Fortune Kooky


While fortune cookies are explicitly analogous with Chinese cuisine, many Westerners would be surprised to find that most Chinese have never eaten a fortune cookie; the ones that have, just like us, probably wish they hadn’t. However, the Chinese would find the Japanese origin of the mostly-unsweetened-cookie-pocket to be even more scandalous than its lack of flavor. Though the facts surrounding the introduction of the confection into Western society are uncertain (it is suspected that Japanese entrepreneurs unfortunately took advantage of a niche market for stale baked goods), its popularity is not. The fortune cookie has been a mainstay in Americanized Chinese food culture since sometime in the 20th century, and its entertained and sometimes superstitious fan base isn’t wont to let it die out soon.

The paper-cut-happy slips of destiny inside these crunchy cardboard compartments are largely (read: entirely) responsible for the fortune cookies’ longevity. Whether or not you’ve bought into their ability to divine the future, wallpaper your dorm walls with morsels of wisdoms detailing the proper way to say ‘I ate too much’ in Chinese, or simply enjoy adding ‘in bed’ to the ends of the fortunes, you’re probably one of many Americans who find an increment of joy in reading ambiguously universal predictions.

In the time I have before class, I’ve compiled a list of fortunes that I think one might read were the cookie to be produced here:

1. “Step out in traffic without checking both ways ten times, never step anywhere again.”

2. “He that can’t endure the bad will not live to see the good, so stop whining and finish the cookie.”

3. “A black cat will cross your path and meow adorably. Do not touch it, it has rabies.”

4. ” You will soon be forced to make a choice between having a closed umbrella which is a useless umbrella, or an open umbrella which is a soon-to-be-demolished-by-the-wind umbrella.”

5. “Copyright laws, like menu descriptions, leave room for interpretation.”

6. “You will make a new friend on the bus whether you like it or not, with invasion of personal space as grounds for friendship.”

7. “Courtesy is contagious. Wear a mask.”

8. “Save face, wear someone else’s.”

9. “You have a deep interest in all that is artistic. Good luck getting into college.”

10. “An admirer is concealing his affection for you. Call the police if he changes his tactics.”

11. “Confucius say, stop quoting me unless you’re studying.”

12. “If you love your bicycle, leave it unlocked; if it loves you, someone will return it eventually.”

13. “Learn English: Economic Decline 经济衰退”

14. “Lucky Numbers: 8, 8, 8, 8, and 8.”

(of interest:

6 and 8 are both lucky, and 6+8 is 14, so I should stop here. But 1+4 is 5 and that’s bad. Guess I’ll just have to risk it.


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