Inside the Fortune Cookie
A bunch of us were out at our favorite bourbon bar tonight -- although none of us were drinking bourbon. Several orders of Chinese food crowded the big table we'd commandeered in the back of the bar. Everybody was getting full, and the meal was down to the fortune cookies.
Smooth Jazz opened his cookie and ..... nothing. Not even a blank slip of paper. Nothing. He crushed his cookie in his hand and dumped the crumbs into a paper bag in frustration. What a disappointment! You get to the end of the meal, and there's not a fucking fortune to set you off into the future? Fortune cookies are about the fortune, right? The future. What the fuck are you supposed to do with no fortune?
Several other people broke open their cookies. Alex's new girlfriend read hers first.
No shit, that's the exact piece of paper that was inside her cookie. "Some fortune cookies contain no fortune."
It's true. I've been thinking a lot about relationships lately -- loss and the acceptance of loss, inevitability versus the effort to maintain, love versus convenience -- for various reasons, both because of events in my own life and because of stories others have told me. The empty cookie and this fortune seemed especially poignant, especially relevant.
Some fortune cookies contain no fortune. No matter how much we want to find a happy, optimistic slip of silver-lined, hope-filled destiny inside, there really is nothing there.
And all our expectations, even our fervent beliefs, can't change the fact that nothing is inside that cookie. Or that nothing ever was. Our faith that something was in there doesn't change a thing if nothing is there.
Sometimes we'll eat the cookie and be happy enough for a dry bit of hard, sweet biscuit. It's better than nothing. Other times we say "fuck it," crumble the cookie and toss it in the trash. The cookie without the fortune just isn't enough. Sometimes a cookie needs to try a whole lot harder than that.
These days, I'm with Smooth Jazz: If there's no fortune in the cookie, I don't want the fucking cookie. From now on, I only eat the cookie with the fortune in it. I've cracked open enough empty cookies and ignored their deficiencies; I'm looking for the fortunate one.
Or maybe I just need to write my own fortune and forget those dry, tasteless cookies.
If you could write your own fortune cookie, what would you write? I know what I'd write, but I'm a little afraid to put it out there tonight. Vulnerability and all that. Tell me yours and I'll tell you mine.