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Wildwood 3.8.2006

By Rick Racela

“It’s poetry,” my buddy gushed as he read the words to his wife.
“In youth and beauty, wisdom is rare.”
“It’s a trap,” I countered, hoping I didn’t have to read something like it to my wife.
“If you agree that she’s young and beautiful, you’re telling her she’s a fool.
If you praise her smarts, you’re implying she’s an ugly old hag.”
One of life’s many culinary rituals that I don’t care for is the post Chinese dinner sharing of the fortune cookies.
While everyone else opens theirs to read and giggle over such innocu-ously sweet nostrums as “live each day to the fullest” or “dare to be different,” I invariably draw the one that advises “don’t quit your day job, mope.”
I don’t fare any better with the numbers posted on the other side of the fortune either.
Last week, for instance, my series of numbers matched those of a winning lottery ticket.
Unfortunately, it was the ticket for the Nebraska Power Ball, with its millions of dollars awarded a few weeks earlier to a group of meat cutters.
None of whom eat Chinese food.
I’m not sure what any of these numbers means, but if they have anything to do with winning lotteries, then they all add up to my being one “mope” who had better keep his day job.
Even the little smiley face that brackets the typical fortune comes out wearing a frown on mine.
My instincts told me to blame it all on the Chinese, who are gradually cornering the market on everything in this world, including apparently, any share of good fortune that might be intended for me.
But I found out that my instincts were wrong.
The Chinese are indifferent to me, being too busy trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records as the first nation with a population able to make one billion cell phone calls simultaneously.
Fact is, fortune cookies are an American invention, originating in Los Angeles around 1920.
Maybe my particular run of bad fortunes is the result of a factory defect, and not a personal one.
So I thought I would write to the factory for some information on how they concocted these fortunes and what kind of voodoo they used to assure that I always picked the lemon in the batch.
Now where in the world would a Chinese fortune cookie factory be located in this day and age?
Peking? Shanghai? Hong Kong?
How about good old Brooklyn, New York, home of the self-proclaimed world’s largest manufacturer of noodles and fortune cookies.
Maybe there’s some sinister secret fortune cookie ingredient that causes my fortunes to always skew toward the unpalatable.
But the typical cookie consists of flour, sugar, water, soybean oil, and lecithin.
Harmless enough stuff.
At least I’m not getting one of the legendary misfortune cookies from Madame Chou’s Restaurant in New York.
The first man to touch one of these fell on the spot and broke a hip.
The next guy who touched it walked out of the restaurant in a fog and was gunned down by a taxi.
Over 100 people came down with food poisoning the same day.
A Chinese restaurant in San Francisco, hoping to capitalize on the campiness of that story, tried to introduce the misfortune cookie to the West Coast.
Before the restaurant opened that night, the entire staff contracted food poisoning.
Even so, the restaurant did open and as a crowd of the hungry and just plain curious filled the restaurant to over capacity, San Francisco experienced one of its famous earthquakes, causing the ceiling to collapse injuring about fifty patrons.
No one ever got around to reading what the cookies had to say.
True story or just an urban legend?
Take it all as a word from someone old, ugly, and perhaps none too wise.
The next time you open your fortune cookie and the words tell you to buy a Wildwood condo from an entrepreneur-type from Brooklyn. 
***
The seventh annual Erin Express Pub Crawl takes place on Saturday as the Wildwoods “warm up” for St. Patrick’s day at the island’s assorted pubs, taverns, and saloons.
The bus leaves at 8 p.m. and will visit a number of establishments in North Wildwood and Wildwood.
Wristbands to ride cost $5 each and are good for the evening.
Proceeds raised go to the island’s three beach patrols for use in purchasing life saving equipment.
The bus stops at Mulligan’s, Michael’s Restau-rant, Juan Pablo’s, Sham-rock CafŽ, Poplar CafŽ, Woody’s Place, Casey’s on 3rd, Owen’s Pub, and Westy’s Irish Pub.
You can purchase your wristbands at any of the above named establish-ments.
***
Story time for pre-school age kids (and their parents) continues tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. at the Wildwood Crest library, 6301 Ocean Ave.
Call 522-0564 to find out more about library programs.
***
North Wildwood Zoning Board meets Monday, March 13 at 7 p.m. on the second floor of City Hall, 901 Atlantic Ave. North Wildwood planners meet tonight at 7 p.m. at the same location.
Wildwood City Com-mission meets tonight at 7 p.m. on the second floor of City Hall, 4400 New Jersey Ave.
North Wildwood Board of Education meets Monday, March 13 at 6 p.m. in room 206 at Margaret Mace School, 1201 Atlantic Ave.
West Wildwood Plan-ning Board meets Monday, March 13 at 7 p.m. at Borough Hall, 701 W. Glenwood Ave.
***
AARP Wildwoods meets tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Crest Pier, 5800 Atlantic Ave.
Guest speaker will be Barbara Agens from the Cape May County Zoo, and she is bringing a “mystery guest.”
All seniors are welcome. For information, call Donna at 729-3420.
***
Wildwood High School’s baseball team holds its annual fund- raiser breakfast on Sunday, from 7 a.m. to noon at Aqua Beach CafŽ, Buttercup Road and the beach in Wildwood Crest.
Tickets cost $6 and can be purchased at the door.
***
The Optimist Club of the Wildwoods hosts the 19th George D’Amico Memorial Basketball Tournament this weekend at the North Wildwood Recreation Center, 10th and Central ave-nues.
Boys and girls teams from Cape May County middle schools will com-pete in the event with proceeds raised going to support community youth programs and scholarships for local students.
The opening game takes place on Thursday at 4 p.m. and pits Wildwood against Dennis Township.
There will be games all day Saturday, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Championship games will be held on Sunday at 2 p.m. (girls) and 4:30 p.m. (boys).
In addition, the Gia Chiarella Cheerleading Competition will be held on Sunday, starting at 9 a.m.
Admission to the tour-nament is $2 for adults; $1 for students.
***
There will be a beef and beer for the Katz All Stars Competition Cheerleading Team on Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Bolero on Pacific Avenue.
The benefit will help the club pay expense incurred for the team to travel to Florida this month to compete in a national cheer-leading competition.
Tickets cost $20 in advance, $25 at the door. For advance tickets, call 780-5044. For more information, call 889-6777.
***
Performance poet Lamont Dixon returned to Margaret Mace School on March 1 to help students participate in the annual Read Across America and celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
Dixon, a native Philadelphian and teaching artist at a number of respected institutions in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, presented “Having Fun with the Cat in the Hat” to three groups of students from pre-school through third grade.
Read Across America is an annual reading motivation event that started in 1997.
Today, the program in-volves public schools throughout the US along with libraries, community centers, churches, hospitals, and book stores.

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