Fortune Follies

“Happiness is a Chinese meal; sorrow is a nourishment forever.” ~Carolyn Kizer

Chinese food. It is a favorite in this family. Both of my boys would rather dine on chicken and broccoli or egg drop soup than chicken nuggets or a hamburger. Me? Well, I am all for any type of cuisine considered ethnic: Indian, Ethiopian, Thai, Chinese, Mexican … food that has flavor. American food (with the exception of biscuits and gravy) bores me. Since Arkadelphia is sadly lacking in dining options, Chinese is the cuisine of choice when I give my little people the choice of eating in or going out. I do not mind. Although, I have yet to wrap my brain around the concept of the fortune cookie. What bored individual came to the conclusion that Americans need nasty, tasteless, pre-packaged cookie-type objects at the end of the meal? And yet – I still read mine. Who doesn’t? My children, in particular, love them. They eat the things too {{shudder}} and more often then not something interesting happens at the table because of the silly little things (the cookies ….. and my children).

It could possibly be some sort of curse to give birth to brilliant, funny, and quick-witted kids. Someday, somehow, I have got to learn to stop underestimating them. Seriously.

Take, for instance, my oldest child (Big K) and what I have come to call his ‘Fortune Follies’ because of the laughter and giggles that inevitably follow the opening of a fortune cookie.

Follie #1
We had just finished a decent meal and here came the check and, of course, the cookies. Little K (age 7) read his now forgettable fortune along with the ‘learn Chinese’ vocabulary and lucky numbers on the back. I gave up trying to stop my kids from reading everything on that tiny strip of paper a long time ago. Big K (age 12) also read his fortune and the lucky numbers and yadda, yadda, yadda. Then, inevitably, it was my turn and I was staring at two eager faces waiting …. waiting. I read my fortune aloud not anticipating what would happen next.

Me (in my most awe inspiring fortune cookie reading voice): “Winds of change are sure to blow your direction.”
Sarcastic 12-year old: *snort* “Is that fortune for you, mom, or Mary Poppins?”
My brain quietly to itself: “Did he just say that?”
Me: “NICE ONE!!!” (High fives across the table)
Clueless 7-year old: “Huh?”
Me and older child together: “Nevermind!”

Follie #2
Meal finished, check comes with cookies … blah, blah, blah. I read my fortune first this time simply because I am finished eating. Yes, I am raising boys and they can put away some serious food in their skinny little bodies. The 7-year old finishes and reads yet another forgettable fortune. Suddenly, the most amazing thing occurs.

Oldest child: He sits holding his fortune cookie in two hands staring down at it when all of a sudden he emits an enthusiastic and convincing karate-type “hiiiiiiii-yaaaaaa” and proceeds to crack (break open) his fortune cookie on his forehead as though he has just broken through five cinder blocks.

[At this point several things happen simultaneously.]

Restaurant Patrons: Yeah – pretty much every head turns to stare at our table because the oldest was anything but quiet and the reactions of both his little brother and I were not exactly low-key either.
Youngest Child: Immediately turns into a wet noodle and slithers out of the booth and onto the floor in total fits of raucous laughter.
Me: You know when several things happen in your mind all at once and in a split-second? The responsible parent I know is trapped in this body somewhere wanted to shush both children and try to salvage some shred of dining decorum but I, too, was racked with uncontrollable laughter. Completely uncontrollable … punctuated by the fact that the instigator (Oldest Child) sat there for a moment with a look on his face that mumbled, “What? What did I do?” before he allowed himself to laugh with us. Comic timing. The kid is a natural.

Utter brilliance, I tell you. Brilliance!

I truly wish these tales translated on paper in as humorous a manner as they originally occurred. I am thinking about taking them (my children) on the road … a tour of Chinese dining establishments so we can bring ‘Fortune Follies’ to the masses.

“We're comic. We're all comics. We live in a comic time. And the worse it gets the more comic we are.” ~William Gaddis


  1. Hate Chinese but I love the cookies.

  2. We have loads of fun with those fortunes too!

  3. O Beth, you did capture it, the whole thing. Just as well because when you take them on tour as a cabaret round Chinese restaurants, like performing monkeys chained to the organ-grinder, I doubt it would happen again. They would think they were funny. Whereas the funny thing was they didn't think that the first time.

    Still who knows what will happen. Spontaneity is unpredictable.

    I liked the wet noodle, and the karate chop. More!

  4. Yes, yes ... the key is to not inform the little people that they are on display in order to insure utter randomness. :o)

  5. What wonderful stories you tell...I love visiting!

  6. Finally found my way here from your nice comments over at my place...

    Nice blog you got going here!

  7. you said to leave an indicator that i was here. so here it is. now i go and read

  8. I collect chinese fortunes..and sometimes I actually eat the cookie.
    I Love love love Chinese food!! had it yesturday..but guess what they forgot to put in my bag..
    My fortune cookie.


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


Blog Widget by LinkWithin