This is the second chapter in the 10,000 Fortune Cookies story. To catch up go here https://skestories.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/10000-fortune-cookies/
The problem of repeat fortunes left Janine floored, literally! After realizing that her goal to learn ten thousand Chinese words from fortune cookies may not work, Janine hadn’t known what to do. She lay on the floor for two whole days staring at the ceiling before she felt a gnawing in her stomach. She had to do something, so Janine decided to order in. She opened her laptop and looked up “fortune cookies” in Google. The first few sites listed were generic sponsor sites that always seemed to clutter her searches. She scrolled to the bottom, and moved on to the next page. She scrolled to the bottom again without seeing anything promising. Her eyes were starting to glaze over, she realized that this search was hopeless. Nevertheless, she clicked to the next page, and scrolled almost to the bottom before a site caught her eye. Mr. Fu’s Famous Fortune Cookies. Intriguing. She clicked on the link, and saw a page that looked homemade, and frankly a little cheesy. The graphics were pretty awful. There was a pixelized dragon on a red background, surrounding the central word block. It read . . .
Mr. Fu is the foremost in fortune cookie expertise. Mr. Fu has given fortunes to Emperors and townspeople alike. Each cookie is hand-crafted, and each fortune guaranteed an original. Since opening his doors two thousand years ago, he has not had one repeat fortune. Each is a diamond of personal wisdom and guidance. See all the ways your fortune will improve as you partake of these crunchy, prophetic pastries. All of your wildest dreams could come true with a crack of the cookie. Sign up for our free cookie delivery program. Fortunes delivered to your door daily, only two dollars a month. Plus, for a limited time only, shipping is free! ! ! So wait no longer, order your future today! Sign-up below. DISCLAIMER: : Cookies are absolutely non-returnable, as are all fortunes received.
Janine couldn’t believe she had found exactly what she needed! It seemed too good to be true. Cookies delivered to her door every day? Without shipping? “Where was the catch,” she wondered. Two dollars a month was nothing! And that bit about opening his doors thousands of years ago was a bit odd. Obviously it was a long running family operation that for centuries. So why the wording HIS DOORS then? Janine figured it was a cultural nuance. She made a mental note to study about Chinese culture before she took her trip. Then there was the part about returning cookies, and fortunes? Who would return a cracked cookie anyway? She shook off her doubts. It was probably a bait anyway. She would sign up and they would then let her know about other necessary conditions.
Janine filled out the form, which only asked for her first name and address. She waited for the inevitable message, “In order to get your free cookies you needed to sign up for three gold offers and two pink, open a new credit card, buy a car, and sign away custody rights to your firstborn child when you have one”. However, the only message that popped up was a golden text box that said, “謝謝 – Thank you!” Janine felt possibly more duped than she might if it had been an obvious scam. That was it? Nothing more? Oh well, it was worth a try at least. It didn’t even ask for credit card information! What a crock. She was mentally exhausted. Janine closed her computer and heard a knock at her door. It was Bob with her order. She opened the fortune cookie for the meal first, as always. It read. . . A good fortune may forewarn bad luck, which may in turn disguise good luck. Janine scoffed! What kind of advice was that? She turned the fortune over to find the word garbled in a printer mishap. Stymied again, she went to bed, resolved that she would find a real solution to her problem in the morning.
Suddenly Janine was gazing at the forbidden city, she wondered how she had gotten there, and marveled at the immense beauty of the ancient palaces. She gazed about her and realized that she could understand everything the Chinese passers-by were saying. An old woman walked by with a cart full of noodles, and offered her a free fortune. She opened it. Written in Chinese, it was illegible to her. She turned it over to read the word on the back. She discovered it was an English word, but somehow seemed foreign. She threw the fortune in the gutter and walked a pace toward the forbidden city when she realized it was farther away than before, people around her began speaking a little faster with a distinct chipping in their accent. Again the woman with the cart meandered by and offered a cookie. Janine took it again and this time could understand more of the chinese fortune, the English word on the back of the second also seemed strange to her. She again headed towards the forbidden city only to realize that now there was a large crowd of people blocking the way. Each of the people held out a fortune cookie for her. They smiled and bowed, like characters in a Bruce Lee movie. But they would not let her pass without collecting a cookie. After her arms were full of cookies she realized she was on her home street again, she wandered the alleys, and streets sure that the forbidden city was just around the next bend, more frantically searching she dropped the cookies. Which she then realized were her bed sheets.
Upon waking, Janine remembered her experiences of the night before, and with a renewed sense of hopelessness she realized that it was Monday, she had work. The alleys in her cookie filled dream made her feel all the more confounded. She went to get her morning paper.
Janine felt shocked to find three ornate little boxes the color of ripe cherries, and tied with simple little gold bows sitting on the landing. She stared in amazement, then looked down the hallways to make sure this was wasn’t a prank from one of her mischievous neighbors. They loved to tease her about her Chinese food addiction. The neighbors were still snug in their beds, so far as she could tell; for none peeped out at her. She carefully picked up the small red take-out style boxes, and placed them on her kitchen counter. She wondered which of the boxes she should open first. She closed her eyes and, throwing her open palm out, grabbed the first one she felt. She untied the glittering golden bow, and opened the vermilion box. Inside lay the most pristine fortune cookie she had ever laid eyes on. It was perfectly formed, with crisp dimpled edges. Like a pair of plump white lips it sat there beckoning her.
Janine grabbed it and gently cracked it open. The fortune was in Chinese characters! 結束避免了泥漿可以節省你的鞋子 但將花費更多的 She couldn’t even read it! She turned it over and there was the word “study-Yánjiū” with the lucky numbers 3 8 11 19 30 49 . She turned the fortune back over and magically it seemed the fortune was now in English. It read. . . . Avoiding the mud might save your shoes, but will cost more in the end. . . She was more than a little shocked. She turned it over again, and again, doubting now whether she had originally seen the chinese characters at all. . . .
Stay tuned for Chapter 3 next month!