Supply and Demand
There was a time when they fell, when they were avalanches waiting to happen, nightmares of the claustrophobic. Around every cave and stream, in every nook and cranny, they were there. Since the world took its first breath they have scattered across every land in Neopia, as far down as the depths of Maraqua.
Rocks have been a constant for all of eternity, unassuming little things of great variety. Flat ones, round ones, strong ones, brittle ones, dark ones, light ones, and many other distinguishing qualities. No two are exactly the same. They’re fascinating in that regard, and it should certainly provide some comfort when you ask for a Weewoo and your mother insists on a pet rock instead.
What your mother clearly doesn’t take into consideration is supply and demand. As established rocks are abundant, sure, but do mothers ever stop to think about the fact that every mother and their mother is telling their kid to get a rock? Evidently not.
There was a time when the youth ran about with their Warfs and curled up on the couch with their Meowclopses, but those days are slipping away. Parents these days have become disillusioned- having had their fun with a furry companion as a youngster, they don’t feel the same void that their children do, and insist that a rock is a perfectly sufficient pet.
Such is the case with little Berdamont the Korbat on one sunny afternoon in the bloom of spring.
“Mom, can I get a petpet?” His mother paused, turning from her pot of gumbo to regard him.
“A petpet, you say? Surely you know what a great responsibility they are,” she murmured, turning back to her gumbo and giving it a good stir.
“Well, sure, but a few of my friends have one and I really love playing with them. I think that I’m responsible enough to take care of one.” Sighing, his mother sat down her wooden spoon, turning to face him fully.
“Very well, I suppose any kid would want a pet. How about a pet rock? They’re very easy to care for and won’t make a mess of the place. Not like our neighbor’s Baaba,” she scowled, reflecting on when the critter had gotten into their house and tracked mud all over the furniture.
“But mom, rocks can’t play with you!” Berdamont pouted, crossing his arms.
“Exactly, and they can’t destroy anything. The perfect pet,” she stated, beaming down at her still frowning son. She tsked. “I’ll tell you what, we’ll go down to that Tyrannian pet shop tomorrow and once you see all the nice rocks they have, you’ll be begging for one.”
Berdamont huffed but grunted out a “fine” before storming off to his room, feeling defeated. There was no fun to be had with a rock, all you could do was throw it and stare at it. It couldn’t fetch or run through grassy fields with you. No fun at all.
The rest of the day passed quickly, the family sitting down for gumbo while Berdamont’s mother relayed to his father about their child’s desire for a pet.
“Ah, well, I think a rock is an excellent choice. I had a rock when I was a kid,” he mumbled over his mouthful of gumbo, “and it was a lot of fun. Didn’t have to worry about walking it or washing it, and that thing was as loyal as could be. Never left my side.”
“That’s because it couldn’t,” Berdamont grumbled, raking in mouthfuls of gumbo. His father shrugged sheepishly, turning back to his mother to talk about work related affairs.
Berdamont drifted easily to sleep, the excitement he would expect to feel when getting a pet the next day quite absent.
Bright and early the next morning his mother awoke him, tossing pants and a shirt his way.
“C’mon sweetie, I want to get to the shop early before it gets too crowded. And I’d hate for all the rocks to get snatched up,” she winked, quickly leaving him alone to dress. He sighed, making quick work of dressing and doing a lackluster job of tying his shoes.
The trip to the shop was quick and uneventful, a bell chiming as the family entered. Berdamont perked up a bit when he saw all the Stegos and Duocorns and started to head towards them before his mother placed a hand on his shoulder.
“The rocks are this way, sweetheart!” she beamed, dragging him after her.
“I couldn’t help but overhear you’re looking for a rock?” came the cheery voice of the merchant. He was a large, kindly looking elephant, and he quickly stepped out from behind the counter to come assist. “We just got a new shipment of rocks last night, you did good by coming early to have first pick.”
The mother nudged her son, as if to say “I told you so”, but he only frowned in response. What good was having first pick as a rock? They were all practically the same.
The trio followed the merchant towards the back of the store where five rocks sat on display on a shelf. The mother nodded approvingly, thinking they looked quite clean and incapable of destroying her home.
“Which one do you like, Berdamont?” his father asked, clapping him on the shoulder.
“None of them,” he sulked, eyes trailing over the impossibly boring looking objects. He cast a longing glance back towards where the Stegos were prancing around, calling out to each other. So much more lively than a rock could ever hope to be. He was brought back to the reality of the situation by another nudge from his mother, earning her a sour look.
“That one is fine,” he muttered, pointing at one randomly.
“Sure!” the merchant said, smile lighting up his eyes. “That one there will cost you 800k.”
Both parents balked. “800k?” they exclaimed in unison. Berdamont couldn’t help but smirk, pleased with the sudden turnaround. He knew for sure that none of the more standard petpets cost anywhere near that.
“Yes, 800k,” the merchant repeated, puzzled. “Why so surprised? That’s a steal for a rock, if I do say so myself. Unless you’re just shocked by what a good price it is!” he laughed, patting Berdamont’s father on the back.
“Uh, sweety,” his mother began. “Maybe pick a different rock?”
“Miss, I’m sorry to say, but the one he picked is the cheapest rock we have. I don’t think we’ve ever sold one for less, in fact.”
“Why in Fyora’s name are they so expensive?” she asked, eyes wide with shock.
“Well, what do you expect when everyone is telling their kid to get a rock? Demand is through the roof! I can barely keep these babies on the shelves even at this price. Not that I’m complaining, of course, but surely you knew how valuable these are.”
“But it’s just a rock!” she exclaimed.
“I thought it was a wonderful pet and loyal companion?” Berdamont chimed in, grinning ear to ear. His mother deflated, clearly beaten.
“Well, we, uh- that’s really not in our budget.”
“But I was so excited to get a petpet today!” the little Korbat lied through his teeth. How wonderfully this had all turned out.
“We have plenty of other petpets to choose from if you’d like to have a look around?” the merchant suggested. Sulking, the mother nodded once, and Berdamont excitedly went running over to the Stegos, hoisting one up. It gave a little grunt but wagged its tail nonetheless.
The trio left the shop 500 neopoints poorer and with a new addition to the family who was excitedly walking alongside them.
The moral of the story is a rock can never compare to a traditional petpet in terms of affection, loyalty, and overall fun. So stop telling your kids to get pet rocks, it makes them too expensive for the weirdos who actually want one.