Last week, my roommate and I watched Aladdin for the first time in years. (We got Disney+. And not a day too soon, as, in a fit of insanity, I almost spent $13 to rewatch Revenge of the Sith.)
When the Genie first appeared, I was struck by a thought.
“What would you wish for?” I asked, swirling my wine around in its glass, hoping to god it would breathe and taste less like compost.
Heather sat still for a while. As did I. For the life of me, I couldn’t think of a single thing to wish for. This is, perhaps, for two reasons:
One, because I’m pretty happy.
Two, because I have a tendency to overthink things. I’ve read “The Tale of the Three Brothers” by Beedle the Bard. I’ve seen The Butterfly Effect (and, for that matter, read The Cursed Child.) I know how tricky cosmic tinkering can be. Before therapy, I would be paralyzed by every tiny decision, like taking one road over another, getting a flu shot at Walgreens instead of Target, eating an airport salad vs. an airport sandwich, in case I chose wrong and died. Or got listeria.
I was also wary of blowing out birthday candles, in case some evil shadow voice came out of the back of my head and tacked on a terrible qualifier, à la Maleficent, at the end of my wish.
E.g.: “I wish my one true love will find me … AND TAKE ME TO A CHRISTIAN ROCK CONCERT!”
I’ve since calmed down. But I still take these matters very seriously.
I could wish for my dream comedy writing job, but what if what I thought was my dream comedy writing job really wasn’t suited for me? And, in jumping right to it, I missed all the other, better suited opportunities along the way?
I could wish for a more consistent writing habit, but what if that manifested itself in a sick obsession, and I forgot to eat, sleep and drink, and eventually wasted away into a pile of dust, like that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where people dance to death?
When I was little, I wished for a made-up boyfriend named Brice (who, tbh, sounds like a real asshole), a Ford Taurus and the ability to read peoples’ minds. I also wished Aslan the lion would fall in love with me, which is problematic and I think proves my point quite decisively:
Magical wishes are dangerous, because what I think I want today might not actually be what I want tomorrow.
Except for unlimited vacation funds and the ability to speak to animals.
And maybe for my cats to be dog-like in their willingness to travel with me. Or, at the very least, the ability to take them for a car ride without James shitting himself.
Eventually, my daydreams of a cameo on Camping with Cats came to an end when Heather finally said, “I think I’d wish for one selfless thing, like a solution to climate change, or a cure for something. And then use the other two wishes on myself.”
This pulled me up short. I hadn’t even considered using a wish on something selfless! What a monster I must be!
Perhaps Brice and I really do deserve each other.