When I was a child, after Sunday church my parents would take my sister and me to IHOP, dressed in our Sunday best. I was so excited, it made church worth going to. The thought of having dessert for breakfast was fabulous and I couldn’t believe that my parents actually let us get away with it. But every time we went to IHOP I ordered the same thing, waffles with strawberries and Cool Whip on top. I mostly ate the strawberries and cool whip and left the rest on the plate. Pretty soon my parents picked up on it and said if I didn’t eat the waffle part, they wouldn’t let me order it again.
In high school, Mom would make us hot cereal, mostly cream-of-wheat or oatmeal for breakfast. My eating patterns had changed and I could barely stomach any food before noon, otherwise I felt nauseous. I started ditching the cereal and had Diet Coke religiously every morning for breakfast. My junior year in high school, my English teacher Mr. Loewe asked “Is that all you have for breakfast?” “Yep,” I replied. “That’s not the healthiest way to treat your brain, Laurel.”
In college at UCSB, I lived in the dorms and had the unlimited meal plan at the Carrillo Dining Commons. This was a very bad idea. I went from eating one full meal a day to three-plus meals. Had to get my money’s worth. Every morning before my 8am class, I had a large bowl full of yogurt, granola, bananas and honey. I washed this down with a large, whole milk vanilla latte. I thought I was eating so healthy until I went on the scale and saw that I had gained about thirty pounds. I’m sure the 3am pizza deliveries didn’t help either.
In my adult years, this new term “brunch” started circulating around. Originally it sounded like a good idea, combining two meals into one. By nature I have a productive personality, so I saw this as step up in mealtime efficiency. But I partook in one of these “brunch” events and was sadly disappointed. Organizing who to invite, where to meet, what time, and then arriving at the “brunch” establishment only wait for about another hour or so, starving and irritable, took all the juice out of me. At the end of the meal, I was full and tired. I went home and took a nap, only to wake up for dinner time, eat again, and then go to bed. Wait a minute. So if you’re a working girl like me, and you have two days off during the week, this meal called “brunch” basically takes up an entire day of your two days off. Forget this.
I decided I didn’t like “brunch” and when I moved to San Francisco I stuck to my large Peet’s coffee and Noah’s salt bagel with lox shmear for breakfast on Chestnut Street. Friends would ask me to join them for “brunch” and I’d tell them I’d either already eaten, or that I’d meet them afterwards for coffee. Instead of spending my entire day around one meal I preferred my Sunday schedule of coffee-bagel-volleyball-hike-powerbar-pedicure-target-laundry. Much more productive in my opinion.
Just when I’d successfully established myself as a “brunch-hater” I moved to New York City. I started meeting people. They started asking me to “brunch.” I wanted to make friends and be polite, so off I went. I decided to give this “brunch” another try. I was equally disappointed. And now not only was there the time waste factor, there was the weather factor.
Once I got a pedicure and rushed off to meet new friends for “brunch” at Blue Ribbon Bakery in the West Village. It was twelve degrees out. I had flip flops on. We had to wait outside the restaurant for an hour and a half. People started staring at my feet and gasping. I started staring at my feet and gasping. They were turning blue, I couldn’t feel them. I wasn’t in California anymore. I excused myself from the group, stumbled inside, and jumped up and down to get my feet circulation back. “Brunch sucks” I told myself.
The following Christmas, my prayers had been answered. My always-creative sister, who remembers my stories, got me a custom tee-shirt. It was lavender and in bold red letters said, I HATE BRUNCH. Thank you God. No longer did I have to come up with excuses, lie, ditch, or sit through that excruciating experience ever again. All I had to do was wear the tee-shirt.
Boy was I wrong. Apparently, people here in NYC take their “brunch” very seriously. I proudly wore my shirt to work at MTV one day, walking down the hall, silently smirking as I noticed co-workers reading my chest. They stopped me. They started asking why. I told them why. They couldn’t believe it. Arguments pro and con started happening, people gathered, in the hallways, in meetings, in my cube, in the ladies room. Fierce words were exchanged. Oh man, this topic was more political than I originally had thought.
The pros? Drinking unlimited bloody marys, mimosas, fabulous florentine eggs, hooray for corned beef hash. Okay, like to drink, no I LOVE to drink. I think we all know that. But daytime boozing puts me in bed by 5pm, and eating all that food at once, frankly makes me naseous. It’s not for everyone!!
So here I am. I live in NYC, I hate brunch, but thankfully I still have friends and they don’t discriminate against me. Occasionally they try and dupe me by asking me to lunch on a Sunday, but I know better and I respond with a polite “call me when you’re done, we can go shopping.” Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good Bloody Mary and I pride myself on making some of the thickest, spiciest around town. And I don’t have to wait for Sunday to drink them. As for Cool Whip? Okay, I’ll admit, I do still dabble in that.