Misfortune cookies

Scott Nussbaum

Ever since I started high school, my biggest fear has not been the SAT or not getting enough sleep; it’s fortune cookies. My irrational and extremely foolish fear of the cookies is based on my experience that my fortune always ends up being wrong in the worst way possible.

For example, during my second week at Harvard-Westlake as a new ninth grader, I forgot my locker combination and had to wait until I went home to look at the slip I wrote it on. My fortune cookie the night before read, “Your memory is your best asset. Use it to your advantage.” The next year, when I was taking an SAT subject test, my fortune cookie opened the night before read, “You will see the path where others cannot.” The next morning, I went to the wrong room at my testing center and eventually found my room seconds before the test began. Earlier this year, I opened a fortune cookie that read, “Others admire your responsibility and punctuality.” Anticipating the misfortune that would occur, I made sure I had not forgotten any test or other assignment that I may have accidentally pushed aside. I spent that day in extreme caution, looking for any way the fortune might take its revenge on me again. Surprisingly, I made it through the school day without an incident; however, when I made it home, I instantly remembered that I forgot to turn in my Junior Questionnaire to my dean the moment I stepped in my house. I was convinced that I was cursed.

In order to stop the ironic misfortunes that seemed to be unleashed by the cookies, I could have simply stopped opening them. However, this seemed like I was backing down from a challenge. In some odd and crazy way, I saw my fortune cookie tribulations as annoying yet valuable experiences. To me, the bad events seemed to make me appreciate other things in my day that were going well. In a sense, I learned to accommodate to the evils of the fortune cookies and find a way to accept the inevitable mistakes. By learning to accept the misfortunes a slip of paper introduced in my life, my overall tolerance for bad events and bad days rose.

However, my accustomed acceptance of the fortune cookies was put to the test the night before my AP Physics B exam when my family yet again ordered Chinese food at the worst time possible. I nervously cracked open the cookie, well aware that the fortune would affect my test. I read aloud the small slip which said, “You are in for a surprise.” I immediately threw the slip out in frustration. The cookie had finally broken me by threatening my test. I desperately wished I had never opened that stupid cookie because I knew there was nothing I could do to stop the evil that had been unleashed.

Fortunately, nothing went wrong during my test, although this may be speaking too soon because I have not received my scores. The apparent end to the madness made me further realize that I would always experience misfortunes I my life and I would often not be able to stop them. To me, this stresses the importance of being optimistic whenever possible. There is a line between having a good outlook on life and being overly optimistic, but having the ability to let the little things go can make all the difference. And after all my misfortunes, I have adopted a rule that I will not eat Chinese food the day before a test for the rest of my life.