Today in the New York Daily News, with enough time to give you plenty of room for discourse prior to your Benedict-and-Bloodies date tomorrow—say, 1-ish? No sense having to get up too early!—Alexander Nazaryan writes that we need to get rid of brunch, because brunch is, he says, ruining America. I think he's at a least partly serious, even if he's also trolling the adamant circle of brunch-goers and aligning himself with the scattered vocal people who hate brunch, who do not get brunch at all.
Once upon a time, this writer used to brunch. (Brunch as a verb is far worse than brunch as a noun, isn't it? They're both bad, but the verb connotes a certain laziness of spirit and indulgence that seems almost synonymous with the act of brunching.) Still, every once in a while, someone will co-opt me into going to brunch, and as I don't consider myself inherently anti- or vehemently pro-brunch, I will go. It's just a meal, so it's more dependent on who it's with and whether or not I want to see them. I'd just as soon call it lunch, or "burgers," or the twee "grabbing a bite." (What are you grabbing? What are you biting?)
But brunch as a word, well, it seems...full of itself. It is full! Have you seen the biscuits, the hand-rolled sausage gravy? It's more fancy and high-falutin' than breakfast, less stable and tuna-salady than lunch, and certainly lacking the heft of dinner. Supper wouldn't even talk to brunch, I don't think, because brunch would be drunk and supper would be eating soup and celery and going to bed early, as supper does. Poor Brunch! He or she has been tainted by the judgments of so many—we all have thoughts about brunch—and perhaps, like other overused words artisanal or organic (things you might meet at brunch), people are just tired of it, or it's grown nearly meaningless. We mustered a lot of energy about those so-called Brunch Wars in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, recently, and that turned out to be mostly a story about gentrification, not about eggs, not about war.
Ah, that's the thing. Maybe the problem with brunch as a word, as a "behavior," is exactly that! Gentrification, fouler than brunch, but part and parcel of the same. Or, as Nazaryan writes, "Brunch is a ritual that is corroding the soul of America. Brunch is decadence, served with a side of bacon. Brunch is national decline, slathered atop French toast." There are real things happening to real people in the world, he says, and we're sloppily guzzling mimosas and getting day-drunk and hulking up on our fries dipped in hollandaise sauce (brunch is très intercontinental!) He writes,
Think of all those hours you have spent in pointless conversation, hours that could have been spent writing a novel, helping the poor or curing illness. All possible on Sunday morning.
Even if you accomplish nothing more than lolling about on some grass with your dog, he says, you could just be human, and not go to brunch. "You know who hated brunch? Tolstoy. Also, Amelia Earhart and John Wayne," he writes. "I am just making that up, but I am nearly sure that no person of significance has ever said these words: 'Are the blueberries in your artisanal granola locally foraged?'" Brunch is a gentrified, First World reality, and therefore it's a First World problem. So, stop brunching, goes the argument.
No one's really going to stop brunching, though, as much as brunching as a verb galls, too. As more and more people are born into this (First) world, we're bound to keep meeting each other on Saturdays and Sundays and ordering eggs and coffee and mimosas and calling it THAT THING. But it's not brunch's fault, exactly, it's just a sad little hybrid of lunch and breakfast; it doesn't really fit anywhere, hardly has a place of its own in society. It really only gets to come out on weekends and occasionally on holiday Mondays, when, surely, it's embarrassed by all the sudden attention, the fawning, the exaggerated excitement. That's probably why brunch tends to drink too much on those days.
But given all of the faux-raged backlash we should probably admit that no one really hates brunch. Brunch in itself is powerless. If we're going to hate, we hate, instead, what brunch says about us, about our culture, about our imminent decline into self-indulgence and waste. Brunch is the new Ladies who Lunch, which leaves a bad taste in our mouths, and we truly despise the way that word sounds, BRUNCH, sort of like bunch, crunch, or a hunch, cramming munch in your craw, rather like animals. If we called it "drinking coffee and eating eggs when our hair is sort of dirty but also kind of looks good like that, don't you think?" we'd be a lot more fond of it.
Of course, no one's making you go to brunch; you could always sleep in a little later and stick with lunch. Or possibly even dinner. From what we hear, Tolstoy adored dinner. Just call it a meal and be done with it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.