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THE Ill Quill

Unfortunate Expectations

A couple days ago, after finishing a plate of Chinese food from Bob's Wok, I
saw the end of a fortune protruding from my fortune cookie. I hadn't planned
on eating the cookie, but figured I could use a few words of wisdom so I removed
the little slip of paper and read it out loud. Here's what it said: People who expect
nothing, will never be disappointed. Hm. I had to think about this one. I mulled
the words over in my head for a minute or two. Repeated them out loud and mulled
them over some more. Then, once I was good and ready, I pinched the piece of
paper forcefully between my thumb and index finger and shook it vigorously at the
fortune cookie.

That's easy for you to say Fortune Cookie, I said. But try telling that to my boss. I've
got a review next week and I expect to dominate. Besides, who's your boss? Oh,
that's right, me. And guess what? You're fired! It felt good to give Fortune Cookie a
taste of his own medicine. But I wasn't finished. Oh no. For after taking another
glance at the paper I noticed right below the fortune a list of lucky numbers.

Well I'll be damned, I thought. What's the deal here Fortune Cookie? You're going to
tell me to minimize my expectations, and then tease me with a set of numbers you
claim are lucky? Fortune Cookie, if that's not raising a person's expectations I
don't know what is!

Let me explain, said Fortune Cookie, in clear and calm and elderly sounding
Mandarin. But I was in no mood for an explanation, let alone the Mandarin.

Fortune Cookie, I said, despite what you say, I'm expecting big things from you,
HUGE things - I was near speaking in all capitals at this point - and it's not so
much from your advice I'm expecting these things, obviously, but from this
here set of numbers. I wove the little white piece of paper vehemently in
Fortune Cookie's face. No one had ever stood up to Fortune Cookie with
such gumption, such vigor, such unwavering fortitude, and this set Fortune
Cookie's mouth agape. That's right Fortune Cookie, I said. That's right.

Taking a moment to gather my chi in preparation for Fortune Cookie's rebuttal
I thought about the cookie's words some more. So let's say I followed Fortune
Cookie's advice, I thought, and expected nothing ever again. If I did that, if I
lived one hundred percent by the cookie's advice, I'd definitely be disappointed
because inevitably, good or bad, something would happen, as it always does.
And since I was expecting nothing, that something would ultimately lead to
disappoint on my end. Or wait, how was I to expect nothing if I wasn't
supposed to expect in the first place? Yep. I was definitely on to something,
that something being a giant hole in Fortune Cookie's line of thinking. He
had nothing.

I think you're missing the point, said Fortune Cookie, breaking the silence. It
had been a long silence, longer than I'd expected.

Is that so? I said.

It is, said Fortune Cookie.

Well, I replied, what if I told you I wasn't expecting there to be a point?

Shame. Shame. Shame. Replied Fortune Cookie. You are being foolish. Just
because I say you should expect nothing, it does not mean there will not be
something. There's always a point to these fortunes I deliver unto you, young
truth seeker. Remember what I taught you in a previous fortune about there
being no such thing as coincidence? I nodded my head, bashfully.

Yes Fortune Cookie, I said.

Come now, I expect better of you said Fortune Cookie.

Ah ha, I laughed, snapping my head up in an instant, and I of you, Fortune
Cookie, for how can you expect me not to expect anything when you just said
so yourself that you expect more from me? This took the wind out of Fortune
Cookie's waffle pockets. From now on, I said, I will expect only the best
fortunes from you Fortune Cookie. And with that I gobbled him down.

The next day I went to work with the fortune shoved in my pocket. On the
way to work, I stopped off at a 7-11 and played the lottery using the numbers
on the fortune. Then, at twelve o'clock, I promptly took it upon myself to order
Bob's Wok for the entire office. Not only that, but I volunteered to pick it up.
When I arrived at Bob's I withdrew the fortune and before handing it to the
hostess read it one last time out loud. People who expect nothing will never
be disappointed, I said, and smiling I gave it to the hostess. Can you make
sure this fortune finds its way into my boss's fortune cookie, I said. He's
having the curry chicken, extra spicy, I said.

No plobrem, said the hostess.

Thanks, I said, with a wink. He's expecting it. The hostess smiled as if he'd
seen it all before and after taking the fortune from my hands he walked back
into the kitchen leaving me to ponder whether or not anything would come
of this.

I was disappointed to say the least. For the following week I arrived at work
to find a harsh review from my boss sitting alongside the Monday newspaper
on my desk. A man by the name of Gerald Masters' face was plastered
across the front page of the newspaper. Male nurse wins record state
lottery, read the headline. Asked about his reaction Masters said he was
surprised. I was in shock, said Masters, in a statement that appeared in the
caption directly below the photo. Guess I wasn't expecting it, really, he said.

I sighed. Heavily. Should have expected this, I thought, and picking up the
phone I dialed the number to Bob's Wok. It was time for a new fortune.


Blogger Milkshake said...

Of all the gentlemen I know, you are...well, not one. But this is kind of brilliant. In the way that it makes me smile when I get home from work. Smile alot.
p.s.--I'm older than you.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Amber said...

This is an awesome story, and it makes me wish I could someday whitness someone lecturing a fortune cookie. I'm pretty sure I would love that... a lot. Maybe not as much as I love mocking people who love emo music and reality TV, or finding irony and rubbing it in losers' faces, OR as much as...no I think I would rather savor the voyeuristic pleasure of the fortune cookie incident more than a moist wedge of chocolate cake for dinner. Good story.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Key-man said...

Good story, I really like your delivery!

3:49 PM  

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