I recently brought a brass lamp in a charity shop. I brought it because it was in the ‘this stuff is seriously crap’ 50p box under the till. The lid was missing and had been replaced by a stress ball that looked like a sprout. Its plight overwhelmed me – no-one would ever buy this lamp. No-one but me.
Back home, as I was forcing some shine back into it with a Brillo pad, out came a genie who didn’t so much burst out of the spout as seep from the gap where the sprout stress ball didn’t quite fit. His flamboyance, like the lamp’s lid, was missing. Despite his flawed vessel and attitude, he told me I had a full three wishes.
I of course had many, many questions. I wanted to ask if I could have time to think about it, but risked that being a wish. Also, what exactly were the boundaries of what I could wish for?
Could he give me a crystal ball to look into the future and see how things turn out? Give my ears an ‘on and off’ switch so I don’t have to listen to people sniffing on the bus? Get Confucius round for a bit of Life Coaching?
Or was it non-magic, but still good stuff like winning bundles of cash?
What if I wished for something I was going to get anyway? I wouldn’t know of course, not for sure. But every time I enjoyed the thing I’d wished for, I’d wonder and thus spoil the thing forever. To be sure of not doing that, I’d have to wish for inconceivable things, but that goes back to my earlier concern about boundaries.
I also worried that he might make assumptions about what I might want instead of actually listening to my reply. Like a bored shop assistant spouting pre-scripted words, “Do you want a 5p bag?”, but then not listening to your reply and packing your stuff into a 5p bag anyway even though you’ve got your re-usable (much more than 5p) bag already on the counter. Because you always have a re-usable bag. Because you’re a woman of a certain age who is prepared for anything!
Perhaps this whole thing is a test of my character. It’s not really about me and I should wish for world peace. Instead I want to ask for Benicio Del Toro, Adam Driver and Mark Ruffalo to take part in a series of manly quests to win my hand. I could just wish for all three, but who’d get the 7th day?
What I did ask for in a panic, was the perfect pair of shoes that would go with everything I wore. Instead of the shoes, he gave me a suggestion to achieve my wish, and that was to wear only one outfit. A sarcastic genie wasn’t something I’d anticipated. But they do say that the genie reflects his master, don’t they? In my annoyance I wished he’d go away and wish himself into a more satisfying career. And poof, he was gone.
Afterwards of course, I felt terrible. Genies don’t have feet. Perhaps his sarcastic comment was born out of his own sadness at being footless. How could I have been so insensitive.
I rubbed again and again trying to re-ignite the genie so I could make good our farewell. But he was gone, just like all the Brill from the Brillo pad. As a last-ditch attempt to redeem myself, I took all my shoes to the charity shop, keeping behind only one pair. When I got home and viewed my almost shoe-less wardrobe, my heart swelled. For there, previously unnoticed, was a pair of shoes that went with everything.