This is a tale my mother told me, after I asked her what would happen if I found a magical genie.
The Genie of the Lunchbox
On a cold winter’s day, in a quiet suburb in a nondescript town, lived a little boy named Carlos. Well, actually, he wasn’t that little and he wasn’t a boy. He was a thirty eight year old man who collected plastic lunchboxes and read comic books. But boy sounds better, so we’re going to stick with that.
Carlos collected all sorts of lunchboxes, from Micky Mouse to Rainbow Brite, but his favorite lunchboxes were the ones with superheroes printed on them. He had Superman, Batman, even Capeman, a cheap generic knockoff superhero lunchbox he bought at a swap meet.
He kept all his lunchboxes on shelves in his living room and would sit on the floor, carefully polishing each and every one of them with a silk handkerchief. One day, he brought home a new lunchbox, with a strange superhero he had never heard of called Genieman.
Genieman looked like a tan bodybuilder in fancy Arabian clothing, while sitting under a tree and reading an old copy of People. The image almost seemed to move and Carlos swore he saw the figure turn the page of the magazine. He shrugged it off and pulled out his handkerchief, then started to polish the picture, carefully rubbing away dust particles and old bits of children’s lunch.
The lunchbox started to glow and Genieman popped from the picture like a 3D movie, growing in size until he nearly reached the ceiling. He looked down at Carlos and sighed.
“Why have you summoned me? I mean really, I was just sitting down, minding my own business and I get summoned by some dork -” He took a look around. “With a lunchbox collection. I knew I should have opted for a lamp.”
Carlos stood up and gawked at the genie, grinning more than the time he found a rare Aquaman lunchbox. “I’ve never net a real genie before. This is awesome! I have so many wishes! First, I want a million dollars. No wait, unlimited money. And a girl! One who can only agree with me!”
The genie laughed. “It still surprises me that you mortals think that one of the most powerful beings in the world has nothing better to do than grant wishes.”
“But…” Carlos blinked. “Isn’t that what Genies do?”
“No,” Genieman said. “We do what we want, when we want. The only reason we allow ourselves to be summoned is to find mortals who will be good servants, to live forever as our butlers, being repaid for their service with wine, women and luxury.”
Carlos’ eyes lit up.
“Sorry,” Genieman said. “You’re… Well, you’re not genie servant material. It’s nothing personal, it’s just my standards are pretty high. Maybe you could apprentice to an imp or something. I hear they offer dental.”
With that, the genie disappeared, along with the lunchbox in Carlos’ hands. He sighed and pulled down a monster truck lunch box and started to polish it, but nothing popped out, not even a hubcap.
Moral: If you’re lucky enough to meet a genie, he’ll probably think you’re too lame to be of use.
I just love Mother’s stories. They taught me so much and fill my heart with warm fuzzy feelings whenever I think of them.