February 13, 2008

O, I am fortune's fool

Last night, Rose and I had dinner at Red Bamboo (a yummy vegetarian restaurant which is also frequented by Nellie McKay, if my celebrity spotting is correct), and this was the fortune Rose got in her fortune cookie:


She was underwhelmed by this fortune, partly because it is an aphorism and not a fortune, and partly because it utterly thwarts the cookie eater who wishes to indulge in appending the traditional "in bed" to their fortune. Anyway, I also thought it was a pretty lame fortune, until I opened my cookie, which contained this fortune:


...at which point it became the best fortune ever. Anyway, the really interesting part (by which I mean "interesting to me and maybe four other people in the world") is that the fortune slips are not identical: the line breaks are different and the lottery numbers change. The Chinese vocabulary lesson on the back is different too, for all the use a fortune-cookie vocabulary lesson can be with a tonal language. Anyway, it made me curious: do the cookie makers routinely mix and match fortunes, lottery numbers, and vocabulary words to make it seem like their fortunes have more variety than they actually have, or did someone accidentally write the same fortune twice in two different bouts of fortune cookie manufacturing? I guess we'll never know, or even really give the question a second thought ten minutes from now. Which is, of course, the canonical requirement for a blog post.

Posted by Francis at 01:38 AM


The Intarwebz Knows All!

Posted by: gotcha at February 13, 2008 02:23 AM

For those who go to Chinese restaurants with children along, may I suggest the Boynton Variation? Instead of "in bed", add "but not the hippopotamus" to the fortune, making your combined fortunes, "it is better to have a hen today than an egg tomorrow, but not the hippopotamus." A six-year-old, however, may well prefer to have a hippo today than an egg tomorrow.


Posted by: Vardibidian at February 13, 2008 07:54 AM

The last time I went out for Chinese, the vocab word on the back of the fortune was correct pinyin with tonal markings. Not that most people can read pinyin.

Posted by: Marc Moskowitz at February 13, 2008 03:31 PM

It's not bad if you bend the rules and allow infixing of the "in bed". Surely it is better to have a hen in bed tomorrow than an egg in bed today.

Posted by: Rubrick at February 13, 2008 03:50 PM

If someone can read pinyin, the odds are probably good that they don't need the vocabulary lesson.

Posted by: Francis at February 13, 2008 03:51 PM

This reminds me of a Gary Shandling stand-up comedy bit I saw several eternities ago. As the story went, he was trying to impress a girl over dinner, and in the process had angered his waiter in a Chinese restaurant.

When the fortune cookies came, he opened his and it read " I peed in your hot and sour soup."

And, he then deadpanned, "...it was written in pencil!"


Posted by: Peyton at February 13, 2008 07:57 PM

Once I got a fortune that said "A gambler loses not only what he has, but also what he does not have. Lucky Numbers: 6,17,42. . . "

Posted by: Eileen at February 13, 2008 08:46 PM

that's great. i got one recently that said something like: "always listen to your mother, she knows best." since my mother is no longer on planet earth, i was a little taken aback. MESSAGE FROM THE GRAVE, MOM?

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