Thursday, August 24, 2006

The future's so bright...

There's a Chinese food restaurant here we like to go to. The menu is exactly the same as those of the other seven (yes, really) Chinese places in town, and the food is what you think when you think Americanized Chinese: bathed in grease, most of it served in pools of unnaturally red sweet sauce.

But homemade kim chee comes out first. And the pork potstickers are homemade and thick and browned to a crisp on the bottom. And because we ask, we get hot oil and a soy and green onion sauce to dip them in.

W. and I always go in the afternoon, on a whim, when the place is nearly empty and the owners have time to show us the pictures of their last trip to China. He cooks; she waits tables. They worked 11 hours a day, seven days a week until last year, when they decided to take Tuesdays off.

They know what we like and always bring us an extra cup of hot-and-sour soup, even if we only order one early bird special. (That's $3.95 for soup, wontons, fried rice or chow mein, and entree--so hold the early bird special ridicule.) When asparagus is in season, they sometimes bring us plates of it, fried like onion rings and sprinkled with salt.

We drink tea, read the United County realty brochure, and dream of buying 100 acres in small-town Iowa.

But yesterday's lunch was a little disturbing. My fortune cookie had no fortune. I had a brief moment of utter panic when I snapped the cookie in half, like this was a portent of some terrible thing.

W.'s cookie? Also fortune-free.

Quick superstitious visions of car crashes, fires. "At least we'll go at the same time," W. said.

But instead, we thought, maybe we are heading for something so new, so unknown, that there are no signposts, no clues. Just the blank page of the unknown.

Or maybe our cookies just happened to be fished out of a bunk bag and half the town is worried about their future.

(Can't say I'm not still just a little creeped out.)


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