Author: Jake Peterson
Neighborhood: El Cajon
I awoke from my daily nap a little later than usual that fateless Wednesday evening. It was pushing 6:00 p.m., and my tummy was howling for sustenance.
Unfortunately, the pantry echoed with emptiness, an indication of lazy bachelorhood. Now the question became: Where will I hunt down my evening’s banquet? Mexican, Italian, and Antarctican food were out of the question because I wanted to keep my dinner fresh, and also, I’d been eating these cultures’ foods just days prior. (Well, except for Antarctican — I made that up. My guess is that it’s just snow cones and whale blubber, anyway.) Then I had a sudden hankering for sushi, and dinner was decided. I donned my finest flip-flops, cargo shorts, and T-shirt and scurried out the door, sushi on my mind, my mind on sushi…
Upon arrival at Sushi Bar (located across the street from the Westfield Mall in El Cajon), I bellied up to the bar and ordered a Heineken to sip on while inspecting the menu. I’d been introduced to this particular place by “somebody I used to know,” and her memory haunted me as I glanced around the joint, but they faded when I heard the entrance bells jingle. In sauntered one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Her blond hair flowed. White doves flew up behind her. The music came to a halt. The room was wildly illuminated by her presence (in my mind, at least).
She nestled into a lonely corner booth. I lowered the chopsticks I was using to play air drums. Arbitrary thoughts dashed through my mind. This is a real woman…she has to be around my age, 26...she looks as if she has a career…I bet she has a wide collection of scented bubble bath soaps at home… I should go talk to her. No, she’s out of my league. Could she be the one, my future ex-wife? She’s alone, but what if she’s meeting somebody? What if she’s meeting her boyfriend? He’s probably a Chippendales dancer. If he sees me hitting on her, he’ll probably challenge me to a dance-off, and I will be defeated if it comes down to that, because my moves are far from Jaggeresque…
But the Chippendales dancer I’d made up never showed. The young woman remained alone, drinking her lemon water. As for me, I remained at the bar. I ordered a Philadelphia roll with another Heineken to wash it down — if I was going to talk to this dame, I’d need help from a bottle of courage — and I wondered what her story was, if she might have a thing for guys in their mid-20s who struggle to grow facial hair and who occasionally barter with an ice-cream sales associate to save 50 cents. I could only hope.
Time passed, the hourglass dwindling. Our meals were nearing their climaxes. I searched desperately for a last-minute sign or an opening. Then I remembered that a fortune cookie would arrive with my bill. Perfect, I thought. I will walk where the fortune cookie guides me.
The bill arrived, along with my cookie. I tore open the package and eagerly busted the cookie apart, only to find…nothing; no piece of advice, no lucky numbers, no fortune. The cookie was as empty as David Spade’s fan club.
I gazed back at the appealing woman’s booth, but she had vanished — she was gone forever. All I could do was hang my head and crack a smile at this state of affairs. I was left with an $18 bill and a smashed cookie that had held no words of much-needed dharma wisdom. I’d missed my encounter, and I’d missed my fortune.
Sometimes, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.