Credit: Rachal Duggan

“I wish I could get on the Brown Line at Quincy and not have the train smell like pee, but wait: it wouldn’t smell like pee, and I could get a seat; then when we got to LaSalle/Van Buren no one—who are we kidding: a dude, it’s always a dude—would sit next to me and manspread me into a half-seat-sized person, so that when we stopped at Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren I could focus on how I don’t have a stack of overdue books that I keep forgetting to return and instead are racking up fines on my nightstand so as we came close to Washington/Wabash, when a group of tourists asked me if this was the stop for ‘the art museum,’ I wouldn’t even feel like correcting them with a ‘you mean the Art Institute?’ full of attitude; instead, I would be exceedingly helpful, so much so that they would offer me their unused tickets to Hamilton, which I would politely refuse, because I would have already seen it at least once because Lin-Manuel Miranda asked me to audition after noticing me singing karaoke at Brando’s Speakeasy, totally sober, and I was—no, had always been—a great singer my entire life, and never would my neighbors have sent me a politely worded e-mail asking that I watch the volume of ‘my shower-time activities,’ which meant my singing even though it sounds like a term for shower sex but it’s not, not at all, not because I’ve been single for six months thanks to my wife vanishing one day like the Randolph/Wabash stop but because I live with a very attractive Ukrainian who is without question my girlfriend and not just a model I saw at the Wit Hotel off of State/Lake, and besides in our penthouse with a view of the river around the corner from Clark/Lake we don’t even have to worry about noise complaints, because the couple downstairs are my best friends Michelle and Barack and they’re usually out of town working on her presidential campaign, and whose victory we are going to celebrate at Pizano’s where each slice has zero calories and is what I’d eat every day instead of Gold Coast Dogs, which is not even in the Gold Coast but it doesn’t matter, because we’d have stopped arguing about hot dog­-related things, like what the hell ketchup should and should not go on, thanks to being too busy riding the Holiday Train all year long.”

The genie’s eyes had narrowed down to slits.

“There,” I said. “Notice I only said ‘I wish’ once.”

He shut his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.

After he snapped his fingers, I found myself walking down the steps of the Washington/Wells stop on my way to the Civic Opera, where I was about to perform my first aria. Natasha and the genie met me backstage.

“OK,” he said. “Two more.”  v