******SZECHUAN SURPRISE*****

[This piece has absolutely NO redeeming value. It is for entertainment purposes ONLY. Read at your own risk.]

Ok, I feel it necessary to inform you that (per the title) I’m not a really big fan of surprises. Startled people may cause injury to themselves or others. Surprised people can die of heart attacks. At the very least, shocked people may be prone to ruin a pair of shorts! Really, there’s just too much opportunity for things to go haywire with surprises. Nevertheless, life has an abundant supply of surprises: Good surprises, bad surprises….and every kind of surprise in between.

Good Surprise: Reaching into your pocket and finding a $20 bill.

Bad Surprise: Reaching into your pocket and finding a dead rat.

Better Surprise: Reaching into your pocket and finding TWO $20 bills!

Worse Surprise: Reaching into your pocket and finding a half pack of Circus Peanuts. [shudder]

How about the “awkward surprise”? This happens when your buddy gets one of those birthday cakes where the scantily clad lady jumps out….and “the scantily clad lady” turns out to be your high school math teacher. This “surprise” is compounded when you realize:

“Hey…wait a sec….I graduated high school 30 years ago!!!”

Also surprising: It seems as though Miss Cornblatt has spent some time in the gym.

“Hey Miss Cornblatt…what are you doing later on?”

“I’m heading over to the grocery store…wanna come?…and..please…call me “Sylvia””

[Moment of stunned silence]

“Hold on for a minute. Do you mean to tell me teachers go to the grocery store?”

“Yeah….what’s the matter?….you look surprised.” [rim shot]

For what it’s worth, the “awkward surprise” is better than the “painful surprise.”

Bad Painful Surprise: Walking barefoot and stepping on a carpet tack.

WORSE Painful Surprise: Walking barefoot and stepping on a LEGO.

If you’re a cat “owner” you’re going to be accustomed to another brand of surprises entirely: Cat Gymnastics at 2 am, Cat Acrobatics at 3 am, and Cat Relay races at 4 am.

Then there’s the “Cat Surprise” that keeps on giving. This is a little series of surprises I like to call: “The Parade of Carcasses”: SURPRISE!…a dead bird….SURPRISE!….a dead chipmunk….SURPRISE!…an almost dead something with green entrails oozing out of a selection of newly administered orifices.

“Thanks Mr. Mittens…this is just what I needed!”

As “dumb” as my cat is, he’s smart enough to sense my sarcasm. This is when Mr. Mittens will decide to drop off another little “surprise” in my shoe….Damn Cat!

I think the biggest surprise of all is that Mr. Mittens hasn’t decided to rub me out. I suppose I’m a goner once that disgruntled little fur ball figures out for himself how to operate the can opener. [shoulder shrug]

Here’s another event that has “surprise” written all over it: “The Pregnancy Test.”

Good P.T. surprise: “Plus sign” for married couple after “year’s worth of trying.”

BAD P.T. surprise: Plus sign for prom couple after “night’s worth of drinking.”

Perhaps you missed out on some of the surprises of life because your math teacher was ugly, you didn’t “own” a cat, your high school prom conflicted with a Star Trek Convention or you actually like Circus Peanuts. Don’t Fret! There’s still hope for you. Sort of. You can catch up on “The Surprise of Others” by READING ALL ABOUT IT in:

Books: “Cantankerous sea captain SURPRISED by pernicious whale.”

Magazines: “Subscribers SURPRISED by “50 things” they didn’t know about their lover.”

Newspapers: “Area man SURPRISED by pickle jar containing severed finger.”

Another “Brand of Surprise” thrives in the “cyber world” of rogue internet posts:

“Unsuspecting blog readers surprised by hypothetical question: What if God delivered prophesy through fortune cookies?”

Incidentally, the SURPRISE question: “What-if-God-delivered-prophesy-through-fortune-cookies?” illustrates yet another type of surprise: “The Stupid Surprise.”

Nevertheless, this mention of “God” might lead one to ask another question: “Can you find surprises in the Bible?”

Indeed. You can.

