Practical Wishes: A Play

Agrabah. Or a real place. It doesn’t really matter.

Some guy, Williams, buys a lamp at mysterious market stall. Upon rubbing it a genie, Robin, appears.

Why are people always rubbing lamps? I’ve never rubbed a lamp. Am I missing out? Hang on a second… It was alright I guess. Pretty much what I expected.

ROBIN: You have rubbed my lamp, I will grant you three wishes!


ROBIN: Excuse me?

WILLIAMS: Why would you grant me three wishes for rubbing your lamp. It’s not a very good deal from your point of view.

ROBIN: I don’t make the rules.

WILLIAMS: Who does?

ROBIN: Dave.

WILLIAMS: Who’s Dave?

ROBIN: The guy who makes the rules. From head office.

WILLIAMS: Why does he get to make the rules?

ROBIN: Look, kid, I’m not paid enough to know how the bureaucracy works. I just wait in the lamp until someone rubs it. Now do you want a wish or what? I’m halfway through Daredevil on Netflix.

WILLIAMS: Can I wish for more wishes?


WILLIAMS: Can I just rub the lamp again?

ROBIN: Only once per customer.

WILLIAMS: Can I wish for the power to grant my own wishes?

ROBIN: Are you a lawyer?


ROBIN: Well head office has a whole team of lawyers. Do you really think you’re going to find a loophole that they didn’t?

WILLIAMS: What if I wish for your freedom?

ROBIN: Then I’ll be unemployed.

WILLIAMS: What if I wish for Dave’s job?

ROBIN: Why would you want Dave’s job?

WILLIAMS: So I can change the rules.

ROBIN: That was Dave’s thinking. Turns out all rule changes have to go through upper management. Now he’s stuck at a desk all day doing spreadsheets. His last name is Bowie, just for a clue to what his life used to be like.

WILLIAMS: Ah, so you’re one of those sneaky genies that twists wishes into punishments?

ROBIN: Nope.

WILLIAMS: Then I’d like to fly, please.

ROBIN: I’ll have to give you huge impractically large wings and hollow bones that break easily. I’ll probably have to do something to your face, too, to make you more aerodynamic.

WILLIAMS: Can’t you just make me fly like Superman?

ROBIN: That would require breaking the laws of physics. I literally can’t imagine the damage that might cause to the universe.

WILLIAMS: I suppose that’s going to be the case for all super powers, isn’t it? Super strength would require arms so thick I can’t bend them, that sort of thing?

ROBIN: Afraid so.

WILLIAMS: Alright then, make me rich.

ROBIN: You’ll need to be more specific, rich is subjective.


ROBIN: Well, there’s rich in character, rich in friends, food can be too rich. Even if you mean material wealth, that’ subjective too. In some places, owning a goat makes a man rich.

WILLIAMS: Fine. Give me I’d like ten billion US dollars, please.

ROBIN: Well, there’s two ways that can be achieved. If I create ten billion new dollars, I risk causing inflation, devaluing not only your new money, but everyone’s. Alternatively, I can give you money that already exists, but that will mean taking it from other people. And unless you spend it all, you’ll essentially be removing ten billion dollars from the economy, and that might end up harming it as well.

WILLIAMS: You really know how to suck the fun out of wishes.

ROBIN: I’m a realist. I make no apologies.

WILLIAMS: Well, what if you give me the means to get rich on my own?

ROBIN: You’ll have to specify.

WILLIAMS: You could make me a great athlete.

ROBIN: Wouldn’t that be unfair to all the people who’ve worked so hard to get where they are?

WILLIAMS: Rock star?

ROBIN: Same.

WILLIAMS: Youtube celebrity?

ROBIN: Do you really want to be a Youtube celebrity?

WILLIAMS: Good point. Could you make me happy?

ROBIN: A genuinely fulfilling life requires other people you love, and who love you in return, so I’d have enthral some people you love and make them your emotional slaves.

WILLIAMS: What about on a purely chemical level?

ROBIN: Well, I suppose. But with only one emotion, you’ll have no motivation to do anything. You’ll literally be just as happy starving to death in a gutter as taking care of yourself, so if you don’t get locked up you’ll probably die young in squalor.

WILLIAMS: I’ve got it!

ROBIN: Go on then.

WILLIAMS: Make me stupid! Then I’ll fit in with society, I’ll like what’s on television, and I’ll always be right because I won’t be smart enough to know when I’m wrong!

ROBIN: Your wish is my command.

There is a flash of light. Suddenly Williams believes in homeopathy. 

ROBIN: Now what do you want for your next two wishes?

WILLIAMS: A trillion dollars! And super powers!


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