May 23rd, 2002


When Fortune Cookies Attack!

It rained Monday morning. And as LA drivers are wont to do, they crashed.

I was driving down the 110 north of downtown. This nine-mile stretch of asphalt happens to be the world’s first freeway; so not only is it as twisted as Dee Snyder, it also doesn’t bank too much around the curves.

A woman driving in front of me in a Corolla overcompensated around one of those curves and her front tire clipped the center divider. This caused her car to do 360’s all the way across the freeway, where her car smashed into a wall on the right side and bounced right back in front of me. As I slammed the brakes and looked behind me to make see if I was going to get rear-ended, I thought about that fortune cookie.

About every week I do takeout at this Chinese joint. The kung pao chicken’s above average, but it’s the fortune cookies I look forward to. Not just because they usually give me optimistic future forecasts in terms of my personal life, career path and genital well-being; but also because they always seem to strike that Asian part of me that’s superstitious.

For instance, a week after the lucky, lucky-ass Patriots beat the Steelers in the AFC championship game, the fortune cookie told me, "A past misfortune will bring you good luck." Based on that fortune I bet on the Patriots in the Super Bowl, even though they were14-point underdogs. And wouldn’t you know it, the bastards actually won.

Last Thursday, however, I got a fortune that sounded a bit ominous: "You will have a close encounter, of a serious kind." I looked up and shook my fist and the Fortune Cookie God.

ME: Why? Why this? I thought I was your favorite.

COOKIE GOD: All these years I’ve been giving you great fortunes, and you never eat the damn cookie. You just read the fortune and toss the sweet, crunchy goodness aside like trash. Well now I’m teaching you a lesson, fortune cookie-style!

ME: I’ll eat the cookies from now on. Just let this bad fortune slide why don’t you?

COOKIE GOD: Ah stop whining like a bitch and eat your kung pao, fool!

That weekend, I had three near-collisions while driving. Granted it may be sheer coincidence, my sudden lack of driving skills, a case of self-fulfilling prophesy, or all of the above. But on Monday morning, when that Corolla pinballed back and forth across the lanes directly in front of me, I have to admit I was spooked.

At the end of the day, as soon as I got out of the office, I drove straight to the Chinese restaurant and picked up my order. Once I was home, I tore open the cookie and read the fortune.

"Happiness is where you find it."

For once it was a lame fortune, but my superstitious ass couldn't have been happier.

Tuesday Tidbits

10 AM
Spent the morning waiting in line for two fahrging hours at the Chinese consulate for my visa. The line was so long that it went all the way out the sidewalk, right next to three Falun Gong protesters. Actually they weren’t really protesting - more like sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed.

Why the Chinese government feels threatened by these people is beyond me, unless they feel that public meditating is a blatant display of promoting laziness and therefore punishable by death.

1:30 PM
Got back to the office and was walking past the pond when I noticed the ducklings. Finally. For several months we’d seen the mama and papa duck swimming around the pond, and had been impatiently waiting for them to knock boots so that we could see cute fuzzy ducklings.

After a while, we were wondering if maybe the duck couple was putting off having kids until they were more financially secure, or if mama duck felt having children would interfere with her burgeoning career as a tax attorney. But I’ve known mama duck since she was born in our pond back in the day and knew that with her pushing three years old, her biological clock was ticking. Then a few of us caught papa duck alone with another male duck and wondered if maybe papa duck was craving more Donald than Daisy.

So it was a relief to see mama duck with her five bite-sized kids paddling around. As for papa duck, I saw him take off later. I think he felt his job was done here, and it was time to move on and impregnate other ducks.

3:30 PM
Got an amusing email with the subject line entitled "The Smoking Gun"

If you read my weekend entry almost a month ago, you may remember how my buddy – whom I nicknamed "Israel" – was competing against another guy – whom I called "Palestine" – over a girl, "the West Bank."

Well after that weekend, Israel was still pursuing the West Bank, even though she admitted to him that she was also "kinda" dating Palestine at the same time. This bothered Israel quite a bit. But the guy’s simultaneously dated several women many times in his swinging bachelor life, and I told him that the West Bank wasn’t doing anything wrong by doing the same thing. It was just a matter of whether or not Israel could stomach this until she finally decided on a guy.

For the past few weeks, Israel had been gaining ground in the relationship. And soon he thought he had her. But this past weekend the West Bank passed up on Israel’s offer to meet up with him at a party. She gave a vague reason, and this got him nervous. Israel told me at the party that he suspected she might be with Palestine. The other guys and I told him that if this shit really bothered him that much, then he should just stop seeing the damn girl. After all, Israel was a lover, not a fighter.

And that’s where the "Smoking Gun" email came in. Apparently there was a party in Le Merdien hotel that same night. And the party organizers posted a bunch of pics from that night on their Web site. A buddy of Israel’s was checking out the pics when he spotted one photo in particular and immediately emailed it to him. And this photo was the "Smoking Gun."

It was a picture of the dance floor. And dancing right in the middle were Palestine, with his trademark tan and smirk, and the West Bank, with this big-ass grin on her face.

Israel was obviously fuming over this latest piece of intelligence, but not enough to un-invite the West Bank to his big company party later this week. And knowing Israel and his severe vulnerability in regards to females, if the West Bank were to suddenly show him a good time that evening, I pretty much guarantee he’ll forget all about the Smoking Gun.

And this damn Israel-Palestine conflict will continue once again.