SHOPS - In retrospect, I should’ve realized what I was getting myself into the
moment I saw his house. It was possibly the most outrageous piece of architecture
I have ever encountered: not only was it shaped like an enormous blue cone, but
it was covered with red stars and green half-moons like some kind of psychedelic
planetarium. I felt fairly certain that if I was his next-door neighbor, I would
have planted a very large tree between my house and his. In fact, if I hadn’t
already undertaken the rather bothersome task of interviewing him for the Neopian
Times Appreciation Guild, I probably would have left right then.
At any rate, I was a bit annoyed by the time I reached his door, having spent
at least ten minutes circling the cone before I finally found that his doorbell
was actually concealed inside—surprise!—a massive green star. I pushed the button
and tapped my toe impatiently—I didn’t have all day! After a minute the door
creaked open, but glancing around I could not see anybody who might have opened
it. Should’ve guessed—a psychedelic door for a psychedelic house, I thought
“Why, hello,” I suddenly heard from somewhere below me. “Welcome to my home.”
I looked towards my feet to find a small ball of orange puff robed in a blue
robe that was at least two sizes too large.
“Right, whatever. Are you the…” hmm, what was this guy’s name again? I checked
my notepad. “Oh, right. Are you the Shop Wizard?”
“Yes, I am the Shop Wizard. Please do come in.”
I stepped inside and he closed the door behind us. As my eyes adjusted to
the dim light, I realized that the house was every bit as conic on the inside
as it was from the exterior. In fact, the entire place was just one giant room
with a circular wall that encompassed its entirety, gradually growing narrower
as it reached the top of the cone, from which a dim light hung.
“Please sit down,” he requested, leading me over to a completely bare corner.
I just stared at him for a moment, wondering when he would realize the obvious.
He said nothing, so I said it myself.
“Um… there’s no place to sit here.” In fact, as my perception of the dark room
grew clearer, I realized that there was no furniture in his home whatsoever.
“Why, so there isn’t! What kind of chair are you looking for?” he asked eagerly.
“Umm… whatever. Just a chair.”
“a chair… a chair… Purple Chia Chair!” Instantly, the ugliest looking chair
I have ever seen appeared in front of me. Not only was it hairy, but it also
seemed to have eyes that squinted at my back as I hesitantly sat down in it.
“Care for tea?” he asked me.
“Do you have coffee?” I needed a caffeine boost; this was going to be a long
“Certainly! What variety?”
“Just coffee. It doesn’t matter.” I really just wanted to get the interview
“Coffee!” he shouted. Within a second, a coffee table that looked rather like
a piece of coral appeared in front of me. He tried again. “Coffee!” This time,
in its place, an orange and blue coffee table appeared that looked as though
it would compliment the terrible chair in which I sat had the chair not been
so hideously ugly that it was difficult to imagine using it in the same sentence
as the word “compliment.”
“Perhaps you could be a little more specific with your request?” he asked.
“Fine, Banana Cream Coffee.” This was getting very weird.
“Banana Cream Coffee!” he yelled as the strange table disappeared. A purple
mug appeared in his lap, and he handed it to me as he adjusted a pointy hat
that I was beginning to notice looked surprisingly like the outside of his house.
“Now, what can I do for you?”
“Right,” I said. “So, you’re the Shop…” I paused. I had arrived at a moment
of truth. I could do this the right way, or I could do my way. It was a decision
between right and wrong, good and evil, boring and fun. It was not a tough choice.
“So,” I began again with a bit of a grin, “You’re the Shop Blizzard! What’s
up with that?”
“Actually, I’m the Shop W…” he began.
“Right, The Shop Blizzard! That’s so cool! Do you get to make snow and stuff?
Because I’ve been trying to get that Let It Snow! avatar, so maybe you could
help me with that? It’s always nice to have a good blizzard now and then. And
can you do something about those yellow snowballs? Those are pretty gross! I
mean, whose idea was that? Nobody wants yellow snowballs! And what’s more…”
“No, no, I think you misunderstood—I am the Shop Wizard, not the Shop Blizzard.”
