The Fortune Cookie

By: Randy Heinitz

When my daughter was home for her last school break, she had a yen for steamed dumplings, so off we went to her favorite Chinese Restaurant.  After a nice meal, the waiter brought us our complimentary fortune cookies.  My husband opened his and read his fortune aloud first.  According to the cookie, he was headed for a promotion, a new romance and a long life filled with happiness.  I was a little perturbed.  He gets a promotion, and some new chickie gets to cash in on the loot from that promotion. I guarantee if that happens, he will not be enjoying a long, happy life.

I put aside my consternation for a moment to hear my daughter’s fortune.  The cookie said that she will be finding joy wherever she goes, and her personality will give her the courage to take risks that will pay off in her life.  I liked this fortune.  All mothers want to hear about their kids’ bright futures.

And then I cracked open my cookie and this is what it said: “You will be invited to sing at a karaoke bar.”

That was my fortune. I swear. My family gets predictions of happiness, wealth, romance mingled with a bit of adultery, and I get a trip to a stinking karaoke bar? Of all the fortune cookies I have opened in my life — and there have been many — this was the lamest. Technically, it’s not even a fortune. It’s a comment on my social life, and it is an inaccurate comment because if the fortune cookie writer knew me, he or she would know I cannot carry a tune, and no one in their right mind would ever invite me to a karaoke bar to sing unless that bar was filled with people that the party host wanted to torture or drive insane!

Not satisfied with my cookie prognostication, I asked my waiter for a new cookie.  Luckily, he knows us so he was more than happy to give me another.  This time as I read my fortune, I had a focused audience.  My daughter, husband, our waiter, the people at the table next to ours, who could not stop laughing at the karaoke prediction, and the restaurant owner all gathered to see what wisdom my cookie would impart.

And this was the fortune inside my new cookie, and again, I am not lying: “You will have a mole removed in the next few months.”

Who the hell is writing fortune cookies these days?  Has the pool of writers for fortune cookies become so depleted that the cookie companies have had to recruit copywriters from the American Medical Association?  Perhaps my next fortune cookie will tell me the results of my pap smear.  If the cookie companies are that hard up for writers, I know several freelancers who wouldn’t mind the gig.

Call me a fortune cookie purist, but I like the old-fashioned fortunes that made me feel as if Confucius himself wrote them.  These new fortune cookies have none of the traditional appeal.  Fortune cookies are supposed to be about hope and whimsy. I know times change. I can go along with change. I didn’t get upset when the fortunes in the cookies started to have lucky lottery numbers printed on them. And I didn’t complain when the cookies started to have a Chinese “word of the day” on the fortune either. Hey, it is a global economy, and since communist China is now secretly embracing capitalism, I guess knowing Chinese is a good thing. Plus, learning the language from a cookie is a lot cheaper than buying the Rosetta Stone language series.

I admit that my family and I got a kick out of my fortunes. I laughed so hard that I literally cried, and when this happens to me, my daughter always follows suit. While we were laughing our metaphorical cookies off, I noticed  the owner of the restaurant was not quite as amused.  I guess she is a fortune cookie purist too.  She explained that she bought the cookies from a new vendor, but they had assured her that the fortunes would display dignified messages.  I tried to make her feel better, and told her that the messages, while not dignified, might prove helpful.  If you think about it, the fortune put in my head a health tip that might benefit me down the road.

She appreciated me being a good sport and told me that if I was interested, she had a karaoke machine that she could bring to the restaurant, and I could sing there if I wanted.  I thanked her for the opportunity but graciously declined.  I didn’t want to be responsible for driving her business into the ground.

Well, it has been a few months since I received the karaoke and mole fortunes. I posted them on my refrigerator for those days when I need a quick laugh.  This week, we went back to the Chinese restaurant, and at the end of the meal, we got our cookies again.  My husband’s read “To lose a dream is to lose your soul.”  That was a nice one and there were no gold-digging tramps in the picture, so I liked it.  My daughter’s said that she would embark on a new life adventure in a new place which was interesting because she might have to move for a job, and mine…well, mine said “I am uncomplicated and easily manipulated.”

Note to myself: Switch to Indian food.

photo by ohlibrary

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7 thoughts on “The Fortune Cookie”

  1. I can just see the look on your face when you opened your fortune cookie after hearing the grand predictions of your husband and daughter. Funny. And look at it this way – if you continue to have those kinds of experiences, this site will always be filled Cavanagh comedy.

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