Monday, January 25, 2016

On fortune cookies

One of the most wonderful things ever invented is the fortune cookie.  Ever.   I mean, yeah, of course items like computers and cell phones and life-saving/life-improving medical devices and coffee makers and televisions and Zojirushi thermoses and Nutella are ahead of the fortune cookie. But the fortune cookie is definitely up there.

One finishes his or her meal and then is presented with a tiny package to open.  And this package is given (basically) each time one orders from or goes to a Chinese restaurant!  We should be going to Chinese restaurants ALL the time!  And this package has two(!!) components to it - a sweet crispy cookie to end the meal on a sweet note.  And literally a note, supposedly fated to end up in your very own hands! How is this not one of life's most exciting experiences?

These notes generally are of two types - the descriptive and the prescriptive/predictive.  I take the "fortune" in "fortune cookies" quite literally and harbor extreme disdain for the descriptive kind.  The kind that says "you are nice to everyone" or "you have made a decision."  We, as recipients of the fortune cookie, already know ourselves and we don't need a cookie to tell us what we already know. We want the cookie to tell us something that we DON'T know!  The most apt description presented in a cookie will always be quite inferior to a prescriptive/predictive kind.

The prescriptive/predictive kind uses phrases like "you should" or "you will."  Even when an alarming sort of fortune is predicted, these are still vastly superior to the descriptive kind.  For example, my most recent cookie said that I will be going to many parties.  Most people would probably not mind this fortune.  However, I, as an introvert, found this to be an ominous, anxiety-inducing nightmare situation to think about - I truly hope that my future does NOT involve me needing to go to parties!  I think those parties would be much, much better off without my awkward weirdness, out-of-date cultural references, and misanthropic tendencies mucking up the atmosphere. And yet, receiving this was more preferable than a description!  Because at least it was an actual fortune.

I submit to you two propositions - 1) all the notes in fortune cookies should be actual fortunes.  This is the harder of the two propositions because it is the part we don't control.  and 2) lets all eat more often from places that give us fortune cookies.  This is much more doable.  Life should have ever-more fortune cookies involved.

Hopefully we do not get the worst of all the fortune cookies - the ones that come with no fortune at all.

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