You’ve been to a Chinese restaurant, I would imagine. So you know that after you finish your General Tso’s chicken, or whatever you might have, they generally bring you little clear plastic packets with strangely folded, pale brown objects inside, sometimes served with orange slices. Thus appears the fortune cookie.
Whenever I’ve ripped open the plastic packet and cracked my cookie in half, to read what is written on that tiny slip of paper, I’ve never liked the uninteresting fortune. They say things like “Plan for many pleasures ahead” or “The time is right to make new friends” or “Your ability to juggle many tasks will take you far”.
What the hell? Those are fortunes? Those little slips of paper should have all said, “You will open cookie of very great banality.”
No sir, if I were the fortune cookie writer, we’d get some literary interest in there. Now I understand there’s only so much you can say. There’s not a lot of space, so the fortunes are kind of the pastry equivalent of Twitter messages. That just means the limited space available needs to be devoted to imagination.
I don’t think every fortune has to come with an implied smiley face. Has anyone ever used the phrase “feel good” about Tennessee Williams’ plays? And yet they’re highly regarded, even though they plumb the darkness of our existence. Can’t a fortune cookie do the same? So here are some suggestions for improved fortune cookie messages and why I think they would be good.
You will live briefly under a bridge.
At first glance this sounds negative, but note that very optimistic adverb—briefly. It’s not like you’re going to spend the rest of your life down there.
If you are having trouble dating, maybe you are thinking of the wrong gender.
Here is an inducement to self-examination, and in these more enlightened days of the twenty-first century, this happy fortune says “Look how broad your options are! Twice as many!”
Many people are more ugly than you.
Imagine how this statement will raise the self esteem of someone who has just finished their fried rice and is feeling insecure. Then the cookie arrives, and suddenly, they feel better about themselves.
As an adult, you can be glad you didn’t waste time learning math.
This happy fortune makes the diner feel good about the time they spent in high school not paying attention in class.
I might also add a few fortunes invoking whimsy, because Whimsical would be my middle name if my parents had named me that.
You will get very drunk and shave off all your body hair.
The person reading this might take it as a prediction, as something to look forward to, perhaps, or they might take it as a warning of something to avoid. It is their choice.
Your elephant will become flatulent tomorrow.
This could be a very useful fortune, telling you what to do—put the elephant outside—and telling you when you need to do that, tomorrow.
Your intestinal flora rejoice at your good fortune.
I’m pretty sure that must be true. I mean, why wouldn’t they?
You see how much better fortune cookies could be? It just takes a willingness to go beyond the norm, and I frequently go beyond the norm. You will eat happy delight cookie, then search for car in parking lot.