Part of the fun in eating Chinese food comes at the very end of the meal when a perfectly packaged little mystery, in the form of a fortune cookie, arrives at the table.  

The slender strip of white paper inside could say anything, often with words misspelled or out of order, predicting all sorts of the unknown for its holder.  Every once in a while, there is a message inside that speaks directly to me.  A message that makes me feel as though the wise old fortune-cookie-writing-sage conjured my face, penned a few special words of guidance, and sent the cookie out into the universe, towards my favorite Chinese restaurant. 

Last night was not one of those nights.  I was out with two of my favorite foodies and we had just finished the last morsels of curry covered vegetables, chicken and rice.  We were each leaning back in our chairs to expand our bellies and make more room to breathe.  The food coma was beginning when the attentive waitress saw her opportunity to flip our table for a new set of diners, waiting by the door.  The waitress skillfully swooped in for our empty dishes and left a dish of chilled oranges with three fortune cookies.  She carefully stacked our dishes and quietly walked off with tiny, calculated steps.

My mom grabbed the cookies and began to shuffle them, shell-game style.  There was no telling which cookie started where by the time her work was done. 

“There,” she declared with a flourish.  

“Now pick one,” she said. 

My husband thought for a minute, stared at the cookies and grabbed the one in the middle.  His strategy was unclear.

I felt there could be no way of picking a bad fortune after the randomizing shuffle.  I grabbed the cookie closest to me, knowing it was the right one for me. 

I ripped open the plastic and cracked the cookie in my hand, so as not to lose any of the tasty pieces. 

Inside was the expected slip of paper, waiting to be read.

“You will have a party.”

What? I silently fumed, feeling that I definitely picked the wrong cookie.  I don’t want to have a party- there’s way too much planning and energy involved in having a party.  Going to one, yes, but planning one, no.

“Well,” my husband read, slightly altering the words, “I am welcome in every setting.”  

“And I…” my mom started after cracking open her cookie “will start to manage my business with great skill and organization.” 

“We got this all wrong!  Let’s trade.”  I suggested.

My husband nodded at my mom, and she nodded at me, and we commenced the trade.

As of now, my husband will manage his business with great skill and organization, my mom will throw a party, and I am welcome in all settings.  

If only life could be that simple and fortunes traded at will to those who were better suited, deserving, or more desiring.   What would be worth fighting for if everyone had what they wanted, or thought that they wanted?  The problem is that life is not simple and sometimes we don’t know what we want until we don’t get it or something else comes along.  It is how we break out of what is comfortable and into what stretches and teaches us to be more than we are now.

Perhaps I was meant to get that slip of paper.  

Maybe, I should start planning a party instead of just blogging about how to get out of it. 

4 thoughts on “Swapping Fortune Cookies

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