lowfashion presents: unfortunate by todd stadler

An Open Letter to China Farm, Inc.

Todd Stadler
624 NE 18th Ave.
Portland, OR 97232

November 29, 2000

China Farm, Inc.
405 NE Church
Portland, OR 97211

To whom it may concern:

I recently purchased a meal at a Chinese Buffet Restaurant in Hillsboro, Oregon. It was the kind of place where you could eat "all that you can get". And I did. Eat all I could get, I mean. With the possible exception of the General Tso's Chicken, which was Stringy. But the rest of my meal was good.

Let me get to my point. At the end of my meal, I looked forward to the traditional dessert combo of Soft-Serv Ice Cream (with sprinkles) and a fortune cookie. Mind you, I do not know if this is the dessert actually eaten by the Chinese, but I think you know what I am getting at. I very much enjoy this dessert combo because not only can I dip the fortune cookie pieces into the Soft-Serv Ice Cream and eat it, but I get to have my fortune told. I usually like to think about when my fortune will come true while I am swallowing.

I was served a "Fortune Cookies Lucky Boy" Fortune Cookie as part of my dessert combo.

However, my enjoyment period was seriously curtailed upon cracking open the confection and finding not one, but two (2) fortunes inside! I was taken aback for a second. Most times, when I get a fortune cookie, there is only one fortune inside. That makes sense. There is one fortune, and it is for you. But if you have two (2) fortunes, what happens if they cancel each other out? Which one is right? This is like reading two (2) Zodiac signs for your horoscope. It just does not make sense. And which lottery number should I play? I do not have enough money to buy twenty (20) tickets of each number, especially at the rate I keep losing.

Things became more confusing when I read all of the words on the fortune cookies. Perhaps I should explain that, as I understand it, a fortune cookie is a very old tradition wherein there is this cookie that has a fortune in it. Certainly, there was a cookie here. And it was tasty. It seemed to have a hint of orange. And there was even a piece of paper inside the cookie. But I do not think it could be called a fortune. For clarification, I have included below an electronic image of the two (2) fortunes I received. My friend, who knows all about computers, helped me to download this on his computer, which I am using to type this letter to you.

The dictionary defines a fortune as "a prediction of destiny or fate". The above quip might seem to fit this definition until you think about it. It is not predicting that I will finish up old tasks. It is simply suggesting that I do so at the time I read the cookie. This makes it more of an "advice" or "suggestion cookie". Now, had it included a predicted consequence with this advice, I think we can all agree that would be a fine fortune. Hopefully, it would be happy, something like "If you finish up old tasks, you will find a $20 bill". Because that happened once when I was cleaning my room. I do not enjoy receiving sad fortunes. As a side note, I did not really follow the advice of this cookie and finish up old tasks, as I was busy at that time. I do hope to complete some tasks soon, however.

Perhaps more perplexing was how anyone could consider the following and final quote to be a fortune:

Again, this piece of paper suggests I do something, which is to smile. This is of course a fine idea. However, not only does it fail to prophesy what consequences will befall me if I do, it outright states that it does not know. Or, at the very least, it is playing coy with me. "See what happens" indeed.

I do not know if this is a matter of cultural differences or simply miscommunication, but I think it is clear that these are not fortunes, and therefore should not be called "Fortune Cookies".

Perhaps you have had to lay off your soothsayer due to budget constraints and hire a cheaper advice person, much as my local Newspaper replaced the Horoscope with Dear Abby. In both cases, the advice is welcome, but not at the cost of losing knowledge about the future. I think we can all agree we would rather know of our imminent windfall than be reminded once again to wash our hands before eating.

Regardless, I hope you take steps to correct this problem. Ideally, you would return to the grand and noble tradition of wrapping genuine predictions in your tasty cookies. Or at the very least, you could change the name to something like "Advice Cookies Lucky Boy", to indicate that there was no portent inside.


Todd Stadler

P.S. I am not angry, so do not worry that I desire back my money spent on the meal. I feel justified in the copious amounts of Sesame Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, Green Beans, and Fried Dough that I received. But I think you understand where it is I am coming from.

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