Oct 22, 2018

"Look, mom - no hands!"

I had this dream recently where I cut off someone's hand and kept it. I hadn't cut off his hand to be malicious, but I also didn't really like him. Who was he, you ask? I have no idea, didn’t recognize him. He was your standard unkempt 20-something.
 I knocked on his door to give him something and he didn't even bother opening the door all the way, he just opened it a crack and stuck his hand out, so I really quickly cut it off with an eight-inch blade that conveniently appeared in my right hand. And then I ran away with his hand, laughing.
And then some older man I was kind of friends with (I guess?) was trying to gently warn me, saying, “Parisa, no one’s gonna like that you did that.” And I was like, “Nah, don’t worry, it’s nbd.” And he was like, “What?” and I said, “Don’t worry, it’s gonna be no big deal.”
Then at some unidentified public space, random people came up to me, acting like coy high school girls, and were like, "Did you really cut off so-and-so's hand? Did you seriously do that?" and I was like  "Yeah, wanna see the hand? It's right here, wanna see?" and they were like "Um, why did you do that?" and I was like "Various, completely valid reasons, don't worry, it’s gonna benefit all of us. In the long run. Ultimately." And they were like, "Oh, ok then." And I was like, “Yeah, I did it for all of us.” And they were like, “Oh, thanks then,” and went away.
Then there was this other guy, who I kind of felt was in some position of authority above me, who was trying to initiate a conversation about the hand without actually saying anything. He kept sayings things like, "Well you know, obviously it wasn't good, cutting off his hand, but it's over and done now, and it's not gonna happen again, we know that. You're not in trouble or anything, but you know, obviously it's not gonna happen again." And I was like, "It's not gonna happen again?" to myself, thinking, what does that mean? Does that mean it can't happen again? Does that mean that people aren't gonna let it happen again? Who? Who's not gonna let it happen again?
‘Cause right away, it occurred to me that he’d had two hands, so technically it could happen at least one more time.  
So then I found myself back in front of the guy's door again, and I knocked and was like "It's me!" and the guy was like, "You cut off my hand last time!" and I was like, "Yeah, but I forgot to give you the thing I meant to!" and he was like "Oh, alright," through the door and then he opened it a bit and stuck his remaining hand out, which I promptly sliced off at the wrist and ran away with. No one stopped me.
I don't know why but I felt fully justified cutting off the first one and then was like, “This time for fun!” cutting off the second one. More than that, I felt like it was a no-brainer, nobody would care and it's not like I would get in trouble for it.
When people learned that I had made off with his second hand, all his support sort of melted away in a "fool him twice, shame on him" way, and people stopped being concerned about him missing one hand when he was missing two. It went from being, “This man is missing a hand!” to “This man has no hands and only the people closest to him care, nbd.”  And I still had both his hands, not in plastic bags, but with these strange metal caps on the stumps where I had cut them from his arms. I had cut them at different points so one had slightly more wrist than the other. And this time when the man of authority came to talk to me, he was like, "Yeahhh, so maybe don't go back to his door again, ok? It's not, it's not good." And I was like, "But why? it's not like I'm gonna cut off his hand again.... I got them both, HAHAHA." And he grudgingly gave me a few chuckles but then tried to be serious and was like, "It makes people uncomfortable, so just give him some space." And I was like, "What if I need to give him his hands back?" And the man was like, "No, don't do that." And I was like, "Why? Why would I have kept these hands and carried them around if not to give back to him at some point?" And he was like, "Nah, I don't think he needs them anymore." And I was like, "What? The guy has no hands. How can he not need his hands back?" And he was like, "Honestly, there's been talk of him getting replacements.You know, upgrades." And I was like, "How can you upgrade from the appendage you were born with? Doesn't he care about having his hands back?" And the man was like, "I don't know, he seems to be doing pretty well."
"How do you know he's doing well? How do you know he doesn't want his hands back?" I asked.
And he was like, "Well, I talked with him a little and he seemed alright."
"Well, can I talk to him?"
"I don't think that's a good idea."
"But I gotta ask him if he wants his hands back."
"Nah, he won't want those hands back."
"Why not?"
"They're gonna attach better ones, like ones made of metal, in the future."
"How far in the future?"
"Uhhhh, not sure exactly."
"Well, wouldn't it be better to reattach his hands in the meantime?"
"Probably not, he says he never really used them for anything before anyway. So don't worry, Parisa, you can keep those hands."
"I don't want them."
"Then why'd you take them in the first place?"
"Cause I felt like he needed it, he deserved to lose a hand for no reason."
"Why'd you take the other one then?"
"Taking the first one was so easy. I didn't think he would even answer the door to me the second time, but he did!"
Then I spent some time in the dream observing from afar how the guy with no hands had all these young women around to do things for him, and he was basically fine without hands, somehow no less functional than he normally was. I had to hand it to him, he adjusted well, which I was only a little disturbed by.

