Aside from the obvious and noble such as world peace and food for the hungry, what would you wish for if a genii were to grant you a wish? Assume, for the moment, that there is only one limit on this wish. Cost is no concern, your genii obtains things by magic and money doesn’t enter into it. Neither does the impossible. You can have time travel if you want it, or everlasting beauty. You don’t have to consider the rest of the world either; you can own Switzerland and banish anybody you don’t want there, or you can have Disneyland all for yourself and your friends for the entire summer. The only catch is that you can wish for only one thing, it will be granted immediately and is unconditional and irrevocable. No changing your mind and no additions or amendments.
I doubt if I could come up with the perfect wish. I have enough trouble ordering lunch in a restaurant. No matter what I settle on, somebody else orders something that looks a lot better than what’s on my plate. Maybe I could wish for a magic plate that would automatically contain the perfect menu choice– or perhaps a magic menu that would automatically know what it is I really want to eat and list that as the only choice available.
I hate to shop for clothes. If I set out looking for a specific garment, the stores never have it in my size, in the color I want, or at a price I think reasonable. If I’m browsing and face a lot of choices, I simply can’t make up my mind and, no matter what I pick, you can be sure I’ll regret the choice the first time I wear it. Maybe I could wish for a universal garment that would be comfortable, flattering, fashionable, and appropriate for every occasion. Would it shrink or fade? Would it alter itself as fashions change? Even if it had no faults, would I get bored silly with it day after day and begin complaining that I have nothing to wear?
I’d like to have a car that won’t rust, with tires that won’t wear out, with oil that never needs changing and a gas tank that never needs filling. I wonder if I’d be able to decide on the color, though, or if I’d choose the best upholstery for the seats. Remember the legend of the Wonderful One-horse Shay. It was constructed of all the very best parts by the finest workmen available. No parts would ever need replacing, no maintenance required for the life of the carriage. What happened, however, was that all those superior components wore out at exactly the same time, with no advance warning or evidence of wear, and the thing literally turned into a pile of dust in that one instant. My perfect car, should I actually acquire one, would no doubt suffer the same fate, or else it would become so outdated that it would be banned from public roadways and I would become the butt of cruel jokes on late-night television.
I might like to have a house that kept itself clean and orderly. After fifty-some years of keeping house, I find my enthusiasm for uncluttered counter-tops and sparkling bathroom fixtures has waned. Unmade beds don’t bother me any more, and a few unwashed dishes in the sink help a house seem lived in. Maybe it would be nice to get rid of all those magazines, though. And maybe I wouldn’t need such bright light bulbs if the windows were cleaner. On the other hand, an automatic self-cleaning house would probably prevent me from doing most of the things I like to do. I like to putter, to make things and try out ideas. Sometimes (actually usually) these undertakings require a lot of tools and materials. Often they take considerable time to complete and a project may lay around on my table for several days. That automatic house would whisk everything out of sight and store it neatly away the minute my back was turned and I’d never get any project finished. And there’s something about a clean kitchen that makes me want to bake, or experiment with a new main dish. With a consistently tidy kitchen, I’d be cooking goodies all the time and I have enough trouble controlling my weight without all those extra cookies and casseroles to eat.
I could make a generous wish that would benefit everyone and wish for childproof pill bottles that are easy to open. They’d have to have a built-in sensor that would know if the person handling it was an adult or otherwise entitled to open it. It seems to me that if cash registers can be programmed to refuse to ring up a bottle of wine without scanning your ID, someone could figure out how to program a simple pill bottle to know who is opening it.
I guess the perfect wish would be that I should know what to wish for. So, if I get that wish granted, then I’ll know what I really want. But then, I’ll have used up my one wish, won’t I?