Monday, 06 November 2000

I love fortune cookies. Not because of the games people typically play with them, saying “in bed” or “between the sheets” at the end of each one. I love them because I’m enchanted with the idea that a random slip of paper can, somehow, predict the future.

Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. The fortunes are fewer and farther between, and what I’m really getting can only be called “platitude cookies.”

A real fortune would be something like “Pleasant surroundings and a happy time ahead” or “Love is in your future.” Platitude cookies, on the other hand, say things like “Your first wealth is health” and “Free advice is usually worth what you paid for it.”

Now, I must admit that “Now is the time to try something new” is surely a sign to quit procrastinating. There’s also a certain Zen-like quality in “To understand, listen beneath the words.” But they’re still not real fortunes.

There was a time when I could count on getting a real fortune just often enough to overlook the occasional platitude. Even gems like “No one ever died from laughing too often” could be washed away by something as simple as “You are next in line for a promotion.”

I had resigned myself to a life of platitudes rather than good fortune. I figured it couldn’t get much worse. Or so I thought. Then I got what can only be described as a Yogi Berra platitude cookie. It said, “The game ain’t over ’til it’s over.” That was the last straw, the game…is over!

I’m sick of platitudes! I want substance, not sentimentality! If I wanted platitudes, I’d buy a copy of “Life’s Little Instruction Book” or “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” I’m not asking for next week’s lottery numbers, just a hint of things to come.

As if Yogi Berra wasn’t enough, the other day I got a “fortune” that didn’t even qualify as a platitude. I got an Ole and Lena joke in my fortune cookie. It was a lame one too. It said “Ole chuckled as he read through the obituaries. ‘You know, Lena, it seems like everyone died in alphabetical order.'” Sheesh! Just what I needed. Somebody give me a gun so I can shoot myself!

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