Friday, January 27, 2006

New Thing #23, China Olive: Supreme Buffet

I eat out a lot. Which is one of the reasons why I’d like to learn how to cook—so I don’t have to eat out so much. But, as things stand now, I’m still eating out on a regular basis. And there are basically, like, ten restaurants I go to, which rotate depending on my mood—healthy, junky, burgery, foreign, cheap, shi shi, whatever.

But today I decided: I’m gonna find a new place to eat lunch. I’m just gonna get in my car and drive around until I’ve found myself a new eating establishment.

So that’s what I did. I drove and I drove and I drove…(do you remember when you had to write essays in elementary school and the essays were supposed to be a certain length, like they were specified that they had to be “500 words” or something like that, and “500 words” seemed really really daunting, so you would cheat by writing things like “my summer vacation was very very very very very very very very very very very good. I really really really really really really liked it. We went to Big Bear and we drove and we drove and we drove and we drove until we were there.” Do you remember that trick?)…until I spotted a restaurant called China Olive: Supreme Buffet.

That’s it. That’s my new lunch eatery.

Now I know that the name of the restaurant sounds kinda shady. And it the name is kinda shady--so was the restaurant--but I didn't realize it was gonna be as shady as it turned out to be. I mean, come on--a restaurant called China Olive: Supreme Buffet? I shoulda stayed miles away.

What does “China Olive” even mean? And if you’re not in Las Vegas, are buffets ever a good idea? Probably not. Which means that “supreme” buffets that aren’t in Las Vegas are probably even more very much not a good idea. (Did I just lose my grasp of the English language? Did we all just witness it, right then and there? The end. Of my grasp. Of the English language?) (Wouldn’t that be crazy? If this really was it? The end? If something just *snapped* and I wasn’t able to formulate a sentence correctly anymore? Do you ever think about things like that? Sometimes I see crazy-ish people on the street and I wonder, was that something that happened gradually? Or was that person completely sane and able to formulate brilliant sentences until one day they just *snapped* and boom, crazyland?) (I’m all crazyland just thinking about it.)

So, today I had lunch at China Olive: Supreme Buffet. That was my new thing. And unfortunately, I don’t think I’m ever gonna be going back. The food wasn’t awful, it just…it wasn’t very good, either. (Which, I suppose, is how one would describe most buffets—except, well, now I sound like a snob who hates buffets, and that isn’t true at all. I love food + I love food in mass quantities = I love a good buffet. But that’s the thing. China Olive: Supreme Buffet was not a good buffet.)

Dear China Olive: Supreme Buffet, I’m sorry but I’m not going to recommend you to any of my friends. I’m sure you’re not losing sleep over my renunciation of you—after all, you were fairly busy this afternoon, so I’m sure you’re doing fine without me. Anyway, have a nice summer, and thanks for being my New Thing #23. Keep in touch (KIT!) and keep it real.

I was willing to give China Olive: Supreme Buffet the benefit of the doubt and assume that today was just a bad day for them, but then I got my fortune cookie and China Olive: Supreme Buffet was given a permanent seat in the dog house. Because, see, the fortune cookie was cheap. Do you know what I mean? Like, it was kind of yellowed and oldish and was probably a nickel cheaper than regular fortune cookies. And that made me mad because fortune cookies are supposed to be these groovy little tasteless-yet-yummy things that cleanse your palate after you’ve had a meal filled with strong tastes, you know? They are not supposed to add a new strong (bad) taste to your mouth. A fortune cookie that does that is effed up.

I had to eat half of the bad fortune cookie before I could read my fortune because that’s one of my superstitious rules involving fortune cookies.

Rule #1 of Fortune Cookie Reading: If you want your fortune to come true, you must eat half of your fortune cookie before reading your fortune. This, in effect, activates your fortune. Now, once you have read your fortune, we move on to:

Rule #2 of Fortune Cookie Reading: If you do not want your fortune—if you don’t like it and you want to reject it—then please, please, heed my advice and do not eat the second half of the fortune cookie. The first half of the cookie makes your fortune active, while the second half of the cookie makes your fortune real. Therefore, if you DO want your fortune to come true, then eat away.

(Have you seen that M. Night movie Signs? Remember how the whole finale hinged on the phrase “swing away,” which Mel’s wife had said to him after the car accident? Wouldn’t it be funny if she had said “eat away” instead? And then Mel had to eat the aliens?)

Anyway, today’s fortune is apparently gonna come true because I finished eating the whole cookie. I have never listened to the advice of Rule #2 and not eaten a fortune cookie if I didn’t want the fortune. After all, a cookie is a cookie. Even a bad cookie is still a cookie. Therefore, I eat.

My fortune today was so sucky, though. This is what the fortune was:

“You can do everything you ought to do.”

Now, on the surface this sounds okay. I can do everything I ought to do! Great—cool—rock on, right?

Except, no. No rock on. This is a lame-ass fortune. “Ought to” implies that you’re doing something you’re supposed to do, not something you feel passionate about, not something you feel in your bones. “Ought to” implies something you don’t “want to” do.

