Fortune follies

By Mir
April 20, 2011

As part of birthdaypalooza, Chickadee was allowed to choose any restaurant for dinner out, on Monday. We don’t eat out all that often, and we almost never go out to eat during the week, so this was an auspicious occasion, indeed.

Her debate with herself was arguably the most entertaining part of the evening. Should we go to the Mexican place she likes? No, Otto and I had had Mexican the night before. (No amount of assuring her that if that’s what she wanted, we would happily eat it again would convince her it was a good choice.) The vegetarian restaurant? Possibly closed on Mondays, and also quite possibly not worth Monkey’s whining. (Monkey would’ve been fine there, but the IDEA of it was kind of freaking him out.) The diner? Last time what she got there wasn’t very good, so maybe not.

Too many choices! So much agony! But finally she remembered that she really enjoyed the Big Buffet Place, so we packed up and headed over there for an appropriately American stuff-your-face adventure.

Every single community has one of these restaurants, yes? It’s Asian. And Italian. And Other Stuff. All capped off with macaroni and cheese and other kid-favorites and random generic foodstuffs most people will eat. One long table houses giant slabs of carve-your-own roasted meats and another is endless trays of Chinese food, while the salad bar always looks sadly ignored and the counter of sushi looks really good until you remember that you are, after all, at a flat-rate buffet and maybe you should be careful about anything that allegedly contains raw fish.

The vegetarian options at this place are pretty sparse, so I was surprised that Chickadee picked it, but she happily loaded up her plate with tempura veggies and some spanikopita and melon wedges.

Monkey finds too many options completely overwhelming, so I ended up walking around with him and helping him pick out a few things to eat before his brain short-circuited from all of the CHOICES. Of course, he was ready to head back to the table when I pointed out that he had an entire plate of tan carbs (fried shrimp! eggroll! bread! noodles!) and “encouraged” (read: demanded) that he come with me to find some broccoli, first.

Eventually we all settled down at the table with our plates and enjoyed a rare meal where no one is eating the same thing. For whatever reason, this place gives you a fork and a set of chopsticks, so there was a bit of hilarity as Chickadee tried to figure out how to eat a particularly large wedge of sweet potato and Monkey tried to figure out how to butter his roll, all without knives. (Then Monkey went and found a knife, only it was a steak knife, which was functionally fine UNTIL Chickadee found a butter knife, which then sparked the first argument of the evening, because when your kids are older they graduate from “he’s touching me!” to “You need to tell me where you got that kind of knife because it’s more appropriate for what I’m trying to do here and I couldn’t find one.”)

Everyone ate and then ate a little more and then someone came by with our check and four fortune cookies. We were headed out for dessert, after dinner, but fortune cookies are sort of like after-dinner mints, right? And of course I couldn’t eat mine, but I had to crack it for the fortune.

Chickadee paused with her cookie on her palm. “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I cracked this and it says, ‘Today is your birthday!’?” We pointed out that in fact, that would be 1) creepy and 2) not actually a fortune. She was disappointed by our unwillingness to play along.

The cookies were cracked, and that’s when the fun began.

Look; I realize that most modern-day fortune cookies do not, strictly speaking, contain actual FORTUNES. But it irks me a little, anyway. And Monday night’s dinner was a veritable cornucopia of fortune cookie missteps.

Let’s start with Chickadee’s cookie. While it didn’t announce her birthday (oh well), it was the closest to a fortune of all the cookies we received:

Good things are coming to you in due of time.

This one gets an A for cheerful fortune-like-ness, but a C for grammar.


A good time to start something new.

I’m sorry, but that’s not a fortune, that’s just a sentence fragment. And a declaratory one, at that.

Otto also got a statement cookie:

You have a deep appreciation of the arts and music.

Well, that one’s true. But it’s not a fortune.

And finally, Monkey got this one:

You will be unusually successful in business.

“Oh!” I said to him, after he read it, “I think you got mine! Wanna trade?” He shrugged and handed over his little piece of paper. I passed him mine, assuring him that my sentence fragment was surely meant for him to take as a positive sign about middle school. But I did remind him that I expected his grammar to be better than the cookie’s.

A good time was had by all. And I’m CERTAIN that word of my impending success arriving while I was eating a $9 plate of mediocre sushi was TOTALLY TRUE.


  1. dad

    You guys are truly party animals!

  2. Aimee

    Mmmm… mediocre sushi!

    I am just glad that you ate the sushi and did not have food poisoning coming to you in due of time.

  3. Randi

    But don’t you know the rule of fortune cookies? You have to say “in bed” after the statement for all the adult ones ;)

  4. suzie

    So, what did you have for your REAL dessert?

    Sounds like a fun evening!

    We also struggle with our kids’ various eating preferences. My younger daughter is a vegetarian, and my older daughter insists on eating a full cow at every meal. The more meat, the better.

  5. JoAnne

    LOL, this reminds me of my favorite fortune from a fortune cookie…”No one is standing in your way anymore, time to moving forward.” I got this one right after being laid off from a horrible job and before getting a great one. I still have it hanging in our kitchen and it makes me chuckle each time I look at it.

