Fortunes told here!

(not a CIDU) Today we’ll try something different. In the comments, describe a particularly memorable fortune you received, and a bit of any backstory

— OR —

A fortune that would be particularly appropriate for a particular person / group. Give both the person and the fortune. BUT – NO PRESIDENTS OR EX-PRESIDENTS!

I’ll start: I was at my birthday dinner with my wife and two teenaged daughters. The fortune: “All is not yet lost”, which teenagers found hilarious when applied to their aging father. The phrase still turns up: “Remember, Dad, All is not YET lost”.


  1. No discussion of fortunes can be complete without mentioning the traditional suffix: “in bed.” Adding that will improve even the most boring or inscrutable cookie phraseology.

    P.S. Personally, I would have extended the prohibition to all politicians (domestic and international), and not just (American) presidents.

  2. We were out with our kids and several friends, a fairly large group, maybe 8 or 9 people. When the fortune cookies came, the adults and the older kids read their fortunes out loud. It was the usual stuff, the sort of thing Wallace is spouting in this strip. Then our youngest, not quite three at the time, looked at her fortune and announced, “Be careful in plastic boats.” That’s been a family saying ever since.

  3. My sort-of story:
    40 or so years ago, we [university computing services] used to go out as a group occasionally for dinner, and decided to try the new (only!) Szechuan restaurant in town. One of my cow-orkers was, I thought, a reasonably sophisticated guy: his father was a minister and so they’d moved a bunch, including living overseas, which I figured probably meant he knew a bit of the world beyond our smallish university town.

    After the meal, fortune cookies arrived, and everyone opened theirs and crunched away at the cookies. I turned to him and asked, “So what was your fortune, Colin?”

    “Fortune?” he replied, chewing away. He’d never heard of fortune cookies, had eaten the whole thing!

    At the group Christmas party a few weeks later, he was presented with a box marked “Safety Fortune Cookie”, which contained a cookie with the fortune wrapped around the outside. That fortune read:

  4. I’ll dig up a few fortunes I have together, but first a parallel observation and a possible game to be played. My contention is that when a table full of people gets fortune cookies, the fortunes are always accurate, but you never get your own. So everyone reads theirs and you decide whose is whose.

  5. I was at lunch with a group of eight or ten coworkers. Everybody else has typical fortunes.

  6. The first time I got married, or rather during the engagement part, I went to eat with my mother and two sisters. Out of all the cookies, mine was the only one mentioning I was getting married soon.

  7. Sometime before Thanksgiving I started playing with a website that generates fortunes using A.I. There have been some amusing results. Just now I got “To others: You make me happy.” and somewhat ominously, “We will never have a relationship like that again.”

    I have saved some “analog” ones from years ago. One rather specific one reads: “Someone is taking you to a shopping trip in Milan.” Most are more generic.

  8. My mother died when I was young, and when I was in my first year of college in Boston my father married his second wife, on Block Island, Rhode Island. I played the organ at the wedding. Now the plan was that my father would drive from Western Massachusetts and I would take the bus down from Boston, meet him in I forget what town in RI, and we go over to the island in time for the wedding rehearsal. Well, it didn’t work out quite that way. There was a heavy storm, and the bus got into Providence too late to make the connection. The ferries weren’t running anyway, so Dad was stuck on the mainland. However, Dad had friends in Rhode Island who would also be going to the wedding. All I had to do was take a certain bus to a certain bus stop where Dad would pick me up, but that bus got delayed too. It was late when we finally got to the friends house. We were all hungry so we all went out for Chinese food. Meanwhile Dad had made phone calls and plans to get us over to the island the next day for the wedding.

    Things were ominous enough at that point, but the food at the Chinese restaurant was excellent. Then we got the fortune cookies.

    Here is my dad’s fortune:


    Well, the weather was fine the next day. We made it to the island and they were happily married for the remaining 43 years of dad’s life.

