I’m a bit of anomaly, in more ways than one. However, in this particular entry, I’d like to discuss a matter that sets me apart from the rest of my people: my disdain for Chinese food. I know, you are probably thinking there must be some non-Jewish blood in my family because every flipping Jew craves Chinese food. After all, it’s where we spend every Christmas day.
And yet, despite this shared culinary adoration, I find myself on the outskirts of popular opinion. Just the sight of chicken lo-mein and a piece of me dies inside. It seems irrational, but more significantly, it creates a constant barrage of challenges for me when I have to attend a family gathering… inevitably held at the local kosher Chinese restaurant.
I sit in the corner choking down a mixed vegetable dish and coughing up the copious amount of MSG I expect I am ingesting, while everyone arounds me basks in the glory of their cashew chicken and wanton soup. I grumble, grumble, grumble, and my immediate family members rejoice in their clearly caloric decisions.
Despite the obvious disparity between my tastes and theirs, I somehow manage to stomach each and every experience because of a little something that I know will follow the meal: the fortune cookie.
As a highly superstitious individual, I take the fortune cookie quite seriously. If it says, “Tomorrow will not bode well,” I am inclined to call in sick and pray I spot no cockroach while I hide beneath my comforter. But if it says, as it did yesterday, “You are the verge of exciting adventures. Chase after them,” I am tempted to book a flight to Cape Town and explore some South African wineries.
My mother, however, does not share this belief system. If the Chinese restaurant– say Royal Dragon– deals her a less than promising fortune, she throws the cookie to the wind and picks a new one. And yesterday she engaged in the aforementioned behavior, much to her daughter’s chagrin.
When I challenged her on tempting fate, she smirked and said, “Yaffa, dear, it’s not gospel.” And while the rational part of me knew she was right, I still found it hard to accept her words. It took me back to the moment when I discovered that the tooth fairy not only lacked wings, but coincidentally looked identical to the woman who birthed me. It was heartbreaking.
And on the ride back from DC, I contemplated a world without fortune cookies and tooth fairies and unicorns… and I didn’t like it one bit. I, and I suspect I am not alone in my thinking, need to believe in the impossible. Or at least to believe that somehow, someway the impossible can become possible.