On one hand, I felt fully justified in cutting off the first one, and for some reason it made cutting off the second one basically a foregone conclusion. Like, if you buy one cannoli and they give you a box for it that can fit another one, you might as well buy two cannoli. Similar to how one would say to one’s self, “I deserve this,” about indulging in a dessert, I said to myself, “He deserves this,” about losing his hand. Imagining him trying to do things with no hands made me giggle and had me sort of riding on a mental high in my dream. Even after I woke up and realized I had overslept by 50 minutes, I still felt like I was on the verge of laughing. I had to look at myself in the bathroom mirror and say, "Losing a hand is a serious thing," to sober up, but then I thought of him trying to handle the doorknob of his front door after losing the second hand and I just dissolved into hysterical giggles.
On the other hand, I was struck by how he could just not care so much about his hands and I couldn't understand not wanting his hands back when it was possible to get them back. I just couldn't understand it, and I felt like I, the person who took his hands and now had four, had a deeper understanding of what a life with no hands would mean than him, the person who, suddenly and irrationally, had no hands - and was fine without them!
And since he didn’t want his hands back, I was stuck carting around two extra hands that I didn’t need and couldn’t really use for anything. And they were kind of heavy.
Why did my dream-self cut off his hands, you ask? No idea, if I had to pick something, it was probably the way he dressed. He went around with this fleece throw blanket draped over him and he always had to use one hand to keep the blanket around him, so my dream-thought process was probably like this: If he loses a hand, that blanket will fall off and he’ll have to dress differently.  He should be aware that the sight of him constantly readjusting that blanket is both distracting and provoking. It was irresponsible of him to go around wearing a blanket like that, temptingly, almost taunting the rest of us to cut off his hand just to teach him a lesson. He had it coming.

May 27, 2018

Fortune Cookies: A Controversial Subject

I understand fortune cookies are a very controversial subject.
Not because of the monopoly certain companies have on making them, or because the term has been used as a racial slur and in derogatory hate-speech.
But because, I recently discovered, some people harbor, and kind of nurse unnecessarily, a mix of what I perceive as personal offence, feelings of inadequacy and, to spice it up like paprika, an odd sense of victimization that seems to be sprinkled across this minuscule yet ornery population, regarding small pieces of not always grammatically correct statements they feel are trying to boss them around and tell them how to live their lives. Because they know, ok? They know the fortune cookie is telling that they’re doing it wrong.
And god forbid, you hint that they may be projecting the feeling that they're doing it wrong onto a tiny slip of paper because, somewhere in their mind, they are actually aware of how wrong they’re doing it.