  9. Finally went through my stack of old fortunes. I never liked the horoscope-style “You will have a great financial windfall” fortunes, I wanted actual wisdom. Here are the ones I wished I’d written:
    “He who makes no mistakes usually makes nothing at all.”
    “Not to decide is a decision.”
    “Keep your idealism practical.”
    “Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.”
    “Many questions are unanswerable. Many answers are questionable.”

  10. Back some time ago, when I was still a productive member of society, we used to get Chinese food delivered to the office once a week. I was a member of the usenet group, and for a while I posted the fortunes that came in the cookies. I have some of them below. I didn’t include the allegedly humorous commentary from the posts.

    “You will soon change your present line of work.”
    “Your choices at the moment will be good ones. Trust yourself.”
    “Great thoughts come from the heart.”
    “You will make change for the better.”
    “Simplicity and clarity should be your theme in dress.”
    “You will be successful in your work.”
    “Travels from nesting space will take you to a broader cultural horizon.”
    “The time is right to make new friends.”
    “Treat yourself to something of quality. You deserve it.”
    “You will be unusually successful in business.”

  11. Robert has two nieces who were adopted (by his Italian American sister and her British Jewish American husband) from China. When the first niece came here – about 3 years old – we used to watch once a week – mid week (SIL did not want her daily gym session and they did not have a babysitter that night.)

    We took her to a Asian buffet for dinner one night. The fortune cookies came. Robert shows her how to open the cookie and takes the fortune to read it to her. It was some complicated fortune and she could not understand it. He was trying to explain it to her. I picked up the fortune and looked at it and told her “It says that you are very pretty girl.” Worked much better and was appreciated and understood than the real fortune. – Sometimes one just has to make up their own fortune.

    (She is in now in college and currently dating an older man which all hope will end soon.)

  12. This was a while ago. One restaurant gave me the same fortune 3 different times and none of the tablemates ever got one. “You’ll make someone a good husband.” First, why would they have a gender specific fortune and, second, which meaning did they intend?

  13. Lola: you imply there is more than one meaning to your fortune; the only ambiguity I can tease out is the verb “make”, which can be either “cause to become” or “become”; in that case, the fortune is not gender specific, as you can interpret it as “cause [someone] to become” in case you are female.

    I don’t think that is what you were referring to, however, so I am curious what meanings you saw in the fortune?

  14. larK, that’s the ambiguity I see too, but I don’t follow your objection to it. Please note that along with the different senses of “make” there correspond different roles for “someone” — dative (make for someone) or direct object (make someone into a..).

  15. Long long ago (you can tell by the vocabulary) there was this joke based on the same ambiguity:

    My mother made me a homosexual!
    If I give her the yarn, would she make me one too?

  16. Maybe there are more, but the two I saw were I would be a good husband (doesn’t work unless I’m the husband in a lesbian couple) or I could turn someone into a good husband in which case my gender could be irrelevant if I’d be helping someone become a good husband for someone other than myself.

  17. So I guess what I’m saying is that the fortune wasn’t gender specific because one could plausibly understand it in the second sense where the reader’s gender is irrelevant. If you are understanding it as the first sense and you are a woman, you have obviously misread it, because fortunes are all knowing, so it obviously must know you are a woman, and so it can only be the second sense that is meant. QED.

  18. “You’ll make someone a good husband” sounds like the famous Delphic oracle “A great empire will fall.”

  19. I made my son-in-law’s wife, whichever meaning of “made” you want to apply (nature or nurture). There was a time when my daughter was attempting to defend her mother’s contribution to her creation, by stating “I came out of her” to which I pointed out “you came out of me long before you came out of her.” and she didn’t have an answer to that.

  20. More specifically, my first sentence includes the meanings of “made” for which it is applicable, so attempting to insert a different meaning creates no scandal. I am not D—— T—–, wishing he could date his adult daughter (despite the fact that both of them are already married).

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