Be careful what you wish for...

Could someone explain to me the attraction of breakfast in bed? You sit there, folded in on yourself, a tray balanced precariously on your lap, trying to saw away at a sausage, your every movement sending a tsunami of tea from cup to tray, while the one slice of toast seems to spray the sheets with crumbs, some of which will still be there months later, miraculously surviving countless brushings, washings and probably a nuclear holocaust.

If breakfast in bed was the only thing humans knew, imagine the excitement when someone invented breakfast with a table and chair.

”What we’ve done is developed a firm, stable surface – we call it ‘the table’ – plus a comfortable device on which you can sit and yet still be at a perfect height in order to consume the plate of food on ‘the table’. We call this second part of the invention ‘the chair’.”

You can imagine people gushing in admiration. ”What, no more crumbs? No more spilt tea? No more trying to digest while simultaneously being bent double as if you were attempting some sort of weird yoga pose?”

The proud inventor would smile with pleasure. ”Yes – and we’re planning to make a second chair, and perhaps even a third chair. That way it would be possible to dine with others.”

Cue assorted exclamations of delight and surprise.

Despite the invention of tables and chairs, people still spend time desperately wishing someone would make them breakfast in bed.

As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. In fact, many things we fantasise about would prove enormously rubbish should they ever arrive.

For example: driving a red convertible, with an attractive blonde in the passenger seat. It certainly looks great when observed from the driver’s seat of your family hatchback, the car littered with the detritus of family life, the windows smeared with dog slobber, the luggage compartment full of slowly defrosting shopping, the baby seats in the back, each surrounded by a moat of apple juice, mashed chips and that strange, grey, furry stuff that only grows around baby capsules.

Viewed from that perspective, the convertible looks pretty good as it glides past in the right-hand lane.

Well, it looks good until you realise the guy bought the car just three days ago and only then as a last vain attempt to cure his erectile dysfunction, itself a product of his failure at work and his loathsome marriage and that the attractive blonde’s conversation is so wretched the man finds himself speeding up just to drown it out, at which point the car, driven too hard, will break down somewhere outside Bargo, in which place the couple will spend a miserable and cheerless weekend, climaxing – or, rather, not climaxing – in another misery-causing episode of erectile dysfunction.


Really, you’re better off in your nice hatchback. So be careful what you wish for.

Or consider the whole world of boating. Oh, they look fantastic when you are walking past. There’s nothing like a large, shiny motor cruiser when viewed from the shore. You can just see yourself aboard: surrounded by a bevy of the beautiful, all of them sipping chardonnay and asking if they can have a go with your throttle.

Yet the moment you climb aboard a boat is the moment you start to appreciate the pleasures of land. Once aboard, you understand why, in the early stages of evolution, the forebears of our species put in such a big effort to grow legs and lungs: it was because, from their watery perspective, being on dry land looked so damned good.

Think of all the energy expended by those early half-fish, grunting and groaning as they thrashed about 375 million years ago, trying to push out the stump of a leg or form a bit of lung, coughing and spluttering as they tried to go a minute without their gills. So much effort. So much pain. And what do the boaties and the yachties do? They try to get back out there. Talk about unappreciative.

Once aboard, the deck lurches from side to side. The whole place stinks of engine oil and the chardonnay is warm because the wind-driven fridge has never worked. At this point, the bevy of the beautiful start throwing up over the side.

Over the next four hours, everyone aboard will go through the two stages of seasickness. First you fear you are going to die; then you fear you won’t.

After this experience, most owners will never take the boat out again. That’s why, on a beautiful weekend morning, all the boats are still lined up in the marina, able to be admired by the passing pedestrian. The owners have been out on them. Once. They are not about to repeat the experience.

And so the boat sits there for a decade or so leaching money. Motor cruisers achieve what socialists can only dream of: they determinedly and continuously separate rich men from their money.

I could go on. Skiing. Sex with someone you don’t know. Spa tubs. All, frankly, rubbish. At least so I’m told.

Really, it’s just as well our wishes are so rarely granted.

This article originally appeared here and has been reproduced with permission.

Richard Glover is the author of 12 books, most recently Why Men are Necessary and More News from Nowhere, a collection of his comic pieces for radio’s Thank God It’s Friday. He is also author of The Mud House, the story of building a house in the middle of nowhere with no power tools.

His book Desperate Husbandshas been a best-seller in Australia and is published in translation in Italy and Poland and he’s also written two short novels for children – The Dirt Experiment and The Joke Trap.

Richard is also the author of The Dag’s Dictionary, published by ABC Books and based on the Drive Show competition.

His other writing includes In Bed with Jocasta, The P-Plate Parent (co-written with Angela Webber), and Lonestar, a stage show about country music.

Click on any of the links to buy Richard’s books. You wont be disappointed.


Have you ever wished for something you later regretted?