What happens when you open your fortune cookie, only to find there is no fortune there?

Today was just another Friday… in some other normal world, anyway…

We ate at our second favorite Chinese restaurant tonight. For some reason, Elijah freaks out whenever we go there and refuses to eat and crabs and whines the whole time. I don’t know what his problem is.

While we were eating, an old man and his wife came in. He was haunched over and had a cane. He started barking! He was barking at Elijah, who, of course, had his back to him. He was not paying any attention. Steve and I were trying to smile. It was kind of funny, but moreso when Elijah noticed the man. He turned around and looked at him for a second, then laughed and smiled and growled back… long and low.

The man wanted to know what Elijah’s name was – and you know, I feel really weird when strange people I don’t know ask me what my kid’s name is when they really have no reason to, but I told him. “Elijah,” I said. “What?” he said. We repeated it, someone behind me said, “that’s a good name.” Then the man said, “well my name’s ‘Caliga.'” What were we supposed to do but laugh like it was the funniest thing we’d ever heard? Elijah lost interest and turned around to the table again. The whole time, the man’s wife was just mortified, she kept calling him by name (I can’t remember it now) and saying, “come on!”

The man’s wife finally got him to move on and they were seated at a table diagonal from us, next to two ladies who where there when we got there, but were further from us. I heard him say to the younger, “Hello! And how are you?”

Steve got up to get some food from the buffet and while he was gone, Elijah suddenly let out a little whiney “whaaaa-haaa-haaa.” Nothing serious, just a whiner. The man, now seated, answered back, without turning around, with a large growl type of sound. Elijah spun around as fast as he could with a huge smile on his face and growled back… really loudly.

You know, my kid counts. In English. And Spanish. (Thank you, Dora the Explorer.) And maybe, I discovered tonight, the only way to get him to eat is to line up about five pieces of food and count them. I did this with some fried okra, to try and keep him from screaming while we finished our meal. He then counted them himself then grabbed #2 and popped it in his mouth.

He started chewing and Steve and I looked at each other, hopeful that maybe he’d eat something for supper after all. Steve said skeptically, “you know, that’s okra in there?” Of course I knew it. His grandma (Steve’s mom) gives it to him all the time and he eats it. Of course, I have come to the conclusion that he must be trying to score brownie points because apparently all I can get that kid to eat besides sweets and cereal is Spam and cheese and the like. Do not even mention the word “whale” in this kid’s presence. Or French Fry.

Anyway, my hopes were all dashed as this strange look came over his face. He started gagging – and really, it’s quite funny now – but then it was kind of scary – but now I realize he was not actually choking, but putting on an “ew gross” show. He spit that stuff everywhere, and though I caught most in a napkin, some landed on his pants. He then freaked out about that and tried frantically to get it off of him and on to the floor. He’s like that. A clean natured child at heart, I think. Did I ever tell you about the time the lightning bug was on my hand and he freaked? Yeah he hit my hand until it flew off. Then it landed on his… and then he really freaked out.

So, well, maybe that’s not the best way to get him to eat, after all.

Meanwhile, the old man is still chatting with the young girl next to his table. From this conversation, even I learned all about her. She does have a boyfriend. She’s going to our local community college in the fall. She wants to be a nurse. She wants to work at this big popular hospital in St. Louis. Etc. I’m just glad he didn’t ask her about her sex life.

Finally, they brought our check. I sent Steve to pay with the debit card so we could get out of there. I opened my fortune cookie to find, “Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time.”

And then, because he never eats them anyway, I opened Steve’s. There was no fortune. What’s that mean anyway?

And that, my dears, was one very long half an hour out of my life. Time is indeed, precious. But what is the truth in this? Kids will drive you mad. And so will old men who think they’re funny.