The fortune cookie sits on the surfboard coffee table right in front of me. I moved it from the kitchen where it lay, ignored, left over from some long-ago take-out order. I think of opening it. Of being uplifted by a pithy promise of a Happy New Year. I could use a bit of boost, as for here in the middle of the first month of 2022, despite vaccines and a booster Iâ€™ve contracted COVID.
At this point, about five days into developing symptoms, Iâ€™m feeling much better, although anything would be an improvement over the initial days of experiencing a hacking, dry cough that convulsed and wracked my entire body. No medication seemed to provide relief. The Beleaguered Husband, who attempted safe distancing, stared aghast from across the living room at seeing me flaying about in the ugly sweatpants, eyes feverish, hair gone wild enough to rival a MacBethian witch, all while producing growling, barking, unnatural guttural noises as if one possessed.
When he gallantly offered to take me to the hospital, I suspect he just wanted to get rid of me. But I knew that if there was not improvement soon, we might well have to seek medical help and I wanted to avoid any diagnosis that might end in the dreaded ventilator. I thought this new variant was supposed to be mild, as if one just had a cold, light flu or a headache, easily subdued with Tylenol, ginger tea and some quality TV time (a 2016 replay of the â€śWestminster Dog Showâ€ť anyone?).
Although still sick, Iâ€™ve regained some stamina and rejoice in having come safely through the worst of that dark viral forest to lift my head up and into the Topanga light. Perhaps I wax overly dramatical, but I truly felt a sense of trial. Of course, now with Mr. Anapol also testing positive, I watch him closely but so far he is spared my fate and can enjoy yelling at a Rams game, which I deduce from his scurrilous spewing forth, must not be going well. So now we are both home, quarantined, awaiting further test results, foraging through the kitchen cupboards in search of sustenance. Imagine the thrill of finding an old can of baked beans or pack of salted nuts, an ancient Betty Crocker cake mix or the corn dogs in the freezer. Yes, we can order supplies online, but the process seems daunting to our still fevered minds.
We receive our latest results from Kaiser, mine from day seven, his from day five; still positive. Itâ€™s as if there has been a big stop sign erected against all future pursuits; no Trader Joeâ€™s, no sitting on the beach, no work, no visiting friends, no browsing through the library, no happy hour, not even a trip to the Do It Center. Perhaps there is something the universe is trying to tell me, something I need to know or change or remember before taking another step into 2022.
Again, I finger the fortune cookie. Could it hold the answer? Some sage advice? But the cookie can be dubious. The fortunes inside cannot always be called a fortune or prediction. Instead, they might only be some clichĂ©d reference to a personality trait, Your friendly nature wins you friends, An analytic ability is helpful in the world of finance, or odd yet obvious statements such as, The tree grows from its roots up, Patience is a worthy virtue, or, When there is a knock at the door open it.
In spite of the uncertain or ambiguous message awaiting me, my curiosity is growing. What will it say? Even if itâ€™s just some flattering platitude, perhaps, Your beauty increases by the day, Iâ€™ll take it. But then it comes to me: The now must influence the future.
Suppose the cookieâ€™s missive is changing, evolving inside of it, adjusting the pronouncement and rearranging lucky numbers to address my up-to-the minute current state. With an abundance of time on my hands, the Twilight Zone isnâ€™t on yet, and with the Chinese New Year approaching, I explore the origin of the fortune cookie. I imagine it to be some revered, ancient Chinese custom from thousands of years ago. However, my romantic notion is dashed. The Fortune Cookie may well have been created right here in Los Angeles as recently 1918 by one David Jung who founded the Chinese Noodle Factory. At least thereâ€™s an ethnic connection. Imagine the cookie just being another invented part of the City of Angelsâ€™ manufactured dreams.
Still, something about me is longing to know what it has to say, as I am equally desirous to know the result of the home COVID test I have just taken. The minutes tick by. My moneyâ€™s riding on a negative reading. YES! Iâ€™m negative, good to go, free, back in the game. Hello, World! But not without the guidance of the cookie. For ten days I have waited, putting off the unveiling, allowing myself to evolve and be worthy of its sagacious words. This is it. Ready?
A Friendâ€™s Advice Is Invaluable
Thatâ€™s it, not even any lucky numbers? I guess Iâ€™m not really surprised, though after all the buildup I suffer a twinge of disappointment. Yet maybe a friend does have invaluable advice to share. I query them and so far, here is what I got.
Give Neither Advice Or Salt, Until You Are Asked For It
Be Your Own Best Friend, Not Your Own Worst Enemy
Que High And Draw Back
Your Husband Could Make A Lot Of Money Selling Vegetarian Pies
Weâ€™re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
Along those lines, I could add my own Advice to Self:
Never Buy Scotch Tape From The Dollar Store
Take not for granted, my dear, any day you walk under the sun healthy and well,
and so does the cat.
Happy Chinese New Year!