A few months ago, for reasons that I do not recall and could probably never explain, Amanda and I stopped at one of those crappy little Chinese Restaurants stuck between a dry cleaner and a dollar store in some out of the way run down strip mall in Andover.1 We were very hungry; I remember that. We ordered the usual: Egg foo yung for Amanda (I personally don’t know why anyone would eat that) and Kung Pao chicken and something noodly for me.
We were expecting to be satiated by the food, but to be made somewhat ill from the low quality ingredients and poor cooking one usually finds in a hole in the wall Chinese takeout place. Amanda, of course, would hardly notice because she is a born and bred Minnesotan which pretty much disqualifies her from identifying quality Chinese food. (I hope she doesn’t read this particular blog post!) But seriously, we do have a bit of a difference in opinion on what constitutes good Chinese food, and this opinion does seem to be shaped by our regional origin. My opinion is, of course, more correct, not because I grew up in Albany, New York (where there was exactly one Chinese restaurant at the time) but because I lived for 17 years in Boston, where Chinese Food is as good as it is in, say, San Francisco.
So one day when conditions were just right for ordering pizza, we ordered Chinese food from Wok 88, the aforementioned hole-in-the-wall. This time we ordered something different, and it was also outstanding. Since then we’ve ordered food from this place a few times. I am very impressed.
But then the unthinkable happened.
One day they delivered the food (by this time the delivery guy knew Amanda quit well … she always deals with the food delivery people when we order out because I don’t like strangers … so they spent some time catching up on the news since the last delivery, etc. etc.). We ate the food. It was great. Then we opened the fortune cookies.
Amanda and Julia got these fortunes:
Totally appropriate. Amanda was in the middle of negotiating a new jot at her high school, and we all know that School Administrators need to be handled firmly, so her fortune, the top one, was appropriate. Julia was in the middle of developing strategy for a debate at school, where strength of purpose and energy of will would be just the thing (her team handily won the debate, by the way).
Then, I opened mine and it was this:
I got the editing error. And I know exactly what this was.
Do you remember my friend Lynne? I’ve mentioned her a few times before. We met in South Africa and were instantly thrown into a very difficult situation in which we needed to rely on each other’s comradeship and willingness to watch each other’s back over a stressful three week period. In the end, we would hate each other or be best friends forever. As it turns out, it was the latter, but even after that first period traveling together in the wilds of Africa, our relationship still had more room to develop. So, when this IM conversation happened with her …. well, it was interesting:
Lynne: “So, what’s the evil plot?”
Lynne: “The ‘evil plot’ you mention in the email? Am I in on it or am I the subject of it!”
Lynne: “Look at the email you sent me. Down at the bottom.”
It turns out that I had left the following sentence fragment at the bottom of an email I had send her the day before:
implement evil plot
You see, I had many things to say to Lynne in that email, so I made a list. The last item on the list was a quick note I jotted down to remind myself of something. The phrase “implement evil plot” was meant to remind me of an idea having to do with how to get an extra free plane ticket. The details are unimportant. But somehow a bunch of blank lines came to exist above the mnemonic phrase, and when I finished the email I forgot it was there.
“People try thing, because they just don’t want it enough” is clearly a note some cookie-author wrote to remember an idea that might have made a brilliant fortune. But then s/he forgot to turn it into an actual fortune. But it never got erased. Somewhere down the line, a file consisting of a string of fortunes meant to be printed up and stuffed into cookies (how do they do that, anyway?) was passed on and this item never noticed, perhaps for the same reason that my evil plot was neither erased nor converted into meaningful prose about airplane tickets. The printers printed it, the cookie-stuffers stuffed it, and it ended up as my fortune.
I’ve never been the same since.
1To be absolutely accurate, I don’t remember what the restaurant was stuck between, but you get the idea.
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