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.

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