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Truth in the corner of your eye

Sometimes, the real message is not what’s written

Posted: August 17, 2012 6:00 a.m.
Updated: August 17, 2012 6:00 a.m.

Now, I don’t credit fortune cookies with any more power to predict the future than I do horoscopes. However, I always enjoy reading both, if only to see just how far off the mark they are, or just how vague they can be … you know, vague enough so that those fools of us who read them might imagine there is some truth there and actually think they were written by wise wizards in tune with the universal vibration.

So, imagine my chagrin recently when, after jealously hoarding my fortune cookie until I’d bloated myself on multiple helpings of Chinese food, as I finally cracked open this nugget of nonsense and glanced at the message, I read: “Your life is preposterous.”

Now, my first reaction was to think to myself, “Say, you don’t see that one much.”

My second reaction was to wonder how they knew me so well.

My third reaction was to grumble out, “Why, that’s just rude,” and take another look.

This time I read it more carefully: “Your life is prosperous.”

And this time my reaction was: “Well, that’s more like it. But they couldn’t be more wrong.”

However, all this got me to thinking. My first laid-back look at that fortune, kind of out of the corner of my eye, had observed what was actually typed there, but my mind had added in as much spin as my inattention allowed it to.

Could it be that here, in this freewheeling “mind’s eye,” or “third eye,” is where pure self-awareness, cosmic prediction and even psychic ability lie?


But maybe it wasn’t a look through my third eye that clued me in. Maybe, just maybe, the fortune in that cookie was charmed, like it would be in a Harry Potter episode, and it would be personalized, just at first glance, for whoever cracked open the cookie. After that it would quickly rewrite itself into triteness so that subsequent readers wouldn’t catch the secret message.

Now, if the fortune had actually used the word “preposterous,” I would have cried “Foul!”

You see, at one point in my life I intended to go into the Misfortune Cookie business — where every printout was an insult or a prediction of bad luck. I just never got the financial backing necessary to get that grand idea off the ground.

And so, if my cookie’s suggested fortune had, indeed, used “preposterous,” it could only mean that someone had stolen my business plan.

But let’s get back to the core issue, which is that I saw “preposterous” when the word was actually “prosperous.”

True, they are somewhat similar words, so my mind’s accessorizing wasn’t too much of a stretch. However, when I consider it deeply, well, my life is preposterous — ridiculous, outrageous, unbelievable, absurd and laughable — and all in a magically good way. And I gratefully accept the reminder the universe sent me.

On the other hand, my life is only prosperous when compared to third-world nomads living in a prolonged drought.

Now, while my encounter with word-swapping was humorous and enlightening, I can imagine this sort of thing could become a problem if it occurs too often — whether you create the malapropism or misinterpret what is being communicated to you by someone else.|

I mean, consider…

“The police have, indeed, comprehended two auspicious persons.”

It could happen, right?

“Politicians understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.”

They just won’t admit it.

“Women’s problems … you know what I mean, groinecology.”

Sounds like Yogi Berra.

“He used to perform in a traveling menstrual show.”

A job’s a job.

“She was queen of the women’s lubrication movement.”

God bless her.

“This is his last will and testicle.”

Well, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

“I’m not a pessimist, I’m an optometrist.”

It’s good to see yourself clearly.

“He passed with flying carpets.”

Well then, he cheated.

“He was a vast suppository of information.”


“Having one wife is called monotony.”


“Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock.”

Everything in moderation, my friends.

“The Native American squabs carried porpoises on their backs.”

That just seems physically impossible.

“In the spring, salmon swim upstream to spoon.”

When they wake up in the morning, they spawn.

“It’s in the first book of the Bible, Guinnessis.”

I’ll drink to that.

“In the Middle Ages, pheasants led terrible lives.”

Don’t they still, with all that hunting?

“It is kisstomary to cuss the bride.”

Especially if she’s your ex.

“King Alfred conquered the Dames.”

You go boy.

“Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis.”

Oy vey.

Remember, I always enjoy righting for you folks. It helps keep me between the limes. And we’ll do this again soon. Comment at or at

Yes, after an intense lobbying campaign by, well, two or three of you, my Don’t Take Me Seriously columns are back in Escape, where they first took life, and where readers won’t mistake them for political opinion. And, we aren’t through with the changes here, my friends. Big things are coming, so keep an eye out.


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