Wish: I wish my cat could talk.
Evil Genie: Raffles can talk! Everyone gather around! It’s an evil genie miracle! Raffles is speaking wonderfully, slightly mewy, high-pitched… Urdu.
Whatever, this is still great. You’re one Rosetta Stone away from talking to your cat! You try to use Google Translate to break through the code of Raffles’ frantic babbling, but have a difficult time keeping up — never mind spelling what he’s meowing. Your apartment sounds like a Bollywood version of Stuart Little, but you’re still enchanted. Raffles is so smart, you think, and you start to daydream about the media possibilities: TV, movies, and obviously, the internet. Raffles is going to make this jerk look like this jerk (still adorable, but possibly dead). You’re going to be so rich, which justifies the cost of a 24-hour interpreter.
When your interpreter, Mike, arrives, he seems more taken aback by Raffles than amazed. You had been trying to clean Raffles for his first meeting with his new friend, and your interpreter stiffly informs you that Raffles’ aversion to baths isn’t a run-of-the-mill “cats hate water” thing, but a misguided and literal interpretation of what it means to be a “wetback.” Your cat is racist, and not very smart. The happy whine you hear when you put down his food dish, a noise you always assumed was tantamount to a “thank you,” is revealed to be a jab at your Jewish grandmother. The purr that Raffles lets out when seated on his favorite sunny couch spot is actually a disparaging joke about “negros.” The delighted growl he makes when you rub his back translates from Cat to Urdu to English into a surprisingly long harangue about how shiftless and lazy Calicos are. You’re stunned. Mike suspects that Raffles learned his hateful ways from you and quits. He storms out, and you’re ashamed. Alone, you call out to Raffles, but you don’t hear the yammering of his tiny feline speech.
Mike stole your cat. Raffles wasn’t racist. How could you even believe that? Sweet old Raffles?
Together, Mike and Raffles, since renamed Raj, are an overnight sensation. A YouTube video (“Shit Talking Cats Say In Urdu”) begets a feature film deal, a TV talk show, and more endorsement deals than you can shake a dead cat at. No matter how much you insist, no one believes that superstar Raj is your weird old cat Raffles, the one who pooped in the shoes of your house guests. His face is on the cover of magazines (Cat Fancy, Newsweek), and the sides of buses. It’s torture — and you’ve still never truly exchanged a word with your best furry friend. You try to contact Raffles, but he refuses to pick the phone inside his scale model of the Taj Mewhal.
Penniless from interpreter costs, catless, and socially ostracized due to your paranoid rantings, you try to get your head straight. You take some Urdu classes, and learn to make organic cat food. You want to win Raffles back, sorry that you ever tried to monetize his talents. He was always special to you, even before he was the king of all cats.
At your final language lesson, as you tell your teacher, “آپ کا شکریہ,” you look up to see the silent crawl of the cable news ticker: “Hero Cat Raj, dead at age 17, of stress. Rashes of copycat cat suicides follow.” You barrel over your teacher to turn the sound on. “If only he’d never learned to talk,” the pundits cluck, “he surely would have lived another ten years.” “Oh, at least,” the others agree “And none of this horrible tragedy would have befallen us. Truly, ours is vengeful god.”
You watch the footage of other cats and tiny kittens jumping out of windows (tenth time’s the charm), lying under bus wheels, or hanging themselves with adorable balls of string. You’re looking out at a future with no more cats at all. You fall to your knees, exhausted, confused, and guilt-stricken, weeping and praying to Raffles in his adopted tongue.
Wish: I wish to marry you.
Evil Genie: Wow, I … do. I’m honor-bound to acquiesce to this wish, but I’d like to say that I am also honored. And I’m sorry that this won’t be turning out better for you.
We move into my place and start to try to make a life for ourselves. From the very beginning, it’s hard: you have trouble getting in and out of the lamp, the whole “evil deeds” thing is sort of a karmic downer, the Djinn economy is magic-based which leaves you out of work, and the bottom half of my body disappears into a fine smoke, but marriage is a contract, just like wishes are, and I take my contracts seriously. “Never is a promise and you can’t afford to lie.” — Djionna Apple.
