Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Fortunes of a Chinese-Take-Out Customer

You don’t believe in the fortunes you get in Chinese fortune cookies, do you?
Right. Because I didn’t either, until the day I got …
“Avoid compulsively making things worse.”
 The next time, it was “He who laughs last is laughing at you.”
Then, it was “Do not spend money you don’t have.” (Maybe on Chinese take-out.)
Then (we DO eat a lot of take-out), “Don’t ask, don’t say. Everything lies in silence” and “From listening comes wisdom and from speaking repentance.” In other words, shut up.

My fortunes
Then there was a series of admonitions not to be lazy: “Make your life a mission, not an intermission,” “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” and, my personal favorite, “Attend to Business today. Leave that side-street flower alone.”
It was beginning to get to me.
Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad, but at the same time I was opening these, my daughter was getting “Fame, riches and romance are yours for the asking” and “Many new friends will be attracted to your friendly and charming ways.”
Even after I waited till everyone grabbed their fortune cookie from the pile, then insisted on switching with my daughter, she got “A cheerful message is on its way to you” and I got “Everyone needs to be loved, especially those who do not deserve it.”
Perhaps it is as yet another of my fortunes said: “A pessimist is a frustrated optimist.” 

My daughter's fortunes.
Did you know that Chinese fortune cookies aren’t Chinese? They were invented in San Francisco by a Japanese immigrant named Makoto Hagiwara. In China, where they are manufactured but not really eaten, they are called American fortune cookies.


  1. It may be that the fortunes are randomly created, but there is clearly a decisive and well-informed, perhaps even deific, hand at work which is guiding them carefully to the intended recipient. That, or the cosmic addresses are being crossed. Perhaps you could try tapping your daughter on the shoulder and switching the revealed fortunes when her back is turned. It will require expert timing, but a fortune cookie once told me "Practice makes perfect."

    Incidentally, maybe you could spin the truths of these fortunes into sub-blog posts-- I'd love to hear the one that verified "Avoid compulsively making things worse."


  2. What should be done about this one? "HELP!!!!, I'm held prisoner in a cookie factory!"