How to find the genie of your dreams.

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
Feb. 12 2009 6:51 AM

Rubbing Him the Right Way

How to find the genie of your dreams—and keep him coming back for more.

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If you think things with your genie could work out long-term, get him a green card. It'll save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Look at it from the authorities' point of view: Here's a strange man with a Middle Eastern accent and no papers who's wearing a vest, and you can't check his shoes for explosives because his feet end in smoky wisps.

Shalazam is currently applying for citizenship, although he's had trouble holding down a job for more than a month or two. You'd think someone who caters to his master's every whim would have an easy time in the service industry, but when customers tip poorly he tends to summon up sandstorms.

Too many people keep trying to make things work with a bad genie, no matter how many times their wishes have gone tragically or ironically awry. "I'm sure he just misheard me again," they think to themselves. "It's so tough to hear anything over that 12-inch pianist." If things with your genie do come to an end, remember that there are plenty of wish-granting fish in the sea. Don't make the mistake of rushing to find a new genie, thinking you can use your first wish to get your old one back. No one likes hearing how good a former genie was at granting wishes.

Household objects might make you think of an old genie. A throw rug might remind you of the time the two of you took a magic carpet ride to the moon. Or a platinum hookah filled with diamonds might remind you of the time you wished for a platinum hookah filled with diamonds. Fortunately, Shalazam helped me deal with these issues when he incinerated my mansion after I called him Mr. Clean.

Are things with Shalazam perfect? Of course not. He says I take his wishes for granted, and I don't like that he always insists on splitting the check. And of course there was the time I told him I wanted to see other genies, and he blotted out the sun and made me watch everyone I love shrivel away, and then he reversed time and undid it and then redid it, over and over until I changed my mind.

Still, the most important thing I've learned is that you should never use a wish to change your genie. He has to want to change on his own.

Frank Lesser is a writer for The Colbert Report and the author of Sad Monsters. You can follow him on Twitter.