Your Wish Has Been Granted

Zoltar - Watkins Glen, NY - July 2014

By Judy Berman

I wander thru the crowd, pleased to see a familiar face.

If anyone can grant me a wish, it will be this dark, mysterious stranger. His piercing, blue eyes meet mine, probing to determine what brings me to him.

Suddenly nervous, I hesitate before I ask. Then, stammer: “I want to be a kid again.”

Zoltar stares. His mouth agape. He shuffles a few cards, utters some mumbo-jumbo, and then he sits silently as the arcade machine spits out my fortune.

In the movie, “Big,” (1988), Josh Baskin (young Josh played by David Moscow) is humiliated when he’s not allowed on a carnival ride because he’s too short. When he spots Zoltar, an antique arcade fortune teller machine, he tells Zoltar that he wants to be big.

A fortune slides out. On it: “Your wish has been granted.” His transformation takes place overnight, and he must adapt to the changes. Josh is physically bigger. Now played by Tom Hanks, he has a 30-year-old body, but he’s still a kid inside – nearly 13.

Josh enjoys the perks of the adult world – being paid for what he loves to do, having an apartment and a beautiful girlfriend. But he soon discovers that he misses his family. He tries to find a way to return to them.

Like, Josh, I look to see if the robotic fortune teller will grant my wish.

Strange. Isn’t it? We always think life will be better if we could trade places. If we could be older, younger, richer, smarter, more athletic or more popular.

When we’re young, we don’t know the adult worries of holding down a job, scrambling to pay bills or staying up nights worrying about a sick child. We don’t see the challenges. We only see what we perceive as greater freedom and to be on our own.

As adults, it’s also easy to forget youths’ troubles. Worrying about avoiding that bully who views you as a human punching bag. Fretting about failing a course … and, maybe, a grade. Trying not to be noticed when you’re with all of the other wallflowers at the school dance. Knowing you’re always on the outside looking in.

In my case, I forgot that, when I was little, everyone looked down on me. They didn’t have any other option. I was one of the smallest kids in high school – 7th thru 12th grades.

At 4 feet 6 inches in 7th grade, kids joked that my nickname should be “Squeaky” because I was too small to be called “Pip Squeak.” That’s when you learn to develop a sense of humor about your, er, shortcomings … or die a thousand middle-school deaths.

I think it will be a blast – even if it’s just for a short while – to return to those carefree days.

I miss climbing trees, exploring the woods and creeks with my Cocker Spaniel and hanging out with my friends. I long to re-experience the excitement a child feels at special times like his/her birthday or Christmas.

Zoltar - fortune2 - June 2014

I clutch my fortune in my hand as I walk away. I turn and look wistfully at Zoltar before the crowd envelopes him. Then, he disappears from view.

On the way back to my hotel room, I bypass all the shops. What’s the point? Who knows what size clothing I’ll need in the morning after my transformation?

This will be great, no matter how it turns out. As Frank Sinatra once sang: “Here is the best part. You have a head start if you are among the very young at heart.”


What would you wish for?

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Movie video: “Big” with Tom Hanks as Josh and Elizabeth Perkins as Susan. 

Movie video: Zoltar in “Big” 

1. Main Photo – Zoltar Speaks arcade machine – Watkins Glen, New York – taken by Dave Berman, July 25, 2014

2. Photo: my fortune – June 2014 – from the Zoltar Speaks arcade machine at Circus Circus casino/hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

  1. I don’t really want to go back to when I was a kid, but I’d love to go back in time for a day or two to when my teenagers were little. Just to experience those baby laughs and toddler hugs again. That would be lovely. But only for a day or two. No need to go back to changing diapers long-term…

    1. Carrie … I hear you. In one of those many surveys on Facebook, the question was what was your favorite decade. While I loved the Beatles in the 60s, I answered the 70s because that’s when my two daughters were born. I enjoyed those years. And, yes, I would only want to revisit them for a few days. No need to re-experience the long-term angst of their teen years. 😉

  2. This one touched me. This week we spent time with an old friend and his wife. They are so different from us it’s hard to believe we are friends except we connect on an intellectual level. They are going to French Polynesia for a month staying in one of those cabins on stilts over the water. I have always been fascinated with that part of the world. They travel a lot and do very interesting things with lots of people. I came home and told my husband that we are really boring people. As much as I envy their trip, I don’t want to fly all that way. I would miss my cats for that much time and ultimately, I think I would get bored on a vacation that long. I can listen to their tales and enjoy them but my envy is very short lived. However, it’s a good thing that Zoltar wasn’t on the way home.

