoned him. He’s stuck in the pound. Awful name, though.”
I knew about that pet. “I’ve heard of him. He got adopted this morning. My owner was going to try to get him.”
“Oh... He won’t take any other offers?”
“No. And I’m just wondering...” I gulp. “What’s going to happen to me if he never gets the ‘perfect offer’?”
He sighs and stares off into the distance for what seems like forever. Then, just when I figure that he’s not going to reply, he wraps his tail around my shoulder. “I don’t know,” he admits.
“Oh, please, please, can I have it?”
I sigh. It’s early in the morning, and not many other people are here. Max is trying to deal with a bunch of what he calls “n00bs”.
“Not unless you have an unconverted Plushie Draik.” He stands firm.
“I’ll pay you five thousand neopoints,” one girl begs. Max grits his teeth.
“This is NOT the Trading Post! You can’t buy a pet!”
“Please, can I have her? She’s my dreamie...” another boy wants to know.
“No, no, and no! Now go find someone else to bother,” Max snaps. Pouting, the group slowly leaves. I watch them go.
I wonder what it would be like to live with one of them. That’s the new game I invented to keep my mind busy while I wait here. (Trust me, being traded is B-O-R-I-N-G. Or waiting to be traded is, anyway.)
Just then I see a young girl with straggly bangs approaching us. Her hands are deep in her pockets, and she’s wearing a purple sweater, even though it’s warm out.
“Hey, what’s your name?” she murmurs.
It takes me a second to realize that she’s talking to me. Usually people talk to Max if they’re interested in me, but no, this girl’s talking directly to ME.
“Becky,” I say automatically, and then add, “Well, actually, it’s Rebecca, but...”
“But you like to be called Becky?” she finishes, and I nod. She smiles warmly and turns to Max.
“Do you accept applications? I’d love to apply to adopt Becky.”
“She’s up for trade,” he barks. “Not for adoption.”
“Are you sure? I could make a nice petpage application for her. A nice layout, I’d draw some pictures, give you a little story and some reasons why I want Becky...”
Petpage application? What’s a petpage application? It sounds elaborate; it sounds like hard work. My hopes rise as I tilt my head back to look at her. She wants to be my owner this badly? Wow.
“And then what do I get in return?” he asks dismissively. “You can write your little story all you want, but you’re not taking all my hard work away and leaving me with nothing. Tell me that, what do I get?”
Her gaze is steady. She refuses to back down, and I can sense this. “You get the feeling of knowing that she has a loving home, forever and ever.”
He makes a hand motion, as if to swat away a Moffit. “She’s not up for trade. I worked hard to make her all that she is – ”
“And now you’re trading her away.”
Max is silent for a moment, glaring at her, indicating that she should leave. She leans down and hugs me gently before she does.
“It’ll be okay,” she tells me.
“Thanks – um...”
“Violet. Violet Sophia,” she says plainly, and turns on her heel. The last I see of her is her raspberry-colored jacket swaying behind her. I slump down again.
I’m still sitting here on the Pound Neoboard. Dustin was fun to talk to for a while, because he took my mind off being traded, but now he’s gone. He has a new owner, a new family. To this day I have never seen Violet again, but every morning I wake up and I remind myself of her words. Reminding myself that someday I’ll be traded, and it’ll be okay.