When you wish upon a star, your dream comes true. -Jiminy Cricket
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. -16th Century Proverb
I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner. -A Very Peculiar Person
Wishes are nonsense, a fact everyone over ten accepts, except maybe Paris Hilton, who undoubtedly has found from personal experience, that wishes do come true if you have millions of dollars and too much time on your hands.
Despite this general understanding, however, we continue, as a culture to wish: I wish it would stop raining. I wish I had Jennifer Anniston’s hair. I wish the Cubs would win the Pennant. None of us have any expectation that these things might happen because, in the real world, some things are simply unattainable.
Yet the wish is encamped in our everyday language with little expectation that it will pack up and move on, much like your Mother-in-Law. (I didn’t make her my Mother-in-Law, because I like mine.)
Would it surprise you to know that the word “wish” shows up as 857th on a list of the most frequently used words in the English language? It would surprise me too, because I just made that up. But the fact that some of you were impressed by that number proves that it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.
Unlike many goofy ideas which some folks readily believe, the idea of wishes pre-dates the Internet, Hollywood and The National Enquirer. In fact, the idea of a generous Genie in a bottle with the ability to grant wishes even predates sixties TV.
In the ancient tale of the Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp, our hero finds an old lamp in the desert, just after he does a musical number with a monkey. Kidding, that was Disney. In the traditional story, Aladdin discovers a Genie, who sounds just like Robin Williams, who is required to grant three wishes to whomever attempts to buff up the tarnished old thing. Or the lamp.
Three wishes. Who hasn’t daydreamed about this idea? If you’re anything like me, (and let’s hope not, for your sake,) you feel a little thrill at the concept. What would I choose if everything in the world were offered to me in the form of three wishes? Would I blow one wishing that the Cracker Barrel near my home would re-open? Probably. I have two more, right?
Would I try the old, “For my first wish, I want three more wishes?” Or just ask for an unlimited supply of cash, like HMOs have? That way I could buy my own Cracker Barrel.
It’s an exciting prospect, albeit impossible. Cracker Barrel won’t even answer my calls.
Although, we have all resigned ourselves to the sad truth that wishes are just playgrounds for the mind, we seem disinclined to impart this knowledge to our children. In fact, each time their birthday rolls around, we set a cake ablaze, plop it down in front of their little faces, (which are complete, for the most part, with highly flammable hair) and demand they make a wish. Not only do we insist the child silently imparts a wish before putting out the potential bonfire, we advise them not to tell anyone about the nature of the wish. Why is that? Does in negate the warranty?
If we had put some thought into this rule before it was on the books, and really wanted to mess with their developing minds, (and isn’t that what parenting is all about?) we’d tell them to wish aloud and then go about proving that wishes are a legitimate function of receiving one’s true desire. However, since 85% of all children under five wish for a pony, (yes, I made that up as well,) it’s probably just as well that they keep their wishes to themselves.
Yahoo! Answers offers a list of ways to assure a wish will come true, which include, but are not limited to: Blowing a fallen eyelash off of a friend’s finger, holding one’s breath for the entirety of a tunnel, (which depending on the tunnel, might make you wish you hadn’t done that while lying in traction), tossing a coin into a wishing well or fountain, (the mall’s favorite course of action), seeing a shooting star, seeing 11:11 on a clock, (which intrigues me as my mother, who makes things up, says I was born at 11:11am on November 11th), and catching a feather.
We, as a culture, are so enamored of the idea of wishing, we have even turned to the macabre to procure out deepest desires. How many of us have clutched the Y-shaped ends of a “wishbone” and pulled to see which of us will get a wish? That is someone’s breastbone, for crying out loud.
I suppose, if there were a logical explanation of why wishes are out of the question it’s that, for every wish granted, another would be negated. For instance, my wish that my favorite family restaurant (which I won’t name again, but its initials are C. B.) would return to Elgin would conflict with someone else’s wish to their blood pumping through their veins unencumbered.
Plus, somebody would have to be in charge of granting the wishes and there are only so many ponies.