The Weather

Honest and Unbiased: Abdul-Waajid, Genie of the Lamp

Abdul-Waajid, Genie of the Lamp
Urartu, Armenia
2 Stars

If you’re like me, you know that for that classic wish-granting experience, you’ve got to go genie.  Leprechaun wishes simply aren’t worth the chatter, and shooting stars all too often end up with a lesson about being yourself—not my cup of tea. I’m looking for my every depraved desire instantly realized, not a feel-good moral, thanks.

While I’ve had my fair share of genies of the ring, genies of the bottle, and, in one unmemorable foray, a genie of the snow globe (see my previous one-star review), this was my first encounter with a genie of the lamp. This is the genie variety most lauded in the press, so my expectations were justifiably pretty high. Though my time with Abdul-Waajid, Servant of the Seeker, didn’t completely disappoint, it was not to be the enchanting experience I had hoped for.

For starters, getting to the lamp was, frankly, a chore. I’m no neophyte when it comes to magical quests, but I could have done without the whole “labyrinth of doom” angle. At this point, it’s just stale. I’ll admit that the Marsh of Madness had its moments, and the sentient fire was a nice touch, but giant spiders? Get real. On the whole, the breeziness and lack of focus to this maze makes Narnia look like The Dreamlands—in a word, unimpressive. Besides, genies are Arabic, and labyrinths are decidedly Greek, which throws the authenticity of the whole enterprise into question.

However, with lamp in hand, things began looking up. The lamp itself is well made and durable. The design is charming if simple—it wouldn’t go with my home décor needs, but that’s more a matter of personal taste. With a simple rub, the genie burst forth.

Abdul-Waajid, Spirit of the Ether, had pretty much everything you’d hope for. Borne from a smokeless and scorching fire? Check. That little wispy tail thing instead of legs? Check. Best of all, he introduced himself with a simple and unassuming “your wish is my command,” instead of the celebrity imitations or full-blown musical numbers that today’s genies seem so partial to.

After the standard wish-related legalese (limit three per participant, wishing for more wishes exempted, etc.), I was ready to go. For my first wish, I went with untold riches. It’s pretty basic, sure, but I wanted to see if this genie had good fundamentals. I’m pleased to report that my expectations were matched and exceeded. In no time at all, I found myself the owner of a gigantic mansion, a slew of priceless artifacts, and enough gold and jewels to make Scrooge McDuck blush. So far, so good.

For wish two, I decided on immortality. This is where I was worried we’d get into trouble. Be as specific as you like when asking for eternal youth—most genies will leave you a walking corpse or babbling mental patient in less than a decade. But again, this genie delivered. It’s been over 3,000 years since I made that wish and still no perceptible sign of decline. And for those who are curious: No, food does not turn to ashes in my mouth.

The reason I didn’t give a higher rating has to do with the third wish. At this point, I was actually so impressed with the service and product that I decided to use my final wish to free Abdul-Waajid, Keeper of The Forgotten Arts, from the lamp. I did, but as it turns out, he is an incubus of nightmarish evil. Before you know it, he’s used his godlike powers to enslave humanity and plunge the world into everlasting darkness. Not what I had in mind!

Would I recommend a friend somehow trick Abdul-Waajid, Destroyer of Light, back into imprisonment and use his magic to undo his heinous horrors? Yes I would—but be sure to skip wishing him free and dooming us all forever. It all but spoiled the entire experience.

Read more from the Honest and Unbiased series.

Matt Crowley is a writer, director, and improviser living in Brooklyn. He wishes he was a professional magician. Find him on Twitter @MatthewPCrowley.