  6. Damsel

    We got one one time that said, “Fortune not found. Abort, retry, fail?” NO LIE!! Funniest thing, EVER. It sparked a debate about whether or not the owner was going to DIE that day.

    I kept it because I’m certain no one will believe me.

  7. Jennifer

    My last fortune told me to eat more fruits and vegetables. I was annoyed!

  8. Meg

    I got a fortune one time that said “The luck of the Irish is with you.” Although I am Irish, somehow it didn’t feel very authentic.

  9. Tracy B

    Just alittle “adult” humor you couldn’t really allow your children to play along but it’s fun nonetheless…all fortune cookies should end with the bed. Now, go back and reread your cookies. Makes sense now, huh? :)

  10. Rachel

    I recently got two from the same meal that almost had me cowering in a corner about my future:
    1) Your problem just got bigger. Think, what have you done.
    and it was followed shortly by
    2) In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.

  11. Stimey

    We’ve never been to the all-kinds-of-food-buffet, but I am intrigued by the many choices of tan carbs, because I think Jack would be very happy there.

  12. MainlineMom aka Sarah

    Awesome. PF Chang’s/Pei Wei definitely has the best fortune cookies, both in taste (VERY almondy) and in actual fortune. Most assuredly because it is the most upscale, Americanized version of Asian food I have found.

  13. Megan

    Dude. After eating buffet sushi yours should totally have read: ‘you have courage! and a reckless disregard for gastrointestinal safety!’ Which is totally not a fortune, but would be better than, ‘many hours in a room of solitude and contemplation are soon to be yours.’

  14. The Mommy Therapy

    I feel like there is definitely a decline in the fortune cookie’s fortune telling ability. I have vivid memories of being mesmerized by the message delievered to me via Asian cookie as a child. I completely disagree with statements of fact or simple fragments instead of predictions about the awesomeness of my future self.

    Sounds like a good birthday dinner. When does the celebrating of this birthday come to a close? Is she having a sleepover or some other form of teen birthday celebration fun?

  15. Jessica

    I’m not a huge fan of Chinese food, but the place I used to live has a huge buffet like the one you guys went to (also has sushi and a “you pick the meat, we’ll slap it around for you” section, too). It was built shortly before my husband and I got married. Our parents met for the first time the night before the wedding, and the buffet is where we decided to go for some reason (none of us had ever been there before). I don’t eat fortune cookies, but I always crack mine open when I get one. That night, I received the best fortune EVER:

    “Stop searching forever. Happiness is just next to you.”

    I looked over, and it was true: My then-husband-to-be was seated right next to me. No one else’s even remotely made sense (similar to the ones you have above), but I still have this fortune and will keep it forever.

  16. mamalang

    The only buffet’s we have in town any more are those chinese type things. All of them are very scary, and I have seen roaches on the food bars in three of them. We evade those like the plague.

    And I am greatly disappointed with fortune cookies nowadays myself. Humph.

  17. Sharon

    Mamalang, I think you mean “avoid”. ;-)

    Unless, you do, in fact, evade them. That’s another story.

  18. The Other Leanne

    Under my desk blotter is what I consider the most obvious fortune-cookie fortune ever: “You will find fortune.”

  19. Sarah

    Possibly completely off topic, but for the last ten or so years, my youngest has been trying to spread his own style of urban legend… essentially, the only way to make your fortune come true, is to eat it.

    So, I had to ask if this theory had made its way south to you (We live in Ontario, Canada)

    Of course, he and another brother accept this truth tacitly, and between them have been camp counsellors for close to 15 years, so they have had a surprising amount of influence.

    p.s. You do make sure that some one else picks your cooke for you too … right?
    (okay, my family is crazy, I know)

  20. Debbie H.

    A favorite fortune that my dh would swear was in his cookie (wasn’t!) said the following: Help, trapped in Chinese fortune cookie factory…he’s sense of humor is wacky to say the least!

  21. Daisy

    I had a fortune taped to my computer monitor at school for months. Now I don’t even remember what it said. I guess its inspiration was temporary.

  22. Chuck

    I got a fortune cookie one time that said “YOUR THOUGHTS ARE HIGHLY REGARDED” but I initially read “regarded” as “retarded” and did a double take. Interesting factoid: while there is controversy over their precise origin, there is some evidence that fortune cookies originated in the United States by immigrants from Asia (like chop suey.) Glad you had a good birthday party and fun night out!

  23. Cele

    hmmm, I had a Taco Bell burrito and blew my whole diet… happy birthday Chickie.
    hmmmm, fortune cookie. yum.

  24. Heather

    I think that should be a new, higher standard for the high schools of North America: your grammar must be better than that of the cookie.

  25. Jenn

    I have noticed lately that “fortunes” have degenerated into terrible sentence fragments, although one of my co-workers got one over the winter that said “You are the crispy noodle in the vegetarian salad of life.” We liked it so much that we taped it to the desk next to the cash register.

  26. Charlene

    I had to laugh at Monkey’s all-tan plate. The first time my nephew was allowed to go through a breakfast buffet by himself he came back with a plate full of ham, bacon and sausage, and nothing else! He is truly his grandfather’s grandson. (This is the same child who was caught eating a stick of butter as if it was a candy bar. I see angioplasty in his future!)

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