I have been eating Chinese food…for as long as I can remember. There was a Chinese food restaurant in Keene New Hampshire; King’s Garden, I think, was the name. My dad always got such a kick out of telling me we had ordered the Pu-pu platter.
Anyway, one of the things I always enjoyed about the Chinese food experience was the fortune cookie. I always would ask ‘how the fortune cookie people knew me so well!’ The fortunes always had some small nugget of wisdom which I could always twist to find some meaning from that directly related back to my life. Still, it was fun.
I have been going to Sammy’s Noodle Shop in Manhattan for fifteen or sixteen years. Sometime in the mid-1990’s was when I discovered their tasty lo mien, their wonderful general tso’s, and their very tasty beef with broccoli.
Another great thing about Sammy’s is their lunch specials. You get this huge plate of selected items for seven or eight dollars. They added a soup with the lunch special and their hot-and-sour soup is nasal-clearing to say the least.
Still, it’s a Chinese food meal. You have to stick to your traditions. One of these is the fortune cookie. Okay so my wife and I, when we go to Sammy’s, we crack the cookies and read the fortunes, then inevitably roll our eyes at the absurdity of the message, and get up and leave (or I leave and my wife follows me out the door after getting our individually wrapped tooth picks). It’s predictable but it’s ours.
So today when we went into Sammy’s it was with the hope of getting the intent of dining on their lunch specials. My wife had work late into the evening but she didn’t have to be there until the afternoon which was a refreshing change from her early mornings of late. We got the bill, got our fortune cookies and cracked them open. I was startled when my cookie fell open as there was no fortune inside! How strange! This had never happened!
My wife across the table gasped at me. The same thing had happened to her!
“Oh my!” said my wife, “doesn’t this mean we’re going to die?” I sort of rolled my eyes at this statement because, yes, of course, we’re all going to die (me and my wife before others if we keep eating these Sammy’s Noodle Shop lunch specials) but at the time, I was worked up.
I approached one of our longtime friends there, Jenny, and I relayed the information to her. “What does this mean!” I exclaimed. “Are we going to die?”
“Oh no! No fortune means good luck!”
At the end of the day I guess she could have said whatever she wanted to say since fortune cookies are an embarrassingly American incarnation. What I’m guessing happened is that this whole box of fortune cookies has no fortunes in the cookies.
So if you eat at Sammy’s in the next couple of days, don’t worry about it. You’re not going to die. (Or, you are going to die, but not from lack of fortune.)