Fortune Cookie

Somewhere in China, or more likely New Jersey, there are printing presses churning out miles of enigmatic ticker tape reading “An admirer is hiding his/her affection from you,” and “Simplicity and clarity should be the theme in your dress,” and “Your ability to accomplish tasks will follow with success.” Meme after cockeyed meme spooling off the presses, diced, baled and shipped to bakeries where the tired fingers of undocumented workers stuff them into golden, folded cookies.

I broke open a fortune cookie once. I don’t remember exactly where, but I’m sure there was a giant tropical fish tank in the middle of the dimly lit dining room, and a pile of chopsticks and empty plates on the table. I broke open this cookie -- always careful to take the cookie closest to me, so I would get my fortune, and not have the confusion and embarrassment of say, my mother-in-law’s fortune. I open this cookie and slip out the bit of ticker tape from New Jersey, or wherever, and it says:

Strike while the iron is

I know your mind can’t help completing the aphorism, fixing the error in translation, or printing press, or slicing machine. But consider this possibility. Consider that somewhere in a mountain monastery, at a simple desk overlooking a garden of raked pebbles, a zen master printed this fortune for me, and used all of his remaining power to ensure that it ended up on that plate, that night, in the cookie closest to me. There is no mistake.

Fuck waiting for the iron to get hot. The iron is! Strike it.

Tell your father how great he is, how large he has lived, right there in the Thanksgiving hospital room while everyone else is trying to convince themselves that he’s getting better.

Gate crash your buddy’s climbing trip to Tanzania while there are still glaciers on the equator.

Take your wife to Florence to see the Uffizi before, before, before...while the iron is.

Have a second child as soon as possible, while the window’s open!

Give the homeless guy the money you actually have in your pocket.

Send your mother that bit you wrote about things she taught you.

Climb the Matterhorn while you have the knees and the balls.

Surf because the ocean is right there every morning.

Grab your wife like your lives depended on it.

Hug your son and feel how solid he is.

Skip work and drive to the mountains.

Be honest with your friends.

Go out on a date.


I Remember a Seder.

I Learned from My Mother