Several weeks ago, The New York Times published an article by freelance writer David Shaftel entitled, “Brunch Is for Jerks.” In it, Shaftel outlines the litany of reasons why he is completely and utterly against the celebrated weekend meal — especially the boozy rendition, which New York yuppies hold dear.
Shaftel sprinkles his paragraphs with proof of his New Yorker credibility. He includes that he is a 20-year West Village resident, gentrification aware (and averse) and devoid of nostalgia for “Friends” and “Sex and the City.”
But, aside from his conspiracy theory about mass-produced Hollandaise and general unhappiness for what he deems to be an impractical time frame for a meal, most of his grumblings are not about the food.
Rather, they're pointedly directed at the “well-off young professionals who are unencumbered by children.” Or, more simply, Millennials.
Given that Shaftel admits to having been a brunch-goer himself in his pre-parent, pre-age-40 days, his hypocritical arguments are evocative of the crotchety-Grandpa trope, “The music’s too loud.”
If brunch is, as he writes, “a twice-weekly symbol of our culture’s increasing desire to reject adulthood,” Shaftel is the college super senior who doesn’t show up at the frat party because he knows he’s too old. Instead, he bitterly watches the people have their stupid fun from his window.
But, I digress. Brunch is not a vehicle through which young people reject adulthood -- it’s how we preserve our social lives in the trenches of the bad hand the economy dealt us. Thirty dollars for huevos rancheros and endless Bloody Marys is, plain and simple, just a good deal for those of us "unencumbered by children."
Though Shaftel tries to frame brunch as a dangerous, gateway trend, it remains a harmless meal that is still eons closer to the domain of Easter Sunday than it is to cutting class and huffing paint.
So, when he questions how “something so fundamentally conformist can seem like the height of urban sophistication,” Shaftel is totally missing the mark.
The vast majority of brunching Millennials deliberately imbibe enough OJ laced with (what they are fully aware is) low-grade champagne to necessitate a Costco-sized carton of Alka Seltzer. Frankly, we’re not aiming for urban sophistication.
Shaftel can continue to ooze curmudgeonly sermons that only thinly veil his middle-aged FOMO, but I’ll continue eating my brunches — and drinking them, too. Here’s why:
1. Egg poaching seems too tough
Though this is undoubtedly a learnable skill that anyone with proximity to a grocery store and access to YouTube can tackle, it remains an enigma as perplexing as how the peanut butter gets inside those peanut butter pretzels.
While the elusiveness of poached egg production (and peanut butter pretzels) continues to evade me, I’ll bask in the joyfully deliberate ignorance of just ordering them on the weekends.
2. Going to dinner instead would cost twice as much (if not even more)
Shaftel prescribes brunch to be a Millennial display of conspicuous consumption, but back in reality, it's just cost-effective consumption. Beyond brunch covering two birds (breakfast and lunch) with one stone, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that dinner at any restaurant is a pricier alternative.
Just like happy hour specials capitalized on the once-was lull preceding dinner hours, brunch capitalized on the once-was cold pizza and Excedrin hours. If you build the deal, the childless social drinkers will come.
3. It gets us out of our shoe-box-sized apartments and into some natural sunlight
The enticing light of day that accompanies brunch can feel like reason enough to leave the dim, cramped apartments for which we grossly overpay.
Shaftel complains about homogenous hordes of over-indulged young people infiltrating his backyard (or as everyone else calls it, the West Village).
But, for many of these people (who struggle to lead gratifying lives that don’t wake with the stress associated with savings-account-snatching student loans), brunch is a medium through which we experience our aspirational lives.
4. It means that all day, you’ll only have to answer one tough question
…And that is, “Bloody Mary or mimosa?” We all — Millennials very much included — lead busy, oftentimes stressful lives. It’s refreshing to allow the debate of drink choice to feel as important as debating candidates for public office.
Furthermore, it’s refreshing to help ourselves — to socialize, to patron institutions in our respective cities and to live — rather than sit around and bemoan the soul-sucking reality of how frustrating life can sometimes be.
5. It’s something to do
The happiness quotient derived from sharing a meal in a festive environment is much higher than many other solitary activities that cost the same amount or more. For example, a movie, which doesn’t include nourishment or human interaction, costs a hefty portion of the amount brunch will set you back.
Sure, the widespread, collective embracement of brunch — along with all other trends and social phenomena in the history of man — is polarizing.
But, just like I didn’t care what my dad thought about my powder blue eye shadow in middle school (because ultimately, it was just eye shadow, not an indication of being a future high school dropout), I don’t care what haters think about my choice to brunch.
But, should eggs and pancakes ever become the demise of civilization as we know it, I’ll eat my words.