Un-Fortunate Cookies

Dear Mom,

During my freshman year in college, you and Dad were on campus for a board meeting. After a fancy dinner you stopped by my dorm to bring me a little bag of desserts from the hostess. Among the coconut meringues, the mini-chocolate éclairs and cherry tarts, a handful of fortune cookies had been tossed in like afterthoughts. These became the favorites. My roommate and I read the fortunes and decided we could write better messages than the originals. Soon we were laughing so loud that other freshmen on our floor joined in.  As the night wore on, the fortunes got worse and worse, especially the ones we wrote for unreasonable professors, ex-boyfriends, or anyone who had done us wrong. (What happened in the dorm that night stayed in the dorm. We zipped our lips, agreeing not to repeat or send the fortunes.)

It’s hard to write good fortune cookie messages. Recently HuffPost Comedy posted “The Most Ridiculous Fortune Cookies of All Times.” Here are three of my favorites from their long list: 1) “Help! I’m being held hostage in a Fortune Cookie Factory.”  2) “Something wonderful is about to happy.” (sic)  and 3) “Come back later…I’m sleeping.” (Yes, cookies need their sleep, too.)

Your great-grandson Gannon offered to write some fortunes for you, Mom. I think they’re very good for an 8-year-old third grader, especially since he carefully wrote each one in a different color:

(Click on Gannon’s fortunes to enlarge them)

Fortune cookies are fun desserts, Mom, but you never took them seriously. They were like horoscopes, you said, interesting to read but not reliable instructions for our personal lives. You pointed out that each horoscope applied to about 1/12 of the world’s population, and fortune cookies were mass-produced and randomly distributed.

But if I could give you just one fortune cookie with a message especially for you, here it is:  “You will live A Wonderful Life!”  (Your own life, and not Jimmy Stewart’s in the movie.)

You’re one of a kind, Mom, and I love you.    Marylin


For Diana Bletter’s  interview with Marylin Warner, go to her blog, The Best Chapter.  http://thebestchapter.com/2012/10/28/everybody-needs-an-ideal-reader/#comment-785                                                              ___________________________________________________________

Could this be the fortune in your cookie?
“You will take the road less traveled.”

Here’s a sweet one: “You will eat AMAZING
Halloween cupcakes.”

Or how about this fortune? “You will be stalked by
strange pumpkins.” (All photos by Marylin Warner)


Filed under art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren

40 responses to “Un-Fortunate Cookies

  1. juliabarrett

    You, my dear, sound like a chip off the old mother block. I know your mother would have gotten a kick out of those unfortunate fortunes. I see a new business in your future….

  2. Another great piece. Those pumpkins are strange indeed – and quite scary in their way. I’ve added your blog to my blogroll.

    • Thank you, Ellen.
      The pumpkins were a last minute addition to the lineup for this blog. Both Gannon and his sister Grace raked the leaves and filled the bags–not at all the typical Halloween pumpkins–but they really liked them.

  3. I loved the third grade fortune cookies–especially the flu shot one and the shoe one. Made me smile. 🙂

  4. dianabletter

    The photo of the road not taken is beautiful. Plus, Gannon’s hand-written fortune cookies are priceless.

    • The road not taken is part of Brown’s Park in Abilene, KS. It’s at the end of a large wooded area our family has nicknamed “Sleepy Hollow.” The area is rich with old stone bridges and forgotten paths, and hiking there nudges something in me. I come up with surprising writing ideas after a jaunt in Brown’s Park, Diana, regardless of the season.

  5. Alice

    What a sweet gift in ever-so-neat handwriting from Gannon. And look at those cupcakes!

    • We ate the cupcakes after the photos were taken, Alice, and I’ve got to be honest: the art was better than the taste.
      We’re all proud of Gannon’s careful, precise handwriting. For an 8year old who loves soccer, baseball and football, he’s also a sweet little guy who loves to do nice things like writing fortunes for his great-grandmother.

  6. How about: “Your thoughtful messages (and Gannon’s) will touch fill your mother’s heart with love.” Gannon’s messages are very sweet. I also love the “road less traveled” message and photo. (That’s one of my favorite Robert Frost poems.)
    P.S. I sure wish you kept some of those un-fortunate cookie messages from your college days. It’d be well worth the giggle to part with that secret now.

    • Oh, Judy, what happens in the dorm, stays in the dorm. But after ALL these years, maybe…no, I just can’t. (Actually, I can’t remember any of them all that clearly. We were just a bunch of students seeing who could come up with the most offensive fortunes. The things we do when we’re young…)

  7. I never got to college Marylin, joining the army at 15 and I was stationed on the South coast of England while my mother was in Scotland, she did manage to visit twice the second time of course my passing out parade. Never been a fan of fortune cookies and still today I always leave them unopened on the table or in the carrier if a take-away.