    1. What if you could combine your fantasy vacation with the cats? They might like chasing the fishies in the water and you’d get to experience the exotic lifestyle of those who live there. Kate, we also sit there wishing we could visit all the places we hear about. That’s when the Travel Channel comes in handy. Thanks for sharing. 😉

      1. That’s one solution but I will still think we are a boring couple!

        comment from earthrider to kate crimmins:
        Even though I can identify with that, Kate, I doubt it. But you certainly don’t want to be one of those ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ couples either. 😆

  3. what a great post and a great question, judy. i would like to have all of my daughters and grandchildren around me at one time, like what happened in the recent past, and look forward to in the not too distant future, hopefully )

    1. A wonderful wish, Beth, and one that I think Zoltar might be able to fulfill. If we could only gather all those near and dear to us – even for just a day – that would be sweet. 😉

  4. I would wish for the ability to see the blessing in what I already have… That wasn’t my first thought though Judy. My first thought was bigger boobs! haha
    Diana xo

      1. And I do acknowledge the total superficiality of that response but world peace and harmony seemed too obvious. XXX

        comment from earthrider to Barbara of Silver in the Barn:
        Not superficial at all. That’s a lovely wish. 😉

  5. Fun read. I like it ! A little fantasy and simplicity, I think, brings some needed balance to our “real lives”… However, I don’t think anybody’s grandkids will ever see the fun and simplicity we had when we were growing up….

    1. Those were the days, my friend. I am sad when I read about kids who don’t go outside because they’re worried about the violence … or, they’re too preoccupied with video games and social media. It’d be great if they could experience the fun we had without all the gadgets. 😉

  6. When BIG was shown on TV several years ago, Judy, I was visiting my parents and we all watched it together. Dad’s Alzheimer’s was getting worse, but I remember that evening. I made microwave popcorn and fixed root beer floats, and when the boy leaned forward to cite his wish, my dad stopped mid-bite and nearly dropped his popcorn. “Can he do it?” he asked.
    Dad fell asleep long before the movie ended, but I remember his question…the desperate need to know if it really might be possible to turn back the clock. For him, it was to turn back to a time before the Alzheimer’s, I think.

    1. What a wonderful concept, Marilyn. Your Dad’s wish was understandable. If only we could turn back the time to when we were healthy, able-bodied and on-our-toes sharp. I love this movie and the bittersweet ending. 😉

  7. I think I’ve read and seen too many stories that have bad endings when people wish for things, so I’m wary of making wishes. 🙂 I don’t think I’d like to actually go back to any other time, but it would be fun to see and revisit some of the times when my daughters were young. Maybe to go back as an observer?

    1. If you go back as an observer, Merril, remember that you cannot touch anything or change the outcome of anything. That’s what I got from the stories I’ve read. Yes, be careful what you wish for. I think it would be interesting to see my daughters when they were younger or when my Mom and Dad were younger. That would be interesting. 😉

  8. I wish that my daughter Elisabeth’s generation doesn’t need the Zoltar card, Judy, that things start straightening out economy wise, climate wise, peace wise, health wise, worldwide, for the rest of my years as the torch passes. Great post, my friend.

  9. Oh, oh, Judy! I loved this post and always liked that movie. Indeed, no use in buying clothes, you may be an entirely different size! This was poignant, because we all wish for more time, or to be a different age. We also may be sad, since we know it is impossible to time travel. But, the memories of our youth, our present day happy times all make up for our impossible wishes! Good post with such an interesting direction that you took me on today!

    1. I confess. I’m torn between two worlds: the fantasy world of the movies and reality. The former is fun to think about as we puzzle the ‘what ifs?’ The latter grounds us. Robin, I do wish at times that I could indulge in those fantasies. I’d love to step back and reconnect with those I knew when I was young and who might now be on another plane. 😉 Thank you for your comments.

      1. If I could make a wish, I would do the same, reconnect with my grandparents and my father, ask them more questions and maybe really listen to their answers. I would like to have a tape recorder included in my wish! I hope there really is another plane, which we will meet again on. Thanks for that thought, Judy! Smiles, Robin

        comment from earthrider to Robin of reocochran:
        Go back with a tape recorder! I love it. I wish I had taped more stories. Hear their voices, their phrasing. Wow! Thanks for that, Robin. 😉

  10. How I love that movie! Tom Hanks is adorable. I feared that the ending would be weak, but it worked so very well. Thanks for the memory here.

    To answer your question, what would I wish for? I think I’d like to experience carefree again. Not necessarily all the time, but for a week maybe? An afternoon? As I sit here typing this, I am aware of how very fortunate I am to have as few concerns and issues as compared to so many people on the planet. But still, it’s my quarter, and it’s my wish. And afternoon, then, of feeling carefree as I did when I was young. Thanks for asking, Judy.

