THE FORTUNE COOKIE
Once, I opened a fortune cookie in a Chinatown
café on H Street only to find it empty. A clam
with no pearl, a magician with nothing up his sleeve.
I made up a fortune that went, "Drink from the well
of life, but beware of the algae." The cookie was
as hard to digest as the improvised fortune.
Once, I met a lawyer who seduced me with words, then
his hands. A smooth-skinned, smooth-talker who made
my ears blush, my stomach do flip-flops. He tried me
on the roof of his DuPont Circle high-rise, found me
innocent. The next morning, I opened a novelty fortune
cookie for breakfast. It said, "Lawyers do it in their briefs."
Once, a fortune in a cookie ripped in two, each
tattered half contained in the cookie's folds.
Carefully, I retrieved the two-part fortune, fit
the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle. Jagged
cookie quarters lay on the table, uneaten. "You have
a split personality," was what the fortune said.
Once, delirious from hunger, I neglected to tip
the ancient man who delivered egg rolls and shrimp
fried rice to the house on Warren Street. The food
was hot, filling; satisfied my craving. I washed it
down with green tea, stored the leftovers. The fortune
cookie was stale, as difficult to open as a vault.
It said, "Don't press your luck."
Gregg Shapiro is a pop culture journalist, poet,
and fiction writer who lived in Washington DC from July 1985 through
January 1988. His interviews and reviews are nationally syndicated
in a variety of regional LGBT publications. His collection of poems,
Protection, is forthcoming from Gival Press. He lives in
Chicago with his life-partner Rick and their two dogs, Dusty and k.d.
Volume 7, Number 3, Summer 2006.
To read more by this author