Daniel and I were wrapping up dinner at the Happy Wok. We had eaten our fill of fried rice mixed with everything but shrimp. Daniel likes shrimp, but “only on the side”. I pulled the plastic off a fortune cookie and handed it to him. Daniel extracted the ribbon of paper and read it intently. I heard a low “Yes!” from across the table.
“What does it say?” I asked. At first he wouldn’t tell me; he thought fortune cookies worked like wishes upon a star. Finally, he handed me the piece of paper.
“Do you know what that means?” asked Daniel gleefully. I had a pretty good idea. It doesn’t take much to start Daniel talking about all the things he wants. His flights of fancy tend to be non-stop normally; here he’d been handed an E Ticket. I tried to listen as I munched the stale bits of my fortune cookie, but Daniel’s verbal torrent kept threatening to overwhelm me in its rushed run-on sentences. As far as I could gather, Daniel’s plans included everything shown on commercial television mixed in with the car ads pulled from the pages of the Bargain Hunter we get when we go to Burger King. It was Christmas and his birthday and everything Meka or I have ever said “no” to. I finally had to cut it off. He hadn’t taken a breath in about eleven minutes and I was worried he’d pass out.
“Daniel, it’s good to have dreams –” I held up a hand to stop him; I knew “dreams” and “plans” were two different words. “But how are you going to pay for all of that?” Daniel explained he was going to be a “millionaire architect” and design the sort of buildings he’s always constructing in SimCity. I felt my attention drifting away with the tide.
“… and I won’t have to go to school…” I heard that. He felt the fortune would be enough to get some high-paying architectural commissions. In fact, it sounded pretty much like Daniel planned to have people to just stop by and throw money at him.
“You’ll probably still want to go to school, Daniel,” I said, “just in case the fortune doesn’t work out.” Daniel smiled. He had thought of that already.
“No, I can still be rich,” he told me. “If my plans don’t come true, I can just sue the restaurant!”