Of all the Asian nations, China has always been one of my favorites, so there would have been no reason for me to assume that a nation so mighty and with such vast, delicious buffets would stab me in the back. Therefore, I, not realizing that there was an invisible war being fought by the Chinese American population of Southern California and the unsuspecting hungry couples inhabiting So Cal, suggested that my girlfriend and I dine at a Chinese buffet. I had not been to a Chinese buffet since migrating from middle-America to the west coast, and was excited to compare Oklahoma Chinese to California Chinese. To my delight, California Chinese buffet’s are exactly alike. Everywhere I looked were greasy gobs of golden fried or sauteed meats and semi-meats, vegetables soaking in salty soupy sauces, and really low-grade seafood all medium to medium-hot in temperature, perfect for mass consumption. I ran down the aisles(this buffet had aisles!), methodically piling on enough food to effectively sample the majority of the buffet while still leaving room for a second helping of the best of the mediocre and a little bit of ice cream with sprinkles for dessert. I should have known that something was wrong when I found out that they did not have ice cream or sprinkles, but I continued eating and eating, knowing for certain that at the end of the meal, I could always rely on the fortune cookie for dessert.
Much to the satisfaction of the restaurant owners, I became too full to shove another pot sticker down my throat, and lunch officially came to an end. When the waiter brought our check, he had garnished it, expectedly, with two individually packaged fortune cookies. I have heard different superstitions added on to this already superstitious folded piece of sweet whatever(bread?), and have always entertained some of them. For instance, I am always sure to eat the cookie before I read the fortune and to read the fortune out loud, lest it will not come true. After I swallowed enough of the gum-cuttingly crunchy, not very sweet, cookie, I looked at my well-deserved fortune. To my surprise there was what I considered to be the best fortune to ever be placed inside a baked cultural icon ever! My eyes lit up and I specifically exclaimed to my girlfriend, “That’s the best fortune ever!” She did not seem to think that it was as incredible as I did, but being the sort of hapless guy that I figured myself to be, it was an astonishingly insightful fortune and one that I hoped would come true.
Phase one of Operation: Use Josh’s Sentimentality to Fuck Him In the Ass was complete. I have to give it to those crazy Chinese tricksters for being so elaborate. They must have really done their homework because Operation: Use Josh’s Sentimentality to Fuck Him In the Ass must have been a covert op that took months to complete not including the gathering of intelligence that probably spanned fifteen years or so before I even showed up at that restaurant.
After obliviously falling into the early stages of their plan, I cheerily asked my girlfriend to hold on to the fortune for me. She accepted, but reluctantly. You see, I try to make a habit out of keeping things as purportedly meaningless as a little piece of paper from cluttering my life, and therefore do not necessitate a conventional wallet with pockets, but rather a money clip. I had never thought a fortune would come into my life that would be so grand that I might need to keep it forever. So when this omen presented itself, I knew I needed to preserve it. Women on the other hand live for that sort of crap and even carry around a bag full of pockets with zippers perfect to store fortunes from fortune cookies. She even had her own stock-pile of fortunes where she placed mine, so I really did not see any problem with it.
A week after eating at the buffet, we broke up. It was a very sad, abrupt break up coming shortly after lunch at a Korean Bar-B-Q. I had forgotten about the great fortune almost instantly after leaving the buffet the week before and never even thought about it until months later, when I was having lunch, again, with the now ex-girlfriend at a Mongolian Bar-B-Q.
It was the first time that I had seen her in two months with very little contact in between, so it was the reunion that I had hoped for for some time. We talked and laughed, possibly flirted, all with little awkwardness, which was pleasant. Towards the end of the meal, on cue, the waitress brought us the tab with two individually packaged fortune cookies to garnish. I ate mine in the normal superstitious fashion and read the fortune which I remember specifically as being awful. After being disappointed, I suddenly recalled a time when I had an amazing fortune. My brain slowly started to click and I began to remember all the emotions I had felt after being graced by that one extraordinary fortune cookie. I could call back every detail except for what the fortune cookie actually read. Then I realized that I had given it to the very girl that I was sitting across from! I enthusiastically asked if she still had it in her purse and remarkably she did! I was so anxious to read it. I did not have a clue what it said, but I knew that whatever the Chinese had inscribed on that piece of paper had made me so incredibly happy at one time in my life. I unfolded the fortune to bask in the sweet nostalgia of that moment long ago. “Your lover will never leave you.” It read.
I can assume quite confidently that what made Operation: Use Josh’s Sentimentality to Fuck Him In the Ass worth every moment and dollar spent was my reaction when I read the fortune for the second time. There was the moment leading up to reading it, happy, ear to ear grin, a pause while I read, then slowly the grin faded and I, astonished, mustered a, “Huh.” If you have ever actually seen the mental bubble pop and splatter in someone’s face, seen them become instantly humbled, then you know exactly what the Chinese were laughing about that day. “Huh,” I said. It was like a laugh, but the wind was practically knocked out of me, so laughing was not what I felt like doing. If I were a cartoon wolf, my jaw would have dropped, breaking the table on the way to the floor while a jazz trumpet would play a highly appropriate, “Wah wah wahhhhhhh.”
I immediately became slightly uncomfortable and, not thinking, gave the piece of paper back to her. Before we were leaving, I noticed that the great fortune was still on the table, and still feeling some sort of attachment, I decided to pick it up.
It is only now that I am able to realize the extensiveness of what seemed like a prank but is most certainly an underground multi-national conspiracy to keep me from propagating. The extremely long reconnaissance for Operation: Use Josh’s Sentimentality to Fuck Him In the Ass allowed them to learn every single thing about me. I would expect them to know my preference for Chinese food, but the intricacies of my heart? Bravo China. They knew after so many heart breaks, “Your lover will never leave you.” was the one thing that would make me retarded and not think about anything else other than how lucky I was. Also, it is probably not a coincidence that “Your lover will never leave you.” is probably the only fortune in the world capable of scaring off a girlfriend in the first two months other than, of course, “You will contract a VD”. Inherently my fortune could have been innocent, but when I made her carry the proof that she was mine forever in her purse, you can assume that various seeds were planted in her mind concerning her commitment to a relationship that was, for the most part, breezy up until I laid the big fortune on her.
Technically the operation was a success a week after we broke up, but I put the cherry on top, assuring the extinction of a second relationship, when I asked her to give me the fortune back. I mind as well have said, “What was that awesome fortune I loved so much? Oh yeah, ‘Your lover will never leave you.’ What a load of crap, huh? Huh!?”
I have not talked to her or eaten at an Asian restaurant since. Right now, the wounds are fresh from the attack by the Chinese and while I hope that some day I might be able to laugh at this story or perhaps have it used as a really long lyric in an Alanis Morrisette song(don’t ya think?), right now it serves as a cautionary tale for you and your loved one. If it happened to me, it can happen to you. Happy Valentines Day.
By: Josh Gilpatrick