Monday, February 23, 1998

The Fortune Cookie Fribble
by Selena Maranjian (

"You will be awarded some great honor."

"You will be unusually successful in business."

"You like Chinese food."

Who among us has not snapped open a fortune cookie, read the fortune inside, and chuckled? Fortunes may seem harmless and fun, but in reality, they're un-Foolish. In fact, they're downright Wise.

In fact, they're even worse than Wise, promoting lotteries by printing lucky numbers on the back.

"Your lucky numbers are: 3 14 40 33 2 13."

Is this how they expect you to get the pile of money they often say is headed your way?

Think back to the Elizabethan days. Imagine a king. In his court are his advisers. And what do they tell him? What he wants to hear, of course.

"You are one of the people who 'goes places' in life."

"You will have no problems in your home."

"You are going to have a very comfortable old age."

What right-minded adviser is going to risk getting his head lopped off just to tell the king that his subjects hate him? Or that he's screwing up? It's far healthier to just play it safe.

"You have a friendly heart and are well-admired."

"You are headed in the right direction."

"You will always be successful in your professional career."

In this royal setting, there is one person who does tell the truth, and this person is the Fool. (What's that old saying? "If you can keep your head when others around you are losing theirs, you're most likely a Fool"?)

Imagine if Fools ran fortune cookie factories. The conclusion of meals at Chinese restaurants would be a bit more somber, perhaps. A lot more constructive, for sure.

"You are going to have a very comfortable old age, if you tend to your financial garden now."

"You are headed in the right direction, as long as you're not frantically day-trading, dabbling in futures and options, and buying into last year's best-performing mutual fund."

"You will be awarded some great honor by your descendents. They will build a monument to you in gratitude for the wealth you accumulated and passed on to them. And for the fine Foolish example you set."

The possibilities are endless.

"You have a friendly heart and are well-admired for sharing Fooldom with your friends."

"Your lucky Dow Dividend Approach stocks this week are: IP, DD, XON, T.

"You like Chinese food." (Okay, perhaps not everything needs to change.)

If you're ever in a Chinese restaurant and get a fortune reminding you to compare your investment performance to a benchmark like the S&P 500 or to not pay the bill with a credit card unless you're going to pay off the credit card bill in full at the end of the month, look closely at the cookie. It might have rolled off the line at the Fool-Yu Fortune Cookie Factory.

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