The apostle Paul and his buddy Silas are freed from prison by an earthquake…SURPRISE!¹

The prophet Jonah is freed from a [large aquatic critter] by “reverse peristalsis”…SURPRISE!²

Esther, the Jewish Princess, wins a beauty contest and saves her nation…SURPRISE!³

The Bible surprises us with miracle healings, inconceivable victories, and oddities of nature. There are blind people who see again, people who are tossed into fiery furnaces that live to tell about it, people who are raised from the dead, the future is predicted, the sea is parted, the sun stands still, poisonous soup is made edible, water is turned into wine, men go berserk, there’s a seven headed dragon, a leviathan, a behemoth, a flying scroll, a floating ax head, a burning bush, and a talking donkey!….There’s even a guy named “Boaz!”⁴-²³

Yup. The Bible is just one surprise after another.

Ok, stay with me for a while. I’d like to let my imagination run wild for a few moments. Let’s revisit the remarkable evening that Paul and Silas were locked up in prison and subsequently freed by an earthquake. I’d like to note that the Bible DOES NOT explicitly record where those two had lunch on that fateful day. Having said this…it’s possible..and I stress “POSSIBLE” that Paul and Silas could have dined that day at Macedonia’s finest house of Chinese cuisine. It MAY have been a place called “The Greco-Peking Dynasty.”

The Greco-Peking Dynasty was, of course, Philippi’s home of the famous “five-alarm, red-hot, extra-spicy, Szechuan, mini-gyro-eggroll”….All you can eat for 99 cents…Pitchers of water: 26 Drachmas.

Nevertheless, as I continue to let my imagination run wild, I picture Paul and Silas trying to figure out the “Drachma-to-Shekel”²⁴ exchange rate, when the waitress (Lurline) stopped by the table one last time:

“Here you go Sweet Things. Thanks for chowing down with us today. Have a couple of these here prophetic fortune cookies. They’re on the house!”

Again…supposing all of this WAS true, AND supposing those fortune cookies WERE indeed prophetic, would it be too much to assume that those fortune cookies would have had some kind of message regarding Paul and Silas’s upcoming miracle escape from prison? Perhaps they would have received a fortune that stated: “Man who know weak link will soon break every chain”.²⁵ Maybe Paul would have received a fortune cookie with this message: “Tonight, you and friend will shake, rattle and roll”²⁶. How do you suppose Paul and Silas would have reacted to a fortune cookie that read: “You talk at God…He ROCK your world!?”

So…yeah….THAT would have been kind of surprising!

I realize the idea of Paul and Silas eating at some place called “The-Greco-Peking-Dynasty” is a bit absurd…because, well, EVERYBODY knows that pitchers of water are WAY CHEAPER at “Hunan Palace-opolis” [rim shot/eye roll].

I suppose the reason I let my imagination wander like this is because I like Chinese food so much. The only drawback with Chinese food is that Chinese food (in and of itself) is ALSO one surprise after another. I have no idea what I’m eating. I’ll be wolfing down some carry-out from “The Garden Fountain” when I bite into some sort of battered-dipped, deep-fried “something,” only to discover it’s a chicken foot!

SURPRISE!

At “The Chinese Place” you’ll find menu items such as “The Panda Surprise”. I’ve never been brave enough to ask what the “surprise” is in “The Panda Surprise”..but DANG!…It sure is good! It must be that sauce that makes it SO delicious.

I was, however, once brave enough to ask what “Moo-Shu-Pangolin” was. The girl behind the counter cheerfully told me: “White people call it ‘scaly anteater’.” These days I tend to stick with egg rolls and a chef specialty.

No matter what Chinese place you eat at, be it “The Silver Dumpling,” “The Hong Kong Wonton,” “The Bamboo Moon” or “The Shanghai Duck”..at the end of your meal, OR MORE LIKELY, at the bottom of a greasy bag with a giant happy face printed on the side of it…you will discover your very own fortune cookie.

Sadly though, today’s fortune cookies aren’t really “fortune” cookies at all. Today, “fortune cookies” might better be described as “proverb cookies.” Sometimes they’re just “statement” cookies. “Fortune” cookies today say things like: “Man who cuts self shaving; lose face,” “Error 404; fortune not found” and “Bird in hand make it hard to blow nose”. Perhaps this is useful information …but, PLEASE! These AREN’T FORTUNES!

Nowadays, the closest thing you get to a “fortune” from a fortune cookie is something that sounds a lot more like a daily horoscope:

“You are one with many talents”. Well, I can juggle and work a Rubik’s cube…I guess those ARE talents.

“Taurus soon leave you”. Hmm, I WAS planning to sell my old Ford, so I guess that one is kind of true.