    1. Sorry, it’s now a buck a wish – cost of inflation, you know. But I believe your money is well spent, Maggie. I’d opt for carefree. Even though, like you, I know how little I have to be stressed about. (That will change next week when students return to class and we have to follow a new curriculum, standards, etc.) 😉

      I also loved the way “Big” ended. Tom Hanks is one of my favorite actors. This movie is one reason why.

      1. Of course, what was I thinking? That movie came out 1988 (really? Nineteen EIGHTY-EIGHT??) A dollar it is, then.

        I wish you the best on your return to school. Deep breath!

        comment from earthrider to Maggie Wilson:
        Thanks for the good wishes, Maggie. I just took a deep breath … or was it a sigh? 😉

  11. I loved that film! Yes it would be great to pop back to childhood – especially in the summer – they were always longer and hotter, as I remember! Time was slower then, no household chores, just roaming around the fields and woods near our house with friends, or out on our bikes from dusk till dawn. Lovely!

    1. Jenny … It sounds like your childhood was a lot like mine. Summertime, I came home to eat lunch and then I was off again until dinner time. I feel for kids today who are glued to their electronic devices. They don’t know what they’re missing. 😉

      1. Isn’t it a shame? I certainly wouldn’t swap my childhood for one today!

        comment from earthrider to jennypellett:
        I was a real tomboy and enjoyed biking and hiking all over. If my Mom knew only half of my dare-devil stunts, her hair would have turned grey long before it did. 😉 I don’t think many kids are that active today.

  12. Judy, I would wish for a return to the time when real connection and closeness between people was valued. Family and friends tend to scatter now, and the relationships are often strained to the point of being almost non-existent. It isn’t that I want to turn back the clock. I don’t want to return to the time, but to the values.

    Great post, as always.

    1. I agree, Charles. It seems people picked up and moved where the jobs were. That’s what happened when I was nearly 8. We’d been living in my Grammy’s house along with another aunt and a cousin. When my Dad got a job in Syracuse, N.Y., we left Harrisburg and rarely saw my relatives after that. I missed that closeness. Thank you for your comments. 😉

  13. Ah yes, I remember the movie Big! Probably a good reminder not to wish for things we really aren’t ready for! 😉 I don’t think I’ve ever put a single coin in one of those Zoltar type machines that spits out your fortune on a piece of paper. Things like that were discouraged in my childhood, my parents weren’t lacking in fun, but they didn’t want me or my brother growing up with rubbish filled heads. But I do remember wasting many, many, small pennies on a lot of those other machines though, especially the ones where I won a whole load back. Did teach me not to waste time ever gambling, as I always lost a lot more than I received in winnings. Good lesson to learn at an early age! Ah yes, to be kid again, it would be nice – for a few hours maybe!

    You don’t look like someone who was a small kid Judy, I guess you found a good height in the end, or do you just wear very high shoes?!! 🙂 I know the feeling of being picked on, but never because of my height, kids just found something, anything to pick on, just because I was a nice quiet kid – not any more though! I know this is going to sound bad, and as a school teacher you will have to tell me off of course, but – I really wish I’d learnt to thump a few of those bullies all those years ago! Kids who were thumpers never got picked on again. Although, if I had children, I’d be a bit reluctant to suggest the idea. 😉

    1. Suzy … When my growth spurt kicked in, I grew about 3 inches a year. I’m not 5 foot 5 inches. So I did “grow” up. Mean kids don’t need much of a reason to pick on someone if they want to. I was bullied in 3rd, 4th and maybe 5th grades – all by the same boy. Then, one day, it stopped. My Mom said I thumped him. I don’t think I know the full story on that one. 😉

      My folks lived in Vegas. So I rarely even played the penny or nickel slots. I don’t play the lottery either. I figure the ‘odds are not in my favor.’

  14. Lovely weaving of real life and screenplay Judy. I would love to revisit my childhood. But not if I had to live it like my city bred grandchildren! The poor dears don’t even know what they are missing out on 🙂

    1. So true, Madhu. I think of the times I just took off on my bike and went exploring. Or, I hiked by myself or with my dog in the woods. I don’t hear many of my students sharing similar stories. 😉

  15. I am very happy in the present moment. If I could wish for something, I would wish for more time, so I could read more of your posts! Your fan, Ann

      1. I just signed up to get emails when you post, Judy. I think that’s going to help. Thanks for your wish!

        comment from earthrider to Ann Koplow:
        I didn’t realize how strong my powers were. 😉 (Thank you, Ann.)

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