12 April 2008
Fortune Cookie Thoughts
I wonder what people think about fortune cookies. They're purely American (I didn't see a single one during a ten day trip to China earlier this year, and that included going to more than a few Chinese restaurants), and I think most people dismiss them as a marketing gimmick. I also think there's something lurking just beneath the surface that's worth a closer look, and I'm trying to figure it out.
There were two (!) Chinese restaurants in the town where I grew up (that's a lot for the speck-on-the-map I used to call home as a kid). One was on Route 66 and the other was by the Indian Hospital. We stopped going to the latter when a controversy erupted over a boil-order, which left the one on Route 66 for my family's dining pleasure. That one was located in a former used car dealership in the shape of a barn, but I'm getting off topic here...
One time my grandmother was visiting us and I distinctly remember her laughter when my dad opened his fortune cookie and said “You are like a catfish, all mouth and no brain.” Grammy (we called my mom’s mom grammy) thought for a minute, and then let out a roar of laughter. You would have thought she had just heard the funniest joke ever told. Of course, dad had played that line on my sister and me so many times by then that it had long since lost its lustre, but it was fun to watch someone else react for the first time. It’s a simple memory, but one I’ve cherished and may have something to do with developing my interest in the topic.
Personally, I like “Help! I’m trapped inside a fortune cookie factory” but I tend to save that for special times. Like when someone’s grandmother is at the table. Often there are general maxims that could safely apply to anyone’s life, but some of these fortune cookie writers are getting more sophisticated and I’m just here to say I appreciate their work. So I’m hoping to keep a list of the ones that somehow resonated with me…just for kicks, really. That's the point of the sidebar "Fortune Cookie Garden." I don’t do it because I believe in any kind of predictive power, but for their ability to encourage you to think about what’s going on in your life. We could all use little reminders to do that from time to time, couldn’t we? You go, Fortune Cookie.