“Wow, a Blizzard Wizard? So you make magic snow? That’s SO COOL! Can you make
it flavored, so that it tastes like vanilla ice cream? Or can you make it disappear?
This one time I saw this Wizard who…”
“No—that is not what I do at all!” He appeared frustrated by my confusion.
“There are no blizzards involved. You see, my employment essentially entails
helping Neopians like yourself find items for purchase at the various Neopian
“Sight? Oh, you have poor vision! That must be why you kept getting all those
tables when I just asked for coffee!”
“No, I do not have poor eyesight. The tables appeared because your key word
was not specific enough—you only said ‘coffee,’ so I found objects with the
word ‘coffee’ in them. I suppose the search mechanism of the Shop Wizard has
a bit of a bug …”
“EW, there are BUGS in the Shop Wizard? That’s so gross! I don’t want coffee
that has bugs in it” I grimaced and held my mug as far away from myself as possible,
appearing appalled by the notion that there were bugs in my coffee.
“No, there are no bugs! All I meant was that the search process is not perfect!”
he forced a chuckle.
I was not amused. “So what you’re saying is, practice makes perfect, and you
need a little more practice. Who hired you anyway? Maybe he and I should have
a little talk…”
“Well, yes, practice does make perfect, but actually there are several underlying
flaws in the search mechanism…” he started.
“Why are you lying under flaws? Shouldn’t you be out searching for things?”
I could see he was beginning to get impatient with me.
“No no, you see, that’s not what I said—I only said that finding what someone
is looking for can be a bit of a trick when…”
“You do tricks? WOW! I LOVE magic! Show me some! Can you do that one where
you pull the Cybunny out of the hat? Or how about that one where you have that
really long rainbow scarf and you pull it out of your sleeve—hey, do you have
a magic wand??” I was really getting into this.
“No, no, no! I’m not that kind of wizard! I don’t know any tricks. I only
know how to search on the Shop Wizard!”
“ON the Shop Wizard? But I thought you WERE the Shop Wizard!” I put on my
most convincingly puzzled expression. He sighed deeply, closed his eyes, and
craned his neck towards the rather nonexistent ceiling for a moment before starting
“I am the Shop Wizard. I just told you—I help people find things in Neopia.”
“Okay, now I’m really confused,” I said shrewdly. “You are the Shop Wizard,
or you use the Shop Wizard? Make up your mind!”
“I am the ONE and ONLY Shop Wizard!” he said in exasperation.
“What do you mean, you’re ONLY the Shop Wizard? I think that’s a pretty good
line of work! Nothing to be ashamed of there. I mean, sure, we all have our
bad days, but…”
He cut me off; it was clear he was getting quite frustrated. “You’re not listening
to anything I say! Can we start over?”
“Sure, no problem, little guy. So like I was saying, what other kinds of magic
tricks do you do? Because I have a couple of pointers if you’re looking to put
together an act—hey, my uncle is a magician; maybe you want to give him a call?
He could probably help you break into the biz; I mean, I hear it’s a tough world
out there, and it never hurts to have a little help in the process…”
By this point, the furry creature was turning bright red. “STOP IT! I CAN’T
TAKE IT ANY LONGER! I do NOT have a magic wand, I do NOT do tricks, I do NOT
lie under flaws, I do NOT have poor eyesight, I do NOT make blizzards, and I
most certainly DO NOT want to call your uncle! Now GET OUT OF HERE before I
summon an Ultranova to finish the job myself!”
I stood up from my chair and shrugged. “Okay, well, see you later Mister Shop
Blizzard. Here’s my uncle’s business card in case you change your mind. It’s
been real!” I pulled a small card out of my pocket and left it on the table
as I slipped out of his house, pulling the door shut behind me.
As I walked away from the psychedelic cone, down the groovy path, and through
the happenin’ fence, I congratulated myself on a job well done. And if there
is one thing I encourage you to bring away from this article, it is to never,
ever to buy coffee from the Shop Wizard again. Bugs? Now that’s just gross.