Wednesday, May 7, 2008
I don't do brunch.
For years now, brunch has been a source of aggravation for me. Whether I was attempting to go out for it with my then husband or worse yet actually serving the meal to a bunch of dumb clucks; I detest brunch.
I remember working in Chicago’s Lincoln Square at Café Selmarie; a renowned brunch destination and provider of ulcerative colitis for Ms. Van Poppelen and her last nerve.
We would set up for an hour before opening and sure enough at about twenty minutes to 9am, pedestrians would start lining up outside the locked doors like it was a Zeppelin concert. They impatiently rustled their newspapers and stared us down with empty eyes and hollow souls that they were going to try and fill up with banana walnut pancakes. There would be an incredibly intense moment, much like a glaucoma test, where things were eerily quiet in the cafe. The wait staff, bus boys and cooks would all exchange a knowing glance, hail Mary a few times, and watch as the host would walk toward the door to unlock it for the amassed crowd.
Pop! Like a pressurized vacuum seal, the entire aura of the morning was flipped on its ear, trampled by hollandaise hungry mammals pushing and shoving their way into the cafe to get a coveted seat in the tiny room. People wouldn't even be sitting down and the barking of requests from customers would begin; competitively determined to get their order in before the person next to them could.
The brunch patrons scoured the menu like heat seeking missiles aimed at the savory food selection du jour. Angst thickened if someone in a party was lax about choosing and the aggressive leader of the affair would shift uncomfortably in their chair and offer up suggestions. "I've had the huevos rancheros here before--they're amazing. The ricotta strawberry waffles are to die for. Why don't you choose? Huh? How about we make a choice here, Bonnie--pick up your game, for god’s sake. This isn't lunch, this isn't breakfast, this is BRUNCH you twat, and we're getting behind!!!"
I’ve never understood the need for 14 beverages to properly enjoy a meal, but apparently that is another aspect to brunch that people love and it makes me bristle. “Yes--- I am going to need a mimosa, a bellini, a bloody mary extra spicy with pickles, large orange juice, a decaf skim latte, lots of water no ice but I will take extra lemon, a quart of maple syrup with a straw, some crude oil in a pan, the blood of a virgin served in a goblet, and that ought to do it!”
People act like brunch is a relaxing and fun way to spend a morning. I think these lunatics also enjoy Disney World, Times Square, and the dentist for their leisure.
I used to wake up on Sunday mornings during married life. A little voice in my head would say, "Brunch? Is this gonna happen again?" You see, when you get married, an idiotic switch goes off in your head that thinks going to brunch or housewarming parties and the like are going to somehow be bearable now that you have someone to suffer through it with you. Wrong.
Each Sunday would start out with high hopes for hubby and I. He hoped we would do activities together and I hoped he would leave me alone and let me sleep. After receiving the usual withering speech about him working a 9-5 job and wanting to embrace his precious days off I would reluctantly drag my body out of bed, throw on an ensemble and the pointless sojourn would begin. We would ritualistically drive up and down the same stupid strip of our neighborhood that we drove down the week before and the week before that.
"The Daily?" "Nah." Bad Dog?" "Gross." "Milk and Honey?" "Too far." "Deleece?" "Expensive". "Well what do you want?" "I'm not hungry." "Well why the hell did you come out for brunch?!?!" "You made me." "I didn't make you do anything!"
Usually within 5 minutes I would get dropped off on the side of the road somewhere as hubby squealed away to go find an eggy meal and angrily eat it by himself while I walked home alone.
Now that I have been divorced for about 2 years and dropped the waitressing gig, you'd think awful brunch incidents would diminish. Not really.
I now reside in New York where brunch is even more of an atrocity. Brooklyn is rife with uber trendy cafes all roughly the size of a crawl space, vacuous bohemian parents with strollers the size of farming equipment rolling over you like a monster truck, and pancakes starting at $15 with no upgrades.
All of my adult, coupled friends think I want to come join them for this slice of hell. They're chirpy, energetic and excited about life because they've chosen to have a normal one and you know what goes great with healthy relationships?!? Crepes!
I usually get the call around 10am on a Sunday. Said couple has been up for 3 hours already, ran a 10K, did some spackling, and are showered and ready for brunch at Dizzy's! I on the other hand just got home from Saturday night about 4 hours ago and am full of Jamaican beef patties and whiskey. My body aches as though I worked out but it's just my liver and pancreas exacting their revenge.
Said couple wants to know, would I like to join them for brunch? Well, if brunch consists of aspirin and more sleep, then yes!! Count me in!
Oh wait, brunch is going to be a loud, crowded event that is going to magnify all of my poor life choices as I surround myself with passive aggressive people who have money in their bank account and love in their hearts? Pass.
Now don't get me wrong, I like breakfast. In fact I LOVE breakfast. There is nothing better in the world than a wild night of drinking that leads you to Chicago’s Diner Grill on Irving. You pull up a seat at the counter and the owner/short order cook makes you some corned beef hash, French fries and an egg sandwich for $6 while you sip some black coffee and snap out of your stupor. No frills, no special menu---it’s been printed on the wall for the past 20 years--- no marzipan stuffed anything in sight. Try to order a drink with champagne or pomegranate in it and someone will break your nose. You crank the juke box full of Willie Nelson tunes and drunkenly dance with your pals not worried about losing your seat. There's usually at least one person in there missing a limb and not a baby in sight because it's 4am----the way a dining experience should be.
Now that my friends, is worth being awake for.