The first rule: be careful what you wish for

The rule is three. Find the lamp, clean it up, a genie pops out, three wishes. Easy.

And ever since a fateful Sunday afternoon some time in 1981 where my TV watching coincided with Sinbad and the Seven Seas, those three wishes have tormented and inspired me.

Tormented because everyone knows a genie is not to be trusted. He's a shyster with allegiance to no-one and a chip on his shoulder you could build a castle with. He'll give you three wishes, sure, that's the rule, but he will make certain he interprets them in the worst possible way.

Want to be filthy rich - boof, you're a pig in muck. Want world peace - boof, you've just caused human extinction.

It could be the genie does this to demonstrate the danger of unlimited power and greed or it could just be the genie is a bastard. Whatever, when making your wishes you have to be precise.

Back in 1981, I figured out how to beat the genie and so I could wish for whatever I wanted. From this vast realm of possibilities I went for a swimming pool of Fanta. In those days I couldn't get enough of the sickly orange goop and would go to great lengths to get even a sip. Thoughts of diving into six feet of it, pulling a lazy backstroke and taking great mouthfuls whenever I wanted made me drool.

The middle of my three wishes didn't really matter. You see my third wish was always infinite wishes or, more precisely, a way to secure infinite wishes.

Now a genie is not governed by many rules but the rule of three is sacrosanct and cannot be broken. As a five-year-old I could see the only way to get around this was for your third wish to be that you would find the lamp again and get three more wishes. Well actually two, the third one always being the same.

As I aged, my first wish changed to $1 million. Not in cash or coins but in New Zealand bills in my trusty Taranaki Savings Bank account. That $1m would be enough to buy a house, a boat, a car, a few trips and all the other things you think you'll need to be happy. Things were cheaper back then.

The second wish was still unimportant because I had my third wish and after that I would have as many wishes as I wanted.

But then I met and became close to an Aladdin fan who explained my third wish would never work. They didn't have a real explanation, just a frightening conviction bordering on Crazy Town. This led me to believe they had given it more thought and energy than me, so I let the third wish trick go.

And anyway, infinite wishes do destroy the beauty of the rule of three. Like when you grow up and can buy as many lollies and chips and chocolate as you want. You eventually realise moderation is what made those things enjoyable in the first place.

So by the age of 32 I had finally confined myself to three wishes. The first wish remains similar to my early teen dream though somewhat larger at $1 billion. This is because I am also wishing for my extended family and friends. And you can't just give someone $1m these days. You feel sorry for someone if they get that much on Lotto. Only $10m is acceptable these days, which means my $1b would almost certainly be down to $500m within a few weeks. Which I hope would be enough to keep financial anxiety at bay.

The second wish, that troublesome imp, is now where I have to put my thinking cap on. You don't want to let this money change you or your family and friends. So the second wish has to be that no-one knows you've got the money just as your friends and family don't know who gave them theirs.

That will be tricky to do. The genie will try and get me here I know. He will endeavour to cause infighting, argument, hatred. Money does that. I'll be treading carefully.

Because the outcome of the second wish is an unknown, I think I might just want to sit on the third wish for a while. Just to see how it all pans out. If it all goes well that is when I will use the last wish for something worthy. I'll be steering clear of those earnest things like eradication of hunger, disease or war. If you have a proper genie he'll make damn sure that isn't what you get.

I think the best thing is to keep it simple.

Call an old friend, a father, sister or daughter - wish them all the best.

Taranaki Daily News