Small paper slips found in the fortune cookies of Chinese take-out restaurants are not insignificant. Though they may be the creation of some marketing-minded entrepreneur with a recipe for cheap, hard cookies, the fortunes contained inside have the power to bring a smile to our face.
A good fortune has two qualities. First, it’s upbeat. Nobody wants misfortune, so you don’t see fortunes that say “Death looms around the corner…” or other such ominous warnings. No, a good fortune portends good tidings of success, wealth, love and happiness.
Second, a good fortune, like a good horoscope, is sufficiently ambiguous that it could be accepted as applicable by just about anyone. Nothing too specific will do, it must be open to the interpretation of its recipient. It becomes a reflection of their own dreams.
A good fortune works well with the popular game where you add two words to the end — “…in bed.”
These days I’ve seen a number of lousy fortunes. First, some started adding lottery numbers. I’m not sure what eastern wisdom the lucky numbers draw from, but I am sure that playing the lottery involves long odds. I want my fortune to be more of a sure thing.
Then there are the fortunes that are not really fortunes, but truisms or words of wisdom. Nothing to dream about or aspire to or even chuckle about, just a statement of common sense. Very disappointing.
Kudos to Panda Express for buying good fortune cookies.