“Loneliness on you horizon”(sic). Yeah, I AM a little lonely too. I guess that’s a fulfillment of prophesy. However, I’m lonely today because nobody wanted to come eat with me at the “Spring-Pagoda-Express-Wok”….but, truth be told, NOBODY came with anybody else either. In fact, I’m the ONLY one in the restaurant!

You see, business has been a little slow here at the “Spring-Pagoda-Express-Wok” (or “SPEW”, as the locals call it). A while back they were dealt a “set-back” of sorts from the health inspector. It turns out, the only “healthy” thing the inspector found at this place was its “infestation of vermin”. I’m here today for the “Grand Re-Opening Celebration:” 75% off the “All-You-Can-Keep-Down” special….so far so good!

Of course, I’m also here for that coveted fortune cookie.

I realize that “The Fortune Cookie” is meant for “entertainment purposes only”. I also realize that “Amalgamated Asian Confectionary” (and its subsidiary holdings) cannot be held liable for information that may (or may not) be misconstrued as “factual”…but WHAT IF fortune cookie messages WEREN’T a joke? What if God really WAS speaking prophesy through “THE FORTUNE COOKIE”. Picture it: The Prophet Balaam (You know?…the one with the talking donkey). He’s riding his donkey toward Israel when he stops by “The Lucky Dragon” to order a “Number 49” (with extra fried rice). Then he receives this fortune cookie message: “Tomorrow, you be humbled by dumb ass”.²⁷

SURPRISE!

What about Jonah? He went through hell and high water (Large aquatic critter/[slash] ocean) to avoid a mission that God had laid out for him. If only Jonah had been paying attention earlier in the week when he was enjoying some sweet and sour pork at “The Golden Chopstick”. That’s when I think he may have gotten THIS fortune cookie message: “You go to Nineveh! You proclaim Monarch’s fury at people: “They wicked long time”.²⁸

Jonah certainly illustrates that God may choose some unexpected ways to do his work…but it should be no big surprise that, one way or the other…God’s will is going to be done.

It should also be no big surprise that God doesn’t [typically] deliver prophesy through fortune cookies.

(Sigh)

Perhaps one day God MAY choose to speak to me through a fortune cookie. If He does, I hope to get THAT fortune cookie from my favorite Chinese Carry-Out: “The Szechuan Noodle” (at the corner of “Chow” and “Maine”). Maybe if that were to happen I’d get a fortune that reads something like this:

“You go cause infidels to no longer be infidels! Splash water on fresh adherents in name of Master, Male Offspring and Devine Specter”²⁹

Yeah, THAT would be a pretty big surprise all right!

Of course, the BIGGER surprise will be NOT ending up in a straight jacket after I post this piece. [eye roll]

Like I said earlier: Lots of opportunity for surprises to go haywire.

Regardless, posting this piece is worth the risk. Hopefully “unsuspecting blog readers” are surprised at their ability to “Smile and Be Changed.” :-) *

¹ Acts 16:25–34
² Jonah 2:10
³ Book of Esther
⁴ John 8:43–44
⁵ Judges Chap 7
⁶ Matt 8: 23–27
⁷ John 9:1–16
⁸ Dan 3:25
⁹ John 11:43–44
¹⁰ Isaiah 53:1–12

¹¹ Exodus: 14:21
¹²Joshua 10:13
¹³ 2 Kings 4:38–41
¹⁴ John 2:6–11
¹⁵ Judges 15:3–5
¹⁶ Revelation 12:3
¹⁷ Job 3:8
¹⁸ Job 40:15
¹⁹ Zechariah 5:1
²⁰ 2 Kings 6:6
²¹ Exodus 3:23
²² Numbers 22:28
²³ Ruth 2:1
²⁴ I realize the Drachma wasn’t around then…Just go with it
²⁵ Acts 16:26B / 2 Corinthians 12:9
²⁶ Acts 16:26A
²⁷ Numbers 23:28–30 / 2 Peter 2:16 KJV
²⁸ Jonah 1:2
²⁹ Matt 28:19

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Convicted sex offender living in Federal prison finds Jesus; retains sense of humor while under misguided notion that he’s still relevant to society

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Convicted sex offender living in Federal prison finds Jesus; retains sense of humor while under misguided notion that he’s still relevant to society

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