When cooking is just impossible and the raw chicken in our freezer stares back at us, uninspiring and just plain mean, Danny and I grab some noodles at the local Pei Wei. One order, for less than a Chic-fil-A combo meal, is usually enough for dinner and leftovers for lunch. I am partial to the pad thai and Danny is, appropriately, fond of the Dan Dan noodles. At the end of the meal we partake of the customary fortune cookie.
There was a time in my life when I collected fortunes from cookies. I had grand plans to cover a small tabletop with lucky lotto numbers, Chinese pronunciations of useful phrases, and pithy but usually trite bits of sage advice in Yoda-esque sentence structures. Good day you will have tomorrow. Success is coming; patient you should be. I let friends and coworkers know about the impending project. My mom would send me fortunes tucked into the folds of letters from home, and one of my managers at Crate and Barrel would leave them in an unmarked envelope tacked to the break room bulletin board, next to the schedule, like notes from a secret admirer. Love you someone does. I realized halfway through executing the fortune cookie table plan that I had not thought it through, and the finished piece never really materialized.
After our most recent noodle binge, Danny and I lounged full and groggy on the couch, surrounded by squeezed lime wedges and spent soy sauce packages, discussing the uninspired prose contained in most fortune cookies. These fortunes — so vague and clichéd they were. We decided that the cookie experience would be much more enjoyable if the fortune cookie writers got a little meaner and a lot more specific.
“Your dog is ugly.”
“No one is impressed by your air guitar.”
“People judge you by your limp, creepy handshake.”
“Your music collection is embarrassing.”
I mean, fortune cookies are already insulting me with their strange, plastic flavor. Why not throw a real zinger in there? And every once in a while the fortune cookie writers may deliver a pure nugget of good advice to a Chinese food consumer who really needs a dose of the cold, hard truth! Just a few weeks ago when I was sitting in the theater, I was wishing that the gentleman next to me would receive a cookie telling him: “You breathe very loudly in the movies, and that is uncool.” This afternoon I encountered an angry middle-aged woman in Crocs who really could use a cookie message that read: “All of those shopping carts you leave in the grocery store parking lot are organizing and will attack you in your sleep.”
Throwing a name in there every once in a while might also be interesting. “Janice: enough with the perfume already.” “Please, Roberto, we’ve already heard your story about the chicken nugget shaped like the Virgin Mary.” It’s a long shot, but someday a cookie might find its way to an appropriate consumer. Danny once opened a Sobe juice drink to read, inside the cap, the command, “Be the lizard, Danny.”
After such a revolution in the fortune business, more cookies I would eat.