It was sweltering, arid day in the Sahara, and I had been riding my ungainly camel for hours. As the hot red sun reached its zenith, I spotted something glinting on a distant, hazy dune. I adjusted my burqa and urged my steed faster. What could the unearthly speck of silver be?
We approached the gleaming object. To my surprise, I saw that it was a can of some sort. I dismounted, and gingerly picked it up. The aluminum burned my hands. I turned it over and read the inscription:
Pabst Blue Ribbon
“Now what would a can of shitty American beer be doing out here in the Sahara?” I wondered aloud to myself, but my thought was interrupted as the can began to tremble.
It shook so violently that it slipped from my fingers into the sand. I gasped. Slowly, what appeared to be blue smoke seeped from the can. As more of it hung in the air it began to take the form of a massive genie.
“WHO DARED DISTURB ME WHILE I SAT IN THE CAN?” he howled in anger, his ethereal face twisted by rage.
I trembled with fear, but managed to squeak, “It was I. I am so sorry, oh great genie, if I disturbed your bowel movements.”
“That’s not what I meant! But whatever, it wasn’t really your fault. Tin makes for terrible insulation.” He shrugged.
“Yeah, I…I can imagine,” I agreed. “Um, I hope you don’t mind my asking, but uh…aren’t you supposed to live in a lamp?”
“I used to, but I was convicted of a burglary a year ago and the Genie Convention downgraded my home as punishment. Anyway, to business: I’m supposed to grant you three wishes.”
“Don’t pretend you’re surprised. It’s a well known fact. Leads to blatant abuse of the system. Groups of kids go out and hunt down a genie, one takes his wish and then tosses the lamp over to their buddy. But what can one middle-class genie like me do about it? Fuckin’ politics. You know Bridgegate? I cannot believe Chris Christie…”
“Hang on, hang on. What about these three wishes of mine…?”
“Fine. That’s the problem with you humans. ‘Gimme gimme gimme!’ You don’t even know how to have a polite conversation!”
“I really don’t think talking politics is the best example of a ‘polite’ conversation,” I said.
“Whatever, man. The deal is: you get three wishes. You may not wish for more wishes, and you may not wish for immortality or magic. Let’s get this over with.”
“Okay, well, I have to think about this.”
“Come on! I don’t have all day.”
“You were sitting in a beer can in the middle of the desert.”
“Watching Downton Abbey, which I have now missed, thanks to you!”
“Alright. So…wishes. I wish for…20 million dollars. Can you do direct deposits?”
“Nope. You want money, I give you money right here and now. In gold.”
“Gold?! But what use is that to me? I can’t carry it!”
“I know, I know. The system is outdated. Try again.”
“Okay. I wish for world peace.”
“I’d have to reset human civilization back to a foraging system. There’s 7 billion of you, and not enough natural resources to naturally sustain the population once agriculture is eliminated. Up to three quarters of the people on the planet would die within three weeks. You sure you want that?”
“No! Jesus Christ! Um…okay, I wish for eternal happiness.”
“I can give you a life’s supply of narcotics.”
“Not exactly what I had in mind. I wish I were the most handsome man on the planet.”
“Buddy, you’d have to go through so much facial reconstruction not even your mother would recognize you afterwards.”
“Gee, thanks. How about a beautiful girlfriend who is the love of my life?”
“That’s two wishes.”
“Beauty is one. And love of your life is two. If you wanted her to be intelligent, you’d use up your third. That would leave out humor, skinny, and ‘enjoys sex’, common descriptors of women that people often ask me for.”
“I wish to speak all the languages on Earth, then.”
“Not possible. Your brain would dissolve with that much information.”
“I wish to go through all the things on my bucket list.”
“Could easily be accomplished on your own.”
“I wish to be successful.”
“To be a good cook.”
“To play every instrument on Earth.”
“Okay, I wish I were really really intelligent.”
“I wish you were too.”
“You know what. Fuck you.” I grabbed his can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, crushed it in my hands, mounted my camel, and continued my journey.