I put little stock in horoscopes and palm reading, but cookie fortunes are another matter altogether. These are indubitably the real deal. For example, when a cookie once told me that I’d soon be receiving a call from a special friend, lo and behold, not 12 days later did the representative from the local newspaper call asking if I wanted to receive the Sunday edition! On another occasion, my fortune declared, “Success will follow your patience”; the following year, I was given a raise. I especially treasure those fortunes that help you learn Chinese with translated words on the reverse side of the sage advice. With the help of these crispy, wisdom-laden cookies, I’m mastering piecemeal the Chinese tongue. For example, “湿鸟不在晚上飞行。” (Translation: “Wet birds don’t fly at night.”)
After a sumptuous helping of General Tso’s chicken, the friendly southern Chinese waiter brought us our fortune cookies. I was perplexed when I read mine:
“Here we go. Moo shoo cereal with duck sauce for breakfast.”
My wife then read hers aloud:
“Here we go. Whole grain low fat green tea.”
Clearly, these fortunes were some sort of mistake. I imagined some multitasking wise Chinese philosopher simultaneously spouting off two lists to his scribe: one of novel menu items, the other inspired fortunes. I can hear the old man thinking of new menu items off the top of his head, uttering, “Here we go” before each new culinary idea. The sure-to-be-fired scrivener must surely have gotten his lists confused, scribbling verbatim the “Here we go”-prefaced food items on fortune slips.
Somewhere, I am sure, there exists a menu with my wife’s and my fortunes in place of Chinese breakfast foods and healthy beverages. My misplaced fortune, perhaps, “Better things are yet to come”, will be printed in the left hand column (where the food items are normally found, below Mongolian beef and above chicken and broccoli), followed by the “$12.00” price tag. In the drink section, after hot tea, sweet tea, and raspberry tea, will be printed the fortune rightfully belonging to my wife, now costing $2.00: “Trust your instincts. They will take you far.”
Until I can be sure, though, that this was in fact a simple mix-up, I carry the fortune with me in my pocket, vigilantly searching for how and where I can apply “moo shoo cereal with duck sauce for breakfast” to my life. Until then, I will continue to practice my Chinese.