You start taking some basic bewitching classes to get by, and I promise to make a concerted effort to avoid fulfilling wishes with things like rape and the horrible murder of children, focusing instead on smaller evil deeds like causing people to miss the subway, or to fall slowly and painfully out of love with their high-school sweethearts. At first you’re pleased to see that I’m making an effort, but the decrease in my power starts to eat at both of us. Smokecrotch or no smokecrotch, you’re just not attracted to me in the same way anymore. Your sorcery classes are taxing and long, and your human brain struggles to comprehend what you’re learning. We’re tired, and fighting, and not communicating. This is not your beautiful lamp, this is not your beautiful genie. The worst thing about being married to me, you find, is that up close there is really no magic to it at all, just a lot of sadness.
One night, after I’ve granted an ambitious social climber a way to be remembered (throwing up on President Obama during American Idol), you look up from your Transmorphing textbook and call me a pussy. Didn’t I see how much more havoc I could have wrought? The wisher didn’t even get any vomit on Jennifer Lopez! There was no chaos, no stampede, no Secret Service coup. There wasn’t a single eyewitness suicide!
The next day, you skip Economics of Financially Profitable Wishes and take a walk. Your classes are useless, they hinder your creativity and destroy your confidence. You know that you could grant wishes with acres more wicked panache than me, your husdjinn. Waiting for the subway, you smile at an elderly man beside you and he smiles back. “Sir,” you say, leaning conspiratorially closer, “If you could have one wish, what would it be?” “Me? A wish?” the old man replies, “Oh, I’m long pass my wishing days, dear. But I suppose, if I could have one last wish, I’d like to take a nice trip.” You’re astonished at how easily it all comes together. The man’s wish, your training, the oncoming 6 train, your shoe, his elderly knees. In an instant, you’re hearing a bone-chilling crack, and looking at his blood on your hands. And somehow, you don’t feel the ironic glee I’ve so frequently described.
You know this marriage is over. You have never trusted my love, knowing it was just the terms of a magical contract, but you just don’t know what is next for you. You lost your family and friends after a drunken wish-granting spree at our wedding left most of them hospitalized, homeless, or jailed on falsified child pornography charges. You’ve been out of work for decades in person-years, and your best, most optimistic days are long behind you. You never had two daughters, or went back to art school, or learned to make soufflé. If you wanted a soufflé, I always just poofed it up for you. It might have tasted like rotten bananas and coffee grinds, but it was still a free soufflé. You’re coddled and useless, lonely and alienated, angry and bitter and mad with hopelessness. You’re a murderer, and you’re still six credits away from your magical degree. You know that I will never let you out of this marriage, not even for a trial separation, because this marriage was your wish, and a wish is a promise. You know that you can’t hide from me, because I’m a goddamn genie.
Defeated, you take the F train out to Coney Island. You look up at the Ferris wheel and out at the ocean. You think you liked it here once, but don’t quite remember. You lie down in the surf, and steady your eyes on the sky. Maybe I’ll find you, or maybe you’ll quietly die. You don’t have the wherewithal to care much which.
Wish: i wish for all the kush i can have
Evil Genie: Granted. Check your pockets, my stoner friend. Are they empty? That’s weird. Oh wait, it’s not weird, because pot is illegal in most states. All the kush you “can have” is no kush. Zero kushes. What is with the lazy and unambitious wording of this wish? How about all the kush you “can handle”? Or all the kush you “can smoke”? Or all the kush you “can successfully hide from the police”? Even if you’re in one of the 16 states (and DC!) that has medical marijuana, the amount you “can have” hinges on you having a prescription. I had really hoped that mind-expanding drugs would make you a more interesting and challenging wisher, so at least you can stuff your empty pockets with my disappointment.
Leave a wish below! Next week, the Evil Genie will grant the best three wishes from this thread.