Let me start out by saying that outside of an Asian restaurant, fortune cookies are kind of hard to find. I went to the local Asian supermarket (conveniently within walking distance) and found the aisle designated “fortune cookies” with relative ease. What followed was the opposite.

Literally the next 15 minutes was spent walking up and down that aisle searching for them. Nothing. There were boxes and boxes of other horrific-sounding “treats” (shrimp chips? Friggin’ ew), but not a single prophetic pastry to be found. I thought about asking someone, but I figured it was some kind of elaborate joke they played on white people and white people in Asian suits (that is, suits made of Asian genes, not Asian jeans). So I left in shame to try the next supermarket, just to make sure.

Still nothing. Insane. How can a grocery store sell industrial-grade restaurant supplies and monolithic dragon statues and not have the fortune cookies? I’m forced to conclude that they must be special ordered them from the guru of fortunes.

So finally I swallowed my pride and went somewhere I knew would have them…. Panda Express. When I asked for “a bunch of fortune cookies”, I was pleasantly surprised to find out they sell them readily for a little over a dollar a dozen. The guy running the drive-thru window didn’t even make me feel stupid. In fact, he was downright congenial.

We made eye contact. It was magical.

Unfortunately, those warm and fuzzies didn’t last long. You see, as much as fortune cookies might be some elaborate pandering of Chinese restaurants towards Americans, Panda Express ups the ante. Example:

Day 1: “You will find good fortune in love.”
(underneath the fortune it reads “Panda Express – Panda Inn”)

This set off about ten different alarms. First of all, you don’t ever, EVER get a fortune cookie that actually uses the word “fortune”. That’s the equivalent of going to a haunted house that has a giant neon “Haunted” sign above it. Second, the ink was red. Yeah, I get it, the color red is kind of a signature Asian thing, but fortune cookies have blue ink, every time. Another thing…. seriously with your brand name on the paper? This fortune didn’t come from a wise, sagely fu-manchu-ed elder meditating deeply in the Himalayas. It came from Mike Thornton, Senior Fortune Writer at Panda Express Inc. And to top it all off, no translated Chinese word on the back. Just cold, unforgiving white space. It was like the cookie was telling me, “Here’s your fortune, now get the f*ck out.”

Oh yeah, and the fortune was cheesy. Vague I can handle, but this was just awful. They say most fortune tellers are hacks who tell you what you want to hear. Good fortune in love? Good grief. If this little strip of paper is what it takes to motivate someone to get out there and find someone they like, I’m betting they have bigger problems than a lack of love (like, an excess of cats).

Day 2: “A fascinating project is in your future.”

Again things fail to improve. Aside from the fact that it once again breaks the fourth wall by using the word “future”, it’s practically guaranteed to be right because future covers the time between now and dead. There’s bound to be at least one fascinating project during that period, even if it’s how to dig a strip of paper out of your choking cat’s throat with nothing but a set of chopsticks. Geez.

Day 3: “If the odds are good, take that risk you’ve been considering.”

I’m surprised this fortune didn’t come with a liability wavier. It was pretty ballsy to flat out give someone life instructions, but it’s undercut by the play-it-safe condition. Aside from the fact that I don’t consider good odds to be an actual risk, there wasn’t any I’d been considering, so I’m officially calling this one a failure.

Day 4: “You bring out the best in others.”

Okay, so finally one that wasn’t terrible. A fortune that says “You’re like steroids: you make people like themselves, only better.”

Pictured: Better(?)

Day 5: “You are a leader in your own way.”

So that credibility is gone now. The only thing keeping this from being blatant ego-stroking is that it assumes you’re not what it’s saying you are. Substitute any positive adjective and you’ll see what I’m talking about. “You are beautiful in your own way.” “You are smart in your own way.” “You are a dinosaur in your own way.”

I’m sure Uwe Boll is a fantastic director in his own way. But it’s kind of important for him to be it in other peoples’ way too.

Day 6: “Your ideas are clever and you will be rewarded.”

Awesome, finally some recognition. Because our sales are down and I had this idea for Valentine’s Day to make a giant heart-shaped piñata and fill it up with coupons and free book vouchers and if someone spends over $50 they get to take a swing and…

Day 7: “If your designs are not extravagant, they will be granted.”

DAMMIT.

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