On a recent Sunday, my wife and I stopped off at one of our favorite after-church restaurants for lunch. It was closed, empty and dark.
We were blind-sided. Only the week before, we had gone through the buffet and chatted with the pleasant hostess.
A couple of months ago, for instance, I had pointed out to the hostess that when our fortune cookies came with the check, mine was missing its fortune. It was not a fortune cookie, I told her, but just a cookie.
“That’s good luck!” she replied. “You’re lucky.”
“It’s good luck to have no fortune?”
The restaurant itself must have gotten one of those plain cookies, because now it’s out of business. I hope the hostess and all the other employees found other employment. It’s always sad when a business closes.
After the workers’ welfare and our loss of a place to eat after church, I have another reason to mourn the closing of that restaurant. The chopsticks.
Well, the paper sleeve that the chopsticks came in, actually.
Until recently, I had a hard time using chopsticks; I would start out strong but soon develop a hand cramp.
“Why even bother?” my wife would say. “The fork, remember?”
“When in Rome,” I would reply, and pick up the sticks again.
Eventually I learned the trick without inflicting bodily harm.
The burnt-orange sleeve that those chopsticks came in was a delightful mystery to take in. It had Chinese writing, which I won’t even try to decipher. It also told me those bamboo chopsticks were a product of China.
Beside those Mandarin (I assume) characters was this: “Welcome to Chinese Restaurant. please try your Nice Chinese Food with Chopsticks the traditional and typical of Chinese glonous history and cultual.”
I loved that paragraph as I read it each time we dined there. It gave even more flavor to the fried rice, coconut shrimp and dumplings.
I often suspected it was written that way just to give diners something to talk about over their sesame chicken.
On the other hand, you have to expect a few things to get lost in translation when going from one language to another.
The odd thing is, on the flip side of the sleeve were diagrams and intricate directions for using the chopsticks when eating. That is where you expect trouble (such as the instructions packaged with a hair dryer that said, “Do not use while sleeping”) but that chopstick lesson was in perfect English, except for some missing punctuation.
For instance, the final step was, “Hold first chopstick in original position move the second one up and down Now you can pick up anything.”
I hope the best for the folks who provided those chopsticks each week. Their service was as good as their roast pork egg foo yong.
Reach Glynn Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.