Friday, May 15, 2009


I’m here to speak on behalf of the genie.

What genie, you ask?

The one that everybody’s trying to put back in the bottle. Or more accurately, the one that everybody says can’t be put back in the bottle.

Well, of course not. He didn’t come out of a bottle in the first place. He came out of a lamp, for crying out loud. Give the guy a break!

Another thing: the genie that people want to put back in a bottle is usually something really bad or dangerous – nuclear power, for example, or global warming, or credit default swaps.

But Aladdin’s original genie was good – he would do anything you asked. How – or where – did the genie go bad?

These questions are bugging me. I’m thinking of genie because I keep hearing some policy wonk on NPR bemoaning the fact that he’s out of the bottle and can’t be put back in. If I had three wishes, one of them would be for people to get back to the lamp. Maybe that would work.

And where did the idea of “three wishes” come from? I’m guessing from mythology or a fairy tale, but whatever the source, it’s certainly well entrenched in our culture. We have Three Wishes the movie, Three Wishes the TV show, Three Wishes the book, even a catalog of three wishes cartoons and a genre of three wishes jokes.

A lot of people are looking for genies and three wishes to reinvent themselves these days. “Genie, reboot me as a gifted musician.” “I wish I had gone to law school.” “Reinvent me as a star NFL quarterback.” “I wish I had my 401(k) again.”

Not being granted such gifts, people are doing it the old fashioned way, one step at a time. It’s not magic, but it gets the job done.

So I wish you well in your reinvention journey. Oops, I guess that was my second wish. Well, at least I put it to good use!

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