It’s a ritual common for many of us, the Fortune Cookie after Chinese dinner out. I do wonder hwoever, where is the fortune, and what is the cookie anyway. It doesn’t look like any cookie I might make or eat. Highly stylized, with a hard crackable exterior, it looks more like a shell on the beach or a gravitationless spacecraft.
And inside, well that little slip of paper, on one side dotted with numbers incomprehensible to me, but likely encouraging to others. And on the other side, a little saying, hardly a fortunate prediction in true horoscopic fashion, but a sweet little saying:
“You will enjoy the respect of others” or “something inside you needs to come out now” or some such thing.
My point is who writes these things. In some Chinatown back room is there a sum of dim authors churning out messages by the hundreds daily? Or has AI conquered another traditional bastion in generating thoughts (but not prayers) based on demographics, reader trends, advertising targets or political desperation. (Here is a new tool for the Jasonesque Premier of Alberta.)
These post-dessert pre-bill-reckoning amusements are as anticipated as steamy Egg Foo Young or Sweet and Sour Pork. Now sometimes, like the meal itself, they do satisfy, even delight. They are an amusement for us (though I really do want to know more about the numbers on the other side of the slip). I want some sort of advantage over the frustrations or impatient yearnings of life.
Please tell me “My house will rise in value exponentially” which has been the case throughout Canada recently. That worked well. Tell me that “My children will be a blessing to their parents” which they are, but often in surprising and unpredictable ways. The cookie had no part in that. Tell me that “The bearer of this slip can return in seven days for a free meal.” Well that’ll never happen.
Three cheers for the Fortune Cookie and for those who dream up these predictable non-predictions and for those who deliver them. More cheers for the ubiquitous Chinese Food restaurants which pepper the landscape and salt our daily lives. The most cheers imaginable are for the delights of dining Dim Sum or in other ways, with family, friends or even alone.
Let us not forget however the unsung heroes who write their way into our hearts and lives, through food, fun and felicity. Going out for Chinese tonight, I remain your humble scribe, Famished and Fortunate Ken.