Love is where you find it
Mmmm, the last bite of Beef Lo Mein slid gracefully down my throat. I relished the flavors still fresh on my tongue. Looking down, I saw the remnants of what was a huge plate of noodles beef, and sauce, only moments before. I leaned back and sighed. This was my once a week treat to myself, I loved the food here.
While I let my dinner settle, I looked out the window beside me. Nice neighborhood, I lived within walking distance. It was always a nice, quiet place to live for an inner city area.
My attention returned to the table I sat at. The waitress had cleared my plate away and left my bill in a dish with a fortune cookie. I usually passed on the cookie but I couldn’t resist looking at the fortune. I broke the cookie in half and the rectangle paper inside escaped the opening I made. It fell to the table. Picking it up I could see this one was different. It was handwritten.
What in the world? I had to read it several times before my eyes could be pulled away long enough to quickly scan the restaurant. It said, in very masculine handwriting: Date me? 555-5555. I guess it really wasn’t a secret I was going through a ‘dry spell’. This was a cruel joke though. How in the heck did they pull it off?
The following week I returned to the Ming-Ming’s, like clockwork. Sitting in my favorite booth, I looked over the menu. It never changed and by now I have had most of the things on the menu I would consider eating. I decided on the Sesame Chicken. As I waited, I dug through my purse for lip gloss. I ran across the rectangle piece of paper from the fortune cookie. I scoffed and crumpling it up. I tossed it on the table.
My meal came and I again enjoyed every morsel. While waiting for my bill I noticed a man sitting in the opposite corner of the restaurant. He was intent on something in front of him on the table. I tried to see what he was doing but from this far away, it was impossible.
The waitress came with my bill and the inevitable fortune cookie. I couldn’t help myself I had to see if this would be a normal fortune inside. Cracking the cookie in half, I scrambled for the paper inside. It was handwritten again, I love you, please call me 555-5555. Well this was just silly! I tossed the paper on the table. I quickly paid my bill and left.
I stayed away from Ming-Ming’s for several weeks. I met a girlfriend at Tony’s Pizza Emporium, sure the pizza is good, but I missed the Asian fare. My friend, Donna, was telling me about events in the neighborhood that were coming up. “Chinese New Year! I don’t know what animal it is this year but they ALWAYS have a great street party! We so have to go, Karen.”
I hold up my hand and shake my head while I tell her about the fortune cookies at Ming-Ming’s. “So, no thank you, I won’t be going to that.”
Donna laughs at me and wants to know more about the handwritten fortunes. I tell her that’s all of it. I even tell her I think the odd guy in the corner has something to do with it, “Maybe he’s writing them.”
“So he’s your secret admirer?” She teased.
“I don’t know!” I punched her in the shoulder lightly. “I sure hope not, I mean, I don’t even know what he looks like!” We have a good laugh then talked about her new job. Soon it was time to go and we parted ways.
Donna called me a week later, insisting we meet some friends at the Chinese New Year street party. Since it was within walking distance I could hardly refuse, and I hoped it would fun.
Donna arrived at my apartment and we walked the few blocks to the festival. Then we began looking for our other friends.
We could hear the firecrackers before we got there, but nothing could prepare you for the pageantry of the fest. The colors were brilliant and flowing, the movements mesmerizing. The welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth was a breathtaking sight. The Lion Dance started, he not only ushered in the New Year but evicted evil spirits from the premises. The music was intoxicating, making you want to dance.
Donna ran over to some friends that had just arrived. My attention drew back to the Lion Dance as the Lion chased the Evil Spirits. One particularly Evil Spirit headed right for me! As he passed by me he swooped down and lifted me up. He lifted me to his lips and kissed me. He quickly placed me back on the ground.
“Why didn’t you call me?” He asked.
The Lion was hot on his tail and before I could answer, the lion chased him away. I couldn’t believe my ears! Was this the author of the fortune in the cookies?
My friends were all laughing after seeing what happened to me. I told Donna what the Evil Spirit said. She thought he might be the author of the notes as well. We planned to go to Ming-Ming’s the following day.
After work Donna stopped at my apartment and we walked to the restaurant. We ordered and then looked around the restaurant at the other people there. There was just a couple one table over from us and two young girls in a booth on the other side of the room. The man in the far corner seemed very intent on whatever it was he hunched over.
“Donna, I’m going over there to see what he’s doing.” I said rising from the table. Donna said nothing.
As I got closer I could see he was an older gentleman. He scribbled writing on small rectangles of paper. I knew this couldn’t be the man who kissed me, but I was sure he would know the man who did.
I sat down on the other side of the booth and the old man’s head came up in surprise. He looked at me questioningly. “Do you speak English?” asked. He stared blankly at me. I looked down at the fortunes spread on the table. “What’s this?”
Again he just looked at me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement and I looked to the side of the old man. A man had stepped from hallway and stood next to the old man. Our eyes meet briefly and I looked away, but not before I noticed his attractive face.
“It was me…I’m sorry. I wrote the notes to you…” the man says.
I look up at him again. “Really?”
He sits in the booth next to the old man. “My name is Bolin, I see you come here all the time. I cook for you every time. I take extra care when I prepare your food.” He pauses and looks down. “I’m shy and I’m only bold when I am an Evil Spirit.”
I reached across the table and touched his hand. “You kissed me?” Bolin nodded his head.
Donna had approached the booth we were in and said “I think you owe this man a date!”
Bolin looked up smiling and I nodded my head.