Thursday, October 1, 2009

Paths to good fortune

Last night, I warmed up an enormous casserole dish of leftover Chinese food. This was my third meal of said leftovers; such was the penance set by our resident priest-slash-spouse for ordering sixty-seven dollars' worth of take-out as lunch for two. In essence, I had moved an entire buffet three blocks from a restaurant to my kitchen counter. This seemed logical to me, especially in an economy of high gas prices.

By round three, no attempts were made to arrange, in a neat presentation, the garlic chicken next to the chop suey next to the lo mein next to the combination fried rice; the works were thrown into one dish, zapped for three minutes and eaten as an amorphous stew called simply, "Chinese".

Patty's observation, "! You eat more on one fork than I eat on seven!", touched me. Clearly, she was noticing I was hungry. Had she been even more perceptive, she may also have noticed a residual tinge of bitterness about my being denied other choices for my meal.

When I finished, I reached into the enormous bag of plum sauce, hot mustard and soy sauce (which, for some inexplicable reason, always explodes out of the package upon opening) and fished out a handful of fortune cookies.

The fact there were at least a dozen cookies only reinforced Patty's smug assertion that I'd ordered far too much for two people. Whatever. I didn't hear her complaining as she tucked into the potstickers on Day One and "reserved" the remaining potstickers for lunch on Day Two (with some thinly veiled threat of impending menace.)

My fortune:

I thought, "I don't get it. What is that supposed to mean? I don't have time for this!" I tossed it to Patty, said, " figure this out," and opened another:

Okay, this was a trifle unsettling. I've long known that my Mom has some pull, but this was just creepy. I imagined a Stephen King/Dan Brown collaboration about a neglected mother commanding a vast network of worldwide resources, all in an attempt to browbeat a child into a state of unbridled terror, all for a lack of attentiveness.

I grabbed a napkin from next to my plate and patted the cold sweat from my brow--in the process adorning my face with a soy-sauce variation on Ash Wednesday. Omnipotent or not, Mom could wait until later.

I made a resolution. I would do this fortune cookie thing, over and over, until I ran out of fortune cookies (I could always order more) or found a prediction I could live with. The next:

"Okay, okay, I get it, Mom! I'll call you in just a minute. Haven't you ever heard about the value of patience?"

Something told me my next message would read, "Bang. You're Dead," but I felt compelled to read just one more, even if my fate hung in a tenuous balance. With some trepidation, I gently eased the white slip out of its almond-flavored batter envelope.

At first, a smile played at the edges of my lips. I liked this. Oh, I really liked this.

Still, ever the realist, I set the cookie down and reached for another.


1 comment:

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