Metro 98

Friday 17 Jan 2014 
My wife and I had ordered a Chinese takeaway and I was delighted to see the restaurant had given us three fortune cookies. What could be better than a biscuit that tells your future? Even if it’s bad news, you still get to eat a biscuit. I don’t know if I should trust biscuits after all the harm they’ve done to me and my waistline but they’re so tempting and persuasive. And following the advice of a biscuit is probably as efficient as any religion or philosophy.
I thought I’d ask the cookies a question and see what they came up with. As I cracked the first one, I said: ‘Will me and my wife be together forever?’ It was a risky opening gambit but if our marriage isn’t going to work out, it’s better to know sooner rather than later.
The biscuit spoke: ‘Keep cool and keep smiling.’ I was a little bit disappointed as I’d hoped for an unambiguous yes or no answer. But was the biscuit wiser than I had imagined? Was it telling me how to keep my wife happy? If I keep cool and keep smiling, then we will last the distance. If I ever lose my cool or let my smile drop, then we’re doomed.
That’s quite a big ask. Being cool is hard enough (especially for me) but to never stop smiling… won’t that look weird? And a bit creepy? What if my wife informs me all her relatives have been killed in a bus crash and I just remain cool and keep smiling? Won’t that make her angry?
So I took the second delicious and prescient oracle and said: ‘Can you advise me further?’ It read: ‘Listen to your intuition, it will help you.’
Now the biscuits were taking the p***. I can listen to my own intuition without paying the exorbitant fees for cookie-based counsel. If my intuition was any good then I wouldn’t need to turn to a biscuit for life schooling, would I?
I gave it one more try. ‘Can you be more specific?’ I whispered. The third and last biscuit certainly took me at my word, returning with an unexpected: ‘British Telecom has made a mistake. You will get a rebate.’ It didn’t exactly answer my question but it was still impressive. Especially given these cookies had presumably come from China. Some people say fortune tellers rely on spouting vague platitudes that can be interpreted in a variety of ways. But there’s only one way to read that.
Worryingly, BT hasn’t traded under the name British Telecom since 1991 (how old were these cookies?) but I’ve always had my phone line with them, so who is to say some ancient mistake won’t be noticed and rectified?
When I told my wife the news, she seemed very excited and hugged me. Perhaps the promise of this unexpected reimbursement will be enough to keep our relationship strong. If she has any doubts about staying with a man who enjoys picking the skin off his feet and plucking his nostril hair on the sofa, then the unsubstantiated promise of a life-changing (maybe) £35 will surely supersede them. Those wise biscuits had not only provided me with the answer I wanted but the means of preserving the relationship. The promise of this rebate is going to keep us both going through the ups and downs of married life. Once the money arrives we could, of course, decide to call it a day. But we’ll walk away with a cool £17.50 each. No wonder they’re called fortune cookies.