5:28 AM CDT, March 26, 2013
I don’t normally use my massive platform as a cultural and political force here at the 16th highest trafficked blog at RedEye to stick it to individual companies. After all, in the pursuit of a reliable and profitable business, all companies make mistakes. New Coke, Starbury sneakers, the George Clooney Batman movie—bad products surface.
Yet after ordering lackluster Chinese food with a friend the other night, I fear I cannot maintain silence on this one. No, it’s not the lackluster Chinese food establishment that sparked my white-hot ire, but rather the fortune cookies included with the meal.
My friend and I received four Golden Dragon Fortune Cookie brand fortune cookies, and as we pulled apart the crispy shells (which, I should add, were perfectly tasty) to unveil the predictions and wisdom contained within, my mood grew darker. Let’s look at the first:
• “Others take notice of your radiance. Share your happiness.”
Okay, I thought, an essentially meaningless piece of utterly vapid pablum that sounds like your Bohemian aunt trying to get you to go to her herbal tea cleanse. Still, fortune cookies frequently offer lazy nonsense advice like this.
• “You tend to look at the practical side of things.”
Wow, I thought. First meaningless advice and now a meaningless prediction. One of the powers of fortune cookies—and why I believe they are far superior to organized religion—is that they sometimes strike with eerie clairvoyance where as religion predicts guys on horses bringing an apocalypse and Tim Tebow. In high school, I got a fortune that said, “You are a lover of words. Someday you will write a book.” I also once got one that said (I swear this is true) “The only obstacle to success is your stupidity.” Which, let’s face it, has been a truer fortune than the first one. I’ve also cracked open strangely apropos fortunes before publishing that book and selling the film rights. Intellectually, I know this is my brain trying to find patterns, attempting to organize a chaotic world into a narrative that puts my selfish genes at the center of the story. But it’s still pretty weird sometimes.
• “A good deed will make you feel good.”
At this point, I was livid, noting to my Chinese food partner that the Golden Dragon Fortune Cookie writers should be immediately fired and then blacklisted from ever writing fortunes again. This last was a sentiment that even the most dewey-eyed second grader would find saccharine and obvious, and that’s without even delving into the awful rhetorical clunker that is repeating the ambiguous and uninteresting word “good” twice. Define a deed that is “good”? Are we talking about buying a homeless person a sandwich? Telling a co-worker we like her blouse? Starting a non-profit organization that mentors at-risk South Side youth? Are we talking explicitly selfless acts that require time and financial resources or just the usual doggerel associated with “goodness” like sending flowers to a significant other? Oh, and since you used the word twice, define the feeling of “good.” Wait, never mind—I don’t have time for you to flip through your Worthless Platitude and Cliché Thesaurus.
And finally, the last cookie revealed this fortune:
• “Promote literacy. Buy a box of fortune cookies today.”
Wow! What the f***! Golden Dragon Fortune Cookie is stuffing their cookies full of ads for themselves while cynically connecting their product to a larger public good. I’ll tell you what, Golden Dragon, if by gaining literacy all a person gets is the ability to decipher the characters you’re producing than I’d venture he or she is better off living a life of total ignorance
Here’s a fortune, you hopeless collection of hacks: “Others take notice of your bullshit. Leaving burning bags of feces at Golden Dragon Fortune Cookie corporate HQ will make others feel good.”
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