Swallowing My Fortune

Two nights ago I accidentally swallowed my fortune. Well, not my literal fortune- but I did swallow that small piece of paper that sits inside of a fortune cookie. You may be wondering how I could do such a careless thing? Well, allow me to explain. Please do not disregard me just because of my silly error. I have a story to tell and the ending will be pleasant enough to compensate for my lapse in mindfulness.

You see, I had not gone out for Chinese food in over a decade. It had been an even longer time since I have eaten a fortune cookie. I abstained from eating Chinese food because the high sodium intake and MSG that is added to the food causes my blood pressure to rise and my mind to get lost in a numb lethargy. I can’t think straight and I feel the pulsations in my body like a sailor feels the turbulent sea beneath his feet. So in order to avoid these traumatic side effects of Chinese food I have just abstained from eating.

But this does not mean that I do not crave Chinese food from time to time. Chicken chow mien, pot stickers and won ton soup are some of my favorite dishes and occasionally I will have a longing for all or one of them that causes me to forget about the traumatic side effects of Chinese food. The other night when I went to dinner with my wife I assumed that since I had not eaten Chinese food in over ten years I could afford a slip, a lapse in judgment, a high dose of sodium and MSG.

The meal was delicious but the moment I felt the lethargy come on I started to drink pints of ice water to keep my mind from becoming to foggy. I felt my heart begin to palpitate after I ate the lemon grass chicken but the dinner was so delicious that I was able to ignore my physical symptoms. I had food stains on my t-shirt (a sign of a good meal) and when the waitress brought two fortune cookies with the bill- I wasted no time in eating one. My wife looked at me like I had just told her an unbelievable joke. She said “you’ve got to be kidding me” as she cracked open her fortune cookie. I swallowed mine. “What?” I asked. “You just swallowed your fortune,” she said.

I took a deep breath and thought about what I had just done. How bad could it be to swallow a piece of paper with small amounts of black ink on it? I asked my wife if I could see her fortune and noticed that the piece of paper was not much bigger than my pinkie. No sweat, I thought even though I was slightly nervous when I left the restaurant that I could suffer some adverse effect from swallowing a fortune.

Surprisingly, for the rest of the evening I felt fine. My wife and I went out for a beer and we laughed a lot together (something that we do not often do anymore). My mood was unusually good and I told my wife several stories that I had never told her before. The high sodium content in the food and the MSG that I had consumed was not negatively affecting me in the least. In fact, I was feeling stronger, healthier, more satisfied than I ever remember feeling before. It was as if I was having an adverse reaction from the Chinese food. Except this time rather than feeling ill I felt high on life. My body in turn was singing the praises of my good mood.

That evening my wife and I made passionate love for the first time in over a year. We connected on an astral level that required us to leave our bodies behind. Our souls melted into one another and we slept wrapped up in one another’s arms with smiles carved into our faces. The following morning I awoke rested and rejuvenated. You must understand that this is highly unusual for me. Normally I wake up feeling like I was perpetually hit over the head all night long. My back aches. I am grumpy and I don’t want to talk to anyone. On this morning I got out of bed without a trace of agony in my lower back. I made my wife breakfast in bed, after which we made love again. After, I did something I NEVER do. I took the dog for a long walk before it was even ten am.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that yesterday was the best day of my life. I was more alive than I have ever been. My mood was positive the entire day through and I laughed enough to supply every member of my community with an ounce of joy. I painted, did yoga, sat for thirty minutes in meditation, did some gardening, wrote two poems, bought my wife flowers, filled up the refrigerator with groceries, sent my therapist a birthday card, took my dog for another afternoon walk, did laundry, changed the sheets on the bed, cleaned the bathroom, and mopped the floors. I have not been this productive in years. On a normal day- I am lucky if I do two of these tasks. What happened to me yesterday is nothing short of a miracle.

When my wife came home from school she was shocked to see the effects of my day. The house was clean, fresh flowers sat beside her bed, I was cooking us a decadent dinner and strangely of all I had a smile upon my face. “Wow honey! I love this you,” she said throwing her arms around me. “I love this me too,” I replied while directing her to the dinner table that I had set with candles, fine silverware and a bottle of organic red wine. “You should eat Chinese food more often,” she said and then we both laughed out loud. This was definitely unusual behavior.

After dinner that evening I noticed a pressure pushing against my stomach. This let me know that it was time to go to the bathroom. As much as you may not want to hear this part of the story it is a part of the story that must be told. As I sat on the toilet I had one of the smoothest, most prodigious bowl movements that I have ever had in my life. It was like I had done a colon cleanse. All the toxins that had burrowed themselves between my intestines came flowing out like water from the Nile. My body felt so effervescent that I felt that I might drift away. When I stood up I immediately felt the pain return to my lower back and the cynical heaviness return to my mood. I looked in the toilet at all that detritus and noticed a whitish fortune floating on top.

To spare my reader from any inappropriate details I will only say that I lifted the fortune out from the toilet and cleared off the print so that I could read what it said. I noticed that my chronic headache was starting to return and I suddenly felt a bit unwell from all the meat and wine I had just eaten. I looked closely at the fortune which said, “To know health, to experience health is a mans greatest wealth.” I was not yet able to make the connection between my day of vitality and health and the act of swallowing this fortune. Instead, I placed the fortune back in the toilet and flushed. I took a deep breath, came out of the bathroom and my wife took one worried look at me, dropped her smile and said,”oh boy- he’s back.”


