Friday, January 31, 2014

Fortune Cookies: A question to all your answers

Here's a short story that I wrote on a whim at 5 AM in the morning. Though, it's somewhat inspired by the recent Chinese New Year, it's also a reflection on how cultures marry and produce subcultures. The fortune cookie, one of my favorite snacks of all time, symbolizes the human tendency to place meaning where it doesn't necessarily exist, in order to get through life. Whilst writing the piece, I began with a love story of a fortune cookie writer and cracker, then moved on this notion that a tiny piece of paper could hold so much answers when seen under a certain light, only to stumble into, what I perceived to be, controversial territory. There's a lot to be said about the fortune cookie, the relationship between the East and the West, and our tendency to put too much undeserving meaning. Enjoy!

Can you sense the meaning behind this key?


"You will find your way..." It read. A small piece of paper, ready to cut you on the finger and bruise you both physically and mentally. 

        "What does that even mean, find a way?" I ask the friend I had sitting beside me. His head bowed down as he continues to sip the ridiculous looking balls in his tea. 
        "Why are you so mad, dude?" he glances back, pausing from his, otherwise disgusting activity. 
        "Why do people even make fortune cookies?" I crumple mine into a tiny knot and proceed to push into a straw. 
        "You will find your way, hmm... Think of it this way, man," he responds, his eyes blurry and his speech weary, "My old man, used to say, just think of it as a message from whoever wrote this shit. Wouldn't that be more poetic, man?"

I went home that night thinking with his words circling in my head. My friend had continued to explain how, perhaps, fortune cookie messages are actually cries for help. 
         "Imagine, these people in China or some other third world country and imagine the factories that they work in. It's hot, it's stinky, it's damp. Imagine that you have to make these stupid messages and send it out to the haves, like us. And they are trying to send signals of how bad their lives are. It could be total bullshit, but it could also be the truth," he went much too far. 

None of it made sense, did it? The fortune cookie is an American invention. And anyways, they would not write English messages if they weren't fluent in it. Who would have thought that obsessing over a message, one that is meant to define our lives on some term, would lead to this superfluous analysis of the world? Fuck. I cracked that fortune cookie to find answers, not questions. 

*Author owns the right to use the photo above

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