In a Chinese restaurant, mildly recently, someone said to me, acerbically and with a quietly vicious eyeroll, that there was no way in hell (paraphrasing) that they were even going to touch the plastic wrapper of their fortune cookie. So yeah, I could have it.
“Those fuckin’ fortune cookies are just tryin’ to screw you over.”
“... Cuz the sugar?” That seemed to be the most obvious reason to me. 
My friend looked at me in a serious yet dramatic way. “Nah, cuz, say you just made some big decision. Then comes this fortune cookie being all, ‘oooohh, heard you made some decision, bitch, well it was wrong and yah gonna fuckin’ regret for the rest of yah short miserable life.’ Then yer screwed. It’s like, suddenly, yer in a motherfuckin’ catch-22. There’s no right. But there is definitely a wrong, and that is fucking everything. And, you know what, that is fucked up. And I ain’t about to be inviting that kind of negativity inna my life. Like I been sayin', I’m on a negativity purge.”
“But you’re not talkin’ ‘bout negativity, you’re just talkin’ about doubt—”
“Doubt is negativity,” She said, with absolute certainty.
...Well, I wasn’t gonna touch that one.
“Where the hell you been gettin' your fortune cookies anyway, Hot Topic?”
“Bitch, I ain’t shopped at Hot Topic since…”
“Last week?”
“—Middle school.”
“Ha! No way that’s true. I don’t believe you.”
“Fine, last year.”
“Last year? Like, the last year of four months ago?”
“Whatever, I don’t buy fortune cookies there anyway.”
“….So does this negativity purge include not speaking about things, like fortune cookies, negatively?”
“Nah, that part’s bullshit.”
“Uh, really? Cuz that strikes me as, like, the most important part.”
“That whole avoiding speaking negatively about anything shit is impossible. No one does that. It’s like the breathing part of yoga.”
That struck me as wrong, too. “... Are you sure?”
“A negativity purge isn’t about not speaking negatively, it’s about stopping negative things from entering your life.”
“Woman, you need this fortune cookie more than I do. Cuz, I think you’re doing it wrong.”
“Excuse me?!”
“Speaking negatively all the time is, like, the number one, actually scientifically proven way of increasing how negative you feel. Cuz you’re expressing and hearing yourself at the same time, you're experiencing it twice. If you’re expressing something negative, then you’re also taking it in only, like, multiplied. It’s like a vicious cycle. You’re just feeding your own negative thoughts.”
She seemed to think this over.
“…You’re not cute, you know.”
“Watch yourself! Negative statement. And I don’t need to be cute. I’m the most fucking gorgeous woman here!” I hadn’t brushed my hair in three days and I hadn’t washed it in nine. 
“Oh my gawd, Parisa. Shut up! Don’t yell! And you’ve got shit in your teeth.”
“I don’t care, I want it there. You’ve had shit in your teeth this whole time, I wanted us to be twins.”
“Ughhhh, why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“I didn’t want you to take it…negatively.” 
She just sighed and shook her head, trying to pick out some broccoli from between a canine and an incisor in the reflection of her smartphone screen. 

Surprisingly, I have run into quite a few strangely antagonistic people since then who feel personally victimized by fortune cookies. Which makes me wonder – how do they go about reading a fortune cookie? It’s not like picking the petals off a daisy or asking a special 8-ball a question. You can’t go into it with expectations. I love fortune cookies. Partly because I love the crunchy sugary waffle-cone like sensation of eating one that has remained sealed in an airtight plastic bag for an indeterminant amount of time. And also, partly because they’ve basically always told me that I’m doing it right. Their predictions are spot on, as well as timeless, meaning that there is no time limit. I save fortune cookie fortunes religiously. Seriously, I might actually have hundreds.
One of my favorites: 
They have also sometimes given me excellent advice.
This morning, I was wondering whether I should pay another $140 to go to the last day of Boston Calling, a music festival. I had gone to the first day and made some friends who were going to be there, as well as Eminem, and I was trying to think if it would be worth it. With my breakfast of left-over Chinese food from last night, I opened a fortune cookie and got: 
That stuck with me. So I decided save money and clean my room instead. The young man I was thinking about going home with will have to find someone else.

I’ve had some fortune cookies that gave me advice I probably wouldn’t have absorbed if it had come from a parent or someone in an authority position. Or any person I interacted with.


(Tiger was such a beautiful cat.)
Some fortunes can be a little sappy, like: 
I would not call this a negative sentiment, however.

I have a bunch saved up that are essentially telling me I made the correct choices from an early age. Like that one above, "You have the uncommon gift of common sense."  And:

(It’s not that flattering, guys. If you’ve worked in customer service, you know why many people are drawn to you for your wisdom and insights. Into the commercial enterprise you work for.)

Yes, that's pre-braces me, back when my mom did my eyebrows.
 Sometimes, when I come across a fortune cookie that is particularly poignant at that point in my life, I’ll carry it around with me for a while.

Searching through the detritus and mementos of my room, I found one fortune-cookie fortune that I think is probably the best fortune for all those people who go into their fortune cookies ready to be offended.