Like, for example, I ought to clean my room today. I don’t really want to, but lucky me: according to my fortune, I can clean my room. Oh, and I also ought to get the oil in my car changed. It’s not really very convenient, but hey—guess what? According to my fortune, I can get my oil changed if I really try. Oh, and another thing—

I was going to list more examples of things I ought to do now that I know I definitively can do, but I got tired of that game. Too often, fortunes in fortune cookies are lame. Fortune cookies ought to actually have fortunes printed on them. Fortunes that speak to a wish or a hope or a fear or a dream.

Like, this one: (wish fulfillment)

“Someone with blue eyes admires you.” (I actually got this fortune once and I think it’s a pretty good one.) (Who is this person with blue eyes?) (The tragic thing is that I’m color blind and I’m never quite sure what color peoples’ eyes are.)

Or another good fortune: (a warning)

“Be careful when you go to the bank tomorrow—there are going to be bank robbers there.” (Thank you, fortune! Now I know to wear my bullet proof vest.)

Or this one: (speaking to a fear)

“You will never be alone again.”

How does one get a job as a writer of fortunes for fortune cookies? Because, hey, the three I just listed above may not be perfect fortunes, but they’re sure as hell better than “you can do everything you ought to do” and I think I can write fortunes for fortune cookies, therefore I ought to. Do you hear me, fortune cookie manufacturers? You ought to give me a job, therefore you can. It was destined by the cookie.


Gina said...

ok, this is getting scary...i think you're my soul-mate in a completly non romantic, non sexual kind of way. You see, I also have a fortune cookie ritual. I HAVE to take a bit of the cookie before I read the fortune. Even if it's a tiny bite, it has to be done. I thought I was the only one...

Bonnie said...

Do you read The Rhetorical Letter Writer? Effin' awesome. I think you'd like it, if you're not already a regular reader.

Here's a link: link and the URL itself, in case my link didn't work, is:


Erik said...

Gina--if only we knew that we were non-sexual soulmates back when we dated in high school! Remember when you broke up with me? And then remember when we had that serious talk at Dietrich's and I drove away in a huff? If only my 16-year-old self could see me now.

Bonnie--I LOVE the Rhetorical Letter Writer. I actually discovered the Rhetorical Letter Writer through your blog about a week ago. It kills me.

Erik said...

Also, my letter to China Olive: Supreme Buffet was not nearly (not even remotely) as supremely awesome as the Rhetorical Letter Writer's letters are.

Michael Hartney said...

Note to self: never eat lunch in a restaurant with a colon in its name. Unless, of course, it's the sequel to another kick-ass restaurant.

Anonymous said...

ok, the scary thing about this particular entry is that I'VE always said I wanted to write the fortunes in fortune cookies! It's true! I wonder if it's a genetic thing? ...oh yeah, It's Ilene, your cousin, again!

Erik said...

Michael, I think you're right to not want to eat at any restaurants with the colons in their name. That's a good general rule to follow. If it's got a colon, stay away. However, you mention the whole "I will only eat at a restaurant with a colon in its name if it's a sequel to a kick-ass restaurant," and I'm wondering...what if it's a sequel to a not-so-kick-ass restaurant, but they're trying to be MORE kick-ass, and therefore they forged ahead with a sequel version. Would you at least give them the benefit of the doubt in that scenario. For example, what if Mickey D's came up with a sit down, fancy schmancy, healthy alternatives restaurant called McDonald's: Not So Fast Anymore. Would you give the place a shot? Or what if Der Weinershnitzel had a spin-off restaurant called Der Weinershnitzel: Bigger, Better, and Uncut! (Okay, that was a lame and easy joke, but I just woke up, so I made it.) Or, you know, if China Olive: Supreme Buffet realized that they sucked and worked at it and then came up with another restaurant called China Olive: Supreme Buffet: The Redemption, I think I would definitely--most definitely--eat there at least once, just to give them the benefit of the doubt, because at least I would know that they were acknowledging their suckatude and trying to improve their game.

Erik said...

Ilene, we should start up our own fortune cookie company...what do you think? Brilliant idea or brilliant idea?

Anonymous said...

fortune cookie (tina poppy) says: "you will find true love on flag day."

Erik said...

fortune cookie (erik patterson) says: "your next album will go platinum."

Anonymous said...

Erik, brilliant idea! Here's our first fortune..."Owners of new fortune cookie company make millions!" What do you think?...Ilene (Okay, so it doesn't apply to anyone else, but so what? Might as well boost our own morale!)

Erik said...

Ilene, that fortune could apply to other people if the fortune inspired them to start their own fortune cookie company. (In which case we would be creating our own competition! Zonks! Egad!)

Anonymous said...

Okay, so now you know why I'm not a millionaire yet! We must find something completely unique about our fortune cookie company! (That's why I'm not suggesting anything specific now where everyone can read it! It'll have to wait for when we speak!)