The topic this week is food.
I have a large extended family. My father was the oldest of five; my mother the youngest of six. When we get together the din created is its own special blend that outsiders find intimidating. (Ask any incoming spouse about their first Fabiaschi gathering– the story is sure to delight. My husband was alarmed when a great, great aunt aggressively accused me of smoking to suppress my appetite after I didn’t go back for seconds.)
To celebrate my mother’s 40th birthday the lot of us descended upon a Chinese restaurant. We had the foresight to get a private room. Our group ranged in age from twelve to seventy-five. There were liberals and conservatives; agnostics, catholics, and southern baptists. It was a mini melting pot of backgrounds and beliefs, but from the decibel hit an onlooker would assume it was a frat party. Which must be why, at the end of dinner, the waiter thought we were the right group for something special he’d baked up.
“Do you want regular fortune cookies?” he asked my cousin. “Or funny ones?” She shrugged and said funny because, why not? He smiled, pleased by her choice.
The cookies were warm to the touch– fresh out of the oven. Later I’d picture the staff cracking up in the kitchen while our mischievous waiter typed up the infamous “fortunes” that made this particular birthday so memorable.
My grandmother was the first to read what her “funny” future held. She blinked, not reading it out loud. “This can’t be right,” she said, handing it to my cousin’s husband. He choked on his wine. “Ahhhh, huh. Let’s see. It says, ‘Start your day with good luck.'” He raised his eyebrows and handed it me. The last word was not luck. And there was an a in front of good. I cracked mine open. It read, “You love [c-word].” Yes– that c-word. I was fourteen.
The more fortunes read, the more reactions I got to enjoy: laughter, huffs of disgust, cheeks flushed with embarrassment, cheeks flushed in anger. Favorites included “Don’t be mad, just fuck” and “When it rains fuck [c-word] all day.” It was the only time in the history of fortune cookies where adding the words “in bed” would actually have made the fortune tamer.
It’s a keeper of a memory.
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