To Lanterns, Denver, and One Last Lament

reporting from: Los Altos Hills, CA

My parents' friends didn't want any of their fortune cookies. I ate four.

Only one of the cookies actually delivered a fortune.

"You will travel far and wide for both pleasure and business."

Another cookie kissed my ass.

"You are the master of every situation."

"Get your mind set…Confidence will lead you on."

That's kind of a fortune, but it requires me to get my mind set for the confidence, so it's not exactly fate at work.

"Every man is a volume if you know how to read him."Um, okay…


My father is the insurance agent for all the employees at Chef Chu's, a Chinese restaurant in the Bay Area. Our family knows Chef Chu and his staff well.

I went to dinner with my parents and their friends Friday night at Chef Chu's. We sat at a table on the second floor.

My parents and their friends spent ten minutes discussing two restaurants called Super Buffet and Crazy Buffet.

—Crazy Buffet offers lobster tail!
—No, that's Super Buffet!
—Crazy Buffet is cheaper!
—Super Buffet's food tastes better!

Halfway through our meal, I noticed that nearly all of the rest of the tables on the second floor were vacant but set up for more guests.

Near the end of our meal, the intended guests arrived.

Lo and behold, it was the entire (top-ranked) UCLA men's water polo team, fresh off a win against UC Santa Barbara in the conference championship tournament at nearby Stanford University.

Within minutes, the second floor was full of water polo players and their family members.

Of course, my parents and their friends took notice.

—Look at how tall they are!
—Oh they're so buff!
—That's because you need a lot of upper body strength to play water polo!

Lawrence Jr. — Chef Chu's oldest son, the restaurant manager and a UCLA alumnus — came upstairs to welcome the coach. Then he walked over to me and said, "They're all going to do the eight-clap (school spirit deal) later. You should join in."

[pause]


Saturday night, my brother's friend's parents treated me to dinner for driving their son to the airport in September.

The restaurant they picked was…Crazy Buffet.

Aside from all-you-can-eat frog legs and baby octopi that looked like human fetuses with tentacles, the buffet wasn't that crazy nor was I that crazy about its food.

Three times during our meal, the restaurant speakers played a cheesy pop version of "Happy Birthday." I half-expected the UCLA men's soccer team to suddenly appear and sing along.

Next time I drive someone's child to the airport, I'm requesting Super Buffet.

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