"You will spend many years in comfort and material wealth."

Not so fast. Before you start making retirement plans, the "you" I’m talking about is me, not you. Get your own Chinese takeout.

Comfort and material wealth — that was the promise delivered via my little cardboard cookie. Finally, my troubles are over!

The thing with fortune cookies, of course, is that they tend to tell us we want to hear. "You will win the lottery"; "you will be reunited with an old friend"; and "your self-cleaning oven will finally, in fact, clean itself and will clean out the linen closet while it’s at it." These assurances tend to buoy the old spirits, but they’re not real.

I’ve consumed so much Mandarin chicken over the years that I should be bilingual by osmosis, but I have yet to be rewarded with anything but upbeat predictions. "Your in-laws will be moving in with you on Tuesday" doesn’t have the same feel-good ring. "Your multiple listing service doesn’t look like it’s getting better anytime soon," while true, might have me reaching instead for a Happy Meal tomorrow. The truth hurts.

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