Three wishes. That’s all you ever get.

Why is that, I wonder? At some point, the genie just up and decided that three was his limit. Maybe that’s all he’s capable of before he loses his mojo; in that way, he’s sort of like Alanis Morisette, a few big hits and then silence for decades. (Take that, Alanis!) Or maybe there are cosmic rules the genie has to follow ”“ “Gee, Aladdin, I’d love to give you more wishes, but corporate’s breathing down my neck, there’s a lot of talk about efficiency, and well, you know how it is.” Strange to think that a being who’s able to make dreams come true at the snap of a finger would still be answerable to a higher power.

Whatever the reasons, though, three’s the limit, and this makes knowing what to wish for a pretty tough endeavor. You’ve really got to prioritize and figure out what’s important to you. Maybe that’s the point.

As an adult, it’s impractical to think about such things. Genies in bottles, after all, don’t actually exist, and so there’s an element of pointlessness in mulling what my three wishes would be. To survive day-to-day life, I have to fill my head with adult-type things, like figuring out what to make for dinner, and planning a supplement regimen that makes it so I poop more easily. It’s exhausting being a grown-up.

Yet here I am, a man who’s retained more than his share of childishness, turning the issue over in his ol’ noodle regardless. The problem is that there are a lot of things I’d wish for that would be frivolous, and wouldn’t make the final cut.

So let’s modify the familiar scenario, shall we? Let’s say you stumble into a cave after yet another exhausting and fruitless attempt to take video of Bigfoot. Temporary shelter is all you seek, but you find something more: a gold-tinged lantern with “GENIE” written on the side, “Made in China” stamped on the bottom and a handle festooned with a large Wal-Mart logo. (These things don’t happen without corporate sponsorship. Let’s be realistic.) You give the artifact three good rubs, and poof! Out pops an ethereal genie wearing a diamond-studded turban, and for some inexplicable reason, a Def Leppard T-shirt with mustard stains on the collar. Apparently he’s been trapped in that thing for a while.

“Today’s your lucky day!” he exclaims. “Usually we grant only three wishes, but today we’re running a special ”“ unlimited wishes with your purchase of a $20 gift card. The cards come in classic blue or with a Garfield theme. Your pick!”

Unlimited wishes. What would yours be? Here are a few of mine:

I’d wish for all of the world’s hairsprayed, fishnet-wearing, teeny-bopper bubblegum pop acts to be rounded up on a spaceship and sent to a special colony on Mars. There, they’d be free to croon and sway and “Oh baby” to an audience of ugly orange rocks and broken-down NASA rovers. The Miley Cyruses, the Justin Biebers, the One Directions ”“ all banished to outer space, and replaced here on Earth with rockers who play instruments and sing without Autotune. Just once I’d like to flip on the Grammys and not endure a bunch of spoiled millionaires who, in a just world, would be flinging boogers in a middle school science class.

I’d wish for a Labrador retriever who could yodel and play the bagpipes. I’d finally have that viral Internet video I’ve always wanted. And at long last I could fulfill my lifelong dream of being interviewed on “Ellen.”

I’d wish for Swiss Army hands. Anyone familiar with the superhero Wolverine? He contracts the muscles in his forearms and a bunch of knife-like metal claws pop out just above his knuckles. I want something like that, only with an array of tools: Screwdriver, nail file, scissors, tape measure, tire pressure gage, bottle opener, maybe even a universal remote control and a tube of decongestant nasal spray. I’d be a hit at parties!

I’d wish for the ability to fly like Superman. Who wouldn’t wish for the ability to fly like Superman? I’d also wish for a flying assistant so I wouldn’t have to keep toting my luggage back and forth to Bora Bora. Because honestly, if I could skip body scans at customs and the awful Cold War-era chicken they serve on commercial airlines, Bora Bora is where I’d be spending most of my time.

I’d wish for superhuman metabolism so I could eat whatever I wanted to without gaining weight. The desire to fit into my one functional suit compels me to follow occasionally healthy dietary guidelines, but let’s face it, healthy eating stinks. Aside from keeping us alive, what fun is it? Guilt-free binge eating is a common fantasy, and once fulfilled, the floodgates would be opened. I’m talking cookies heaped with frosting, cupcakes the size of goiters, muffins that can be seen from the International Space Station, and a pile of Halloween candy so massive it has to be trucked to my home in the back of a giant U-Haul. Vacations would be spent sequestered in my apartment with a lobster bib and a gallon bottle of Pepto Bismol. If at the end of five days I can still move without the aid of a nurse and a bucket of smelling salts, then the entire venture would be a failure.

I’d wish for new sneakers. Mine are dirty.

Naturally, this is an incomplete list. How do you whittle down your dreams and fantasies, your idle whimsies, into a digestible form fit for a turban-wearing genie? It’s near impossible, and that’s why three’s the limit; it focuses our desires, hones them into a streamlined knife-blade of want. The scope of human imagination is too limitless to be comfortable with such boundaries, but here we are, forced to choose and choose wisely. We ditch our second-tier wishes but there they remain, lodged in the part of the brain that still believes all things are possible. Our capacity for this belief diminishes with age, but it’s important never to relinquish it entirely. Within each of us is the child we once were, eyes affixed to a boundless horizon.

Still, a list without limits? Yeah, you wish.

— Jeff Lagasse is a columnist and Assistant Editor at the Journal Tribune, though he wishes he were an astronaut colonizing a far-flung planet. He can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 319 or [email protected]