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Make-A-Wish (Aella)

You can tell a lot about a person by their avatar—in Aella’s case it’s a decaying face, because that reflects her internal state. Decay.

Aella is a prostitute herself and she’s very interested in sex—as am I—so she tends to reduce everything to sex. In this case, “the worst thing imaginable” for a teenager is not to lose their virginity—“If I don’t lose my virginity by 15 I’ll literally die.” Her question is a variation on this statement.

It’s a theme in Hollywood films, as it happens—the idea of “the 40-year-old virgin” is somehow just beyond imagination. A fate worse than death, you might say. Indeed, in online discussions “you’re a virgin” or “nobody will ever sleep with you” constitute stock insults—because we’re a feminised society (it’s a question about how much people desire you in the end—which is narcissistic and feminine).

We’ll leave aside practical points as regards Aella’s question, such as the fact that a 13-year-old would probably be too reticent to ask for a prostitute; rather, as it happens, I actually have to say that I don’t see why not—because to request a prostitute is consistent with the ethic behind the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I’m not being tendentious. The basic idea behind Make-A-Wish is that you will die at a premature age in an unpleasant way and, as compensation, we will give you a hedonistic treat that nobody your age, possibly nobody ever, could have. You know the deal: meet astronauts, spend a day in a NASA spacecraft, spend the day with Katy Perry, spend the month at Disneyland, have a cameo in a Tom Cruise film (he’s so nice in person)—and so on.

The idea is that life is basically about how many hedonistic experiences you can “pack in” to it—the more, the better (utilitarianism—which is allied to Aella’s “rationalism”). So, given that life’s purpose, per Make-A-Wish, is “maximise hedonistic experiences” why not let the kid drink whiskey, smoke cannabis, and, yes, rent Aella for the evening (remember, she’s as much imagining what it would be like for a 13-year-old kid with terminal cancer to dial her up for the evening as anything else here)?

If that’s what life’s about, “treats”, then why not? The principle is already established “we suspend the normal rules for children and adolescents with terminal illnesses”—so people who, in their ordinary lives, would never have spent the day in a SpaceX capsule or with Tom Cruise get to do that.

There’s a pathos to Make-A-Wish, though—there’s something undignified and inadequate about the whole thing, isn’t there? It’s because “treats” don’t really compensate for the fact you’re about to die in a premature and unpleasant way. Then again, perhaps life isn’t about “treats” after all…



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