A long time ago, when America was new, there were once three separate meals for the nutritionally minded citizen to spend her time and money on. Breakfast began the day; lunch provided something to look forward to just as the hours were getting long; and dinner signified the start of the period of time wherein one tried not to fall asleep on the living room couch. Though there was some variation -- supper for dinner, or an outlier called "tea" -- for the most part, there were three, and they were good.
And then along came brunch. In my opinion, things have been going downhill ever since.
Brunch didn't used to be all that bad. In 1895, Guy Beringer coined the portmanteau to describe a way to make Sundays brighter for "Saturday night carousers" (read: drunk bitches). As William Grimes quotes in a 1998 New York Times article,
''Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting,'' Beringer wrote. ''It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.''
Again, by "cobwebs," one must assume that Beringer meant "hangover."
This, to me, is brunch the way it was meant to happen: After you and your fellow garbage pile friends all awaken in a heap that smells like stale beer, you drag your sad butts to the nearest eating establishment to grunt at each other over the biggest pile of grease on the menu. The phrase "artisanal" is never mentioned, and nothing costs more than ten dollars at the very most. If you are partaking of the hair of the dog what bit you, it is out of a paper bag. (Either that, or it's Mother's Day and you're wearing a crinoline.)
That's the way to, per Beringer, "sweep away the worries … of the week." By contrast, brunch the way I have come to know it these days, with its two-hour wait times and Food as Art, only piles those worries on.
If you haven't figured it out by now (or don't know how to read headlines), I hate brunch with a fiery passion, and here is why:
1. Unnecessary logistics. If you're planning to meet friends for a meal, why the hell are you making everyone get their asses out of bed at nine on a Sunday? I work a whole lot during the week, so any extra time I can spend with my boyfriend Mr. Mattress is time well spent. Plus, brunch tends to require Tables for Twenty, and you know no one ever brings enough cash for reasonable splitting. For some reason, the sight of four debit cards and a pile of ones inspires a level of ire in me that is only heightened by the early hour. And sure, we could get up later, but then we risk …
2. Giant lines. I know Brooklyn likes to tout itself as Queen of Brunch, but as far as I can tell from my two-year stint in the Bay, San Francisco is springing for the crown. On any given Sunday in the Mission, you cannot throw a craft beer bottle more than ten feet without accidentally clonking a hipster in the dome while he becomes Mayor of The Toast Line on Foursquare. When you are still trying to swallow down the taste of the last shot from the previous evening, every minute becomes agony. Unfortunately, every place in possession of a dozen or more eggs instantly acquires a half hour waiting list, and sucks for you if you just wanted to grab a snack before summiting Mount Laundry. I don't make the rules, man.
3. Stupid food. I recognize that this is basic pettiness at work here, given that veganism is my choice and I don't particularly like to make people work around my dietary requirements. But guys, come on. Even at places with vegan options, I'm still basically paying out the nose for what amounts to a block of tofu and some sriracha sauce. I recently went to a brunch place in Chicago that kindly made me a vegan plate. It consisted of a pile of sauteed onions and spinach, and it cost fifteen dollars. And if I did eat the broad range of animal products, I'm sure that my cheapskate, non-tasting heart would balk at shelling out for some meat shapes that I'm just going to pour hot sauce on anyway. Can't we just go get burritos and eat those in the park instead?
4. Stilted conversation. Is it just me, or does brunch often become the catch-all meal for when you kind of want to spend time with people, but not enough to actually make real plans with them? Although I've certainly eaten a fair amount of brunch with close friends with whom I had a lovely time, I still automatically associate it with the sort of invitations you extend to, say, that girl in your painting class who looks kind of friendly! Or a dude who lived on the same dorm floor your freshman year of college who happens to be in town! Any resulting discomfort is even further heightened when you add a single outlier, whom you've invited along as a gesture of good faith, to a group of already tightly knit friends. Even if it wasn't awkward, the format of brunch -- brightly lit, in a crowded room where people have to shout to be heard -- makes it so.
This also applies to morning-after one-night-stands. Brunch is the perfect length of time to realize the magnitude of the mistakes you have made.
5. Day drinking. Speaking of mistakes being made, I am still at the point in my life where I can be peer-pressured into buying a bottomless mimosa for ten bucks and then trying to "get my money's worth." Oh, I had things to do this Sunday? Guess I'll cancel those plans in favor of collapsing facedown on my mattress and eating a bag of tortilla chips for dinner. (Note: While I do endorse day drinking on special occasions, such as weddings or any sort of event that involves being naked in public, I find that brunch encourages heavy midday intoxication on an alarmingly frequent basis.)
6. Cuts into lunchtime. Sandwiches are the Lord's food, and I resent any meal that eats away (ha) at their spotlight time. Don't you dare try to tell me that brunch is a cross between breakfast and lunch, because we all know the only lunch part of brunch is the fact that it generally takes place around noon. Get out of here, omelets! This is Soup Hour!
In conclusion, brunch is dumb, and I truly hope that our cultural bond-instinct moves away from gathering around a table at ass-o'-clock on a Sunday and eating stupidly fancy food. That said, please don't stop inviting me. The only thing worse than going to brunch is hearing about the great time everyone else had at brunch.
Kate is eating salad for breakfast at @katchatters.