Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cookie-eater! Know thyself!

I was having dinner at a noodle shop recently when I received the most lackluster fortune I’ve ever received in a fortune cookie. I seem to recall mentioning before about how fortune-cookie writers seem to have lost their enthusiasm for their work, but can’t find that post because apparently I haven’t gotten that far back in my “tagging” of old posts yet.

Anyway, the fortune was “You tend to spark the flame of enthusiasm in people”. Not “You *do* spark…”, mind, but “You *tend* to…”. As if to say “You know, your every intention is to inspire greatness, but for the most part this tendency is overwhelmed by the miasma of dullness that is the rest of your life. The pile after pile of insignificant distractions that fascinate you with their intricate details until the next thing you know it’s 5:00 and time to go home.” And honestly, I wasn’t quite sure whether to be offended or to sit there, dazzled by the possibility of the profound truth that a baked good knows me better than I know myself.

There’s a great poem about fortune cookies, written by a man named Ron Padgett. I’ve never heard of him until I saw this poem* but writing this reminded me of it. Frankly, I would love it if I were to get a fortune like that in my fortune cookie. Partly because yes, that would me a much more interesting fortune to get than the insipid statements we get today**, but also admittedly because it would be so huge that they’d have to start making giant fortune cookies to hold them. And anything that results in bigger cookies is a good thing in my opinion.


The Fortune Cookie Man
Working for ten years now at the fortune cookie factory
and I'm still not allowed to write
any of the fortunes. I couldn't do any worse than
they do, what with their You Will Find
Success in the Entertainment Field mentality. I
would like to tell someone that they will
find a gorilla in their closet, brooding darkly
over the shoes. And that that gorilla will
roll his glassy, animal eyes as if to cry out to the
heavens that are burning in bright
orange and red and through which violent clouds
are rolling, and open his beast's mouth
and issue a whimper that will fall on the shoes like
a buffing rag hot with friction. But
they say no. So if you don't find success in the
entertainment field, don't blame me.
I just work here.


* Yay Writer’s Almanac!
** Which oftentimes aren’t even fortunes to begin with but rather dull platitudes of common sense like “Love your mother” and “Don’t start yourself on fire”

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