    I do like Gannon’s fortunes though but you can tell him this old grand dad still can’t tie his shoes and always wears slip ons and I got my flu shot a couple of weeks ago xxxx

    • Molly


      Gannon will be beyond thrilled to know that there are other people who share his thoughts on shoes not needing to be on the right feet, or tied correctly! 🙂

      And although he hasn’t gotten his flu shot yet, he doesn’t mind getting shots, or blood drawn….he is kind of “in awe” how it works, so he might just be jealous that you have gotten yours!

      Thanks for your thoughts on the blog, I always enjoy reading your comments!

    • Gannon will love this, Tom! He’s finally learned to tie his shoes, but if he’s in a hurry (and he almost always is in a hurry), they’ll be tied right, BUT they’ll be on the wrong feet.
      I can only imagine the stories you could write, Tom, about being 15 in the army in England while your mother was in Scotland. I hope you’re writing some of the stories, at least for your grandchildren. And you could share some some them with us, too!

  8. Molly


    This blog turned out so fun and light hearted. Gannon will love seeing his “fortunes” on the computer, along with the pumpkin bags that they filled. Although, he and Grace will probably be upset that they didn’t get to sample the gorgeous cupcakes….

    I believe that Grandma’s fortune is perfect for her (and also 1/12 of the population)…but she is something so special, that is for sure.
    We had such a fun visit with you here. Thanks for the fun. Love ya!

    • Thanks, Mookie. This has been such fun.
      There’s something wonderful about watching my grandson so carefully write messages for his great-grandmother/my mother. She won’t know what this means or how we’re all connected, but we’ll know and remember for her.

  9. I love Gannon’s positive “fortune” sayings.
    For an 8-year-old, his hand writing is better than most adults.
    Your mother offered some wise advice.
    Great post, Marylin! 🙂

    • Thanks, Tracy. This was Gannon’s premiere appearance on the blog, and he worked so hard on this. My mom would be proud of him if she could connect these fortunes with the darling little guy who is her great-grandson.

  10. delightful post, and brilliant Gannon! oh my, Marylin how wonderful to pass on this joyous memory and new tradition! 🙂

    • It gives me so much joy, Roxie. When Grace and Gannon go to visit their great-grandmother, even though she can’t quite figure out who they are, they know who she is and just wrap her in love. It’s very sweet, and how memories are created for the next generation.

  11. Please let Gannon he did a fabulous job, and his great-grandmother would be so proud, I’m sure. 🙂

  12. Those ridiculous fortunes are hilarious! My kids have yet to make up their own fortune cookies, but sometimes I make one up for my 4-year old when he asks me to read his, since he can’t read yet. I always try to make one up that relates to that specific day and he always looks at me with a blank stare, shocked to hear it. Then, he always goes, nooooo, it doesn’t say that. So I read him the real fortune, which more often than not, tells him he’s going to be happy in his own age. He’s not very impressed then…

  13. Sounds like fun. I love the #1 choice (hostage in a cookie factory) as well. Fortune Cookies are as good as Crackerjack, really. 🙂

    • Better, actually, even when the fortune doesn’t make sense. (You can always pass it on to someone else, and while they’re confused you can sneak some of their Crackerjack. Kind of full-circle entertainment!)

  14. I have a cousin named Gannon– unusual name for a very smart boy. If he’s going into the fortune cookie biz to support you, better get it in writing now. My mother-inlay has no idea who her great grands are, but she loves being around them. I guess they can remember live a lot longer than names and relationships. You’ve given me an idea for a new party game 🙂

  15. I have lunch with a friend at a Chinese restaurant once a week. Our pet peeve is fortunes that are not really fortunes but proverbs or nice sayings (Gannon does a MUCH better job). One tradition we have is declaring that “the fortune we get today will govern our lives until we get the next fortune cookie.”

    • Thanks, John. Some of Gannon’s are big hits–like predicting you’ll learn which shoe on which foot–so his sister hopes he goes into this full time. When he reads your comment, Gannon will be thrilled.

  16. Very perceptive site and a good post. Thanks!

  17. Congrats for the inspiring site you’ve created at https://warnerwriting.wordpress.com. Your enthusiastic take on the subject is absolutely inspiring. Thanks again!

  18. 9/5/2016 Love the site– extremely informative and lots to consider!

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