  1. Remember, “health” can also be defined mentally, not just physically. You experienced the ‘wealth’ for 24hrs, didn’t you? 🙂 (wealth has yet to be defined, but do you see what I’m trying to say?)

    What a fantastic story.

    1. Yes..this is true Perovskia. I am starting to see that mental health might just be the foundation for physical health. This is why joyful, optimistic, carefree people such as my grandfather and grandmother can make it to 94 and 93 years of age after a life filled with smoking, drinking, poor eating habits and zero desire to exercise.

      Yes, wealth is a state of mind not a tangible thing. I see this. Thank you my dear for your thought provoking comment and the compliment.

      1. *smile* You’re more than welcome. You give me a lot to think about; so for those that seem to appreciate it, I like to throw it back now and then.

  2. Dear Randall,

    I love this you, too.

    I laughed out loud twice, and beamed through the entire second half. It’s entirely endearing that you poke fun at yourself in that last line: “Oh boy — he’s back.”

    If I were you — and I am not — I would feel perhaps annoyed that others have been made so happy by your having acted in ways which please them, your writing good-natured humor to make us laugh, and treating your wife and dog like minor royalty. I say I would feel that, I think.

    Please resist that impulse, Sir. It’s a base and corrupt thing, should you ever feel likewise.

    Fantastic, Sir. Cheers. I owe you a beer.

    Yours Truly,


    1. Yes! I will take the beer…….. and then buy you one! Your comment brought a smile and a “wow” to my glib, frowning face today. Thank you my friend.

      Oh, and I think I know what you mean about the impulse to be annoyed and eventually mean and disdainful because of pleasing others. I fight against this impulse often, it is a work in progress but I get as much out of exposing my demons and struggles as others get from my “pleasing” actions. It is a fair trade I think…but I do think I have a deep desire to be liked that often causes me to smile or be nice to those that I would much rather punch in the eye……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Now that I think of it maybe you have just discovered some deep well of my own personal struggle. I will think more on this- you ever think of becoming a Psychotherapist or Psychoanalyst? You’re good.

      1. Dear R.,

        Thanks for the compliment, but I almost married a therapist. I had to co-author all of her homework and papers at the university, because she did not read much and as a result could not pass her classes without me; her random spelling and atrocious grammar made her writing unreadable; so I got a sort of secondhand education in psych, and I must say, I’m famously against it. I spend much ink over at “In a Real World…” writing slander about the art of psychology. You gifted your therapist with a card, though, you wrote, so he or she must be doing well by you. I certainly allow that it can be beneficial, and one must be careful not to judge a school of thought by its malpractice or misuse.

        A punch in the eye? Wait . . . “Why do I smile, at peo-ple who I’d much rath-er, kick in the eye?” That’s Morrissey. That song was called, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,” ha ha ha ha ha! Oh, that’s rife. Please tell me you’re aware of it. Oh, too perfect.

        Maybe you should fire your therapist and start listening to some more-upbeat form of music, is all, ha ha.

        Ah, well — lemma know if you’re ever planning a trip to Southern California. Beer paid in full.



    2. Gosh I feel for you with all of that Psych editing. Jeeze I know what it is like since my mother, sister and aunt are psychologists and I can relate to your feelings about the field. I had never had a positive experience with a therapist but with my current one I have carved out a relationship with her that has strangely saved my soul. How the magic has worked I do not know- but it had been a redeeming process, so yes she is doing right by me. I think most of us go into fields that compensate for our struggles/short comings as young adults. Whimpy kids become body builders, emotionally damaged folks become therapists. There is the desire to solve our own personal struggles/trauma and be of help to others at the same time I think. Have you ever read “Going On Being” by Mark Epstein? Not trying to convert you just think you may enjoy his perspective. But again, I know what you mean.

      As far as the Smith’s song- I am VERY aware of it. I grew up on the lyrics of Morrissey, in fact I am still growing up on the lyrics of Morrissey.

      I will take you up on that beer offer the moment I step foot in Southern California. I would love to meet you- any man who can quote Morrissey lyrics is a friend of mine. Until then keep on with your brilliant/insightful writing……..

  3. I am alway amazed at what you write. Brilliant stuff. In my country no one speaks as openly as you. Thank you.

  4. That made me giggle.
    I get similar effects eating Chinese food but I just put up with it once in a while.
    I love seeing what nonsense comes up in fortune cookies; but the last lot we had each one as very appropriate to eat family member.
    What else will you end up eating next? You’ve already eaten your wedding ring?

    1. I have always enjoyed putting things in my mouth so the possibilities for swallowing various things are endless:) If I swallow something else I will be sure to write about it. I am glad this post made you giggle:)

  5. Thank you for the laugh. I enjoy Chinese food only because the visit means I dont have to cook for the rest of the day :).

    I wonder, what your wife’s perspective would be of incidents you have so far narrated.

  6. This had me in hysterics! Perhaps this was a weird kind of “magic” fortune cookie that provided all this energy until, of course, the final departure!!

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