—Saturday, August 6, 2011—
Brunch: The adorable, always fun to have around, and just plain well loved member of the Meals family. Wholesome in its timing, but fun in its inclusion of alcohol. Always laid back and fashionably late, Brunch is definitely a fan favorite. Nothing messes with Brunch and it doesn’t bother to cause problems for anyone else.
I was the only person in the world who didn’t get along with Brunch. I wanted to think that this date would change that, but it was not off to a good start.
Waking up well past my alarm’s first rings, I knew right away that I was going to be late. The project was starting to make me look like an irresponsible idiot.
I ran out of my apartment without taking a shower. All I’d done was rinse my hair in the sink and give it a good towel dry. It was noticeable that I hadn’t showered. What a great way to begin my day. “DAMN YOU, BRUNCH.”
I texted Ruby to tell her that I would be five minutes late. According to Google Maps, I would be five minutes late. I really hoped Google Maps was telling the truth.
Oh yeah. And there was this, which I figured out while standing on the platform:
The date was going to be a financial failure. In the red for sure. I had made a reasonable investment, but managed it poorly, and I was going to lose it all.
I had purchased a Gilt City deal for brunch at this spot in the West Village. Thirty-two dollars for two bunch entrees and unlimited drinks. However, I didn’t print out the voucher and I couldn’t redeem it by showing it to them on my phone. I knew this because I called them from the platform and checked.
Fuck. It was going to be an expensive brunch. Why must you hate me, Brunch?
Without the voucher, I didn’t even have a good reason for picking the restaurant where we’d be brunching. It was arbitrary, expensive and I didn’t even know if it was any good. Dammit. I was going to look so stupid if the place sucked. Brunch, don’t let me down!
It might all may have been karma though. I had ranted about my disdain for Brunch before, when I attended a wedding which was centered around the meal. I’d gone into even more detail when speaking with friends, so it was fair to say that a few choice words may have made their way back to Brunch and now it was just kind of fucking with me.
“Listen Brunch,” I said to myself, “I’m sorry for the things I’ve said. I promise to be nice to you if you just help me out this one time. Let this date go well and I’ll never say a bad thing about you ever again. Please?”
Just as we passed under the East River, the train slowed to a crawl. I was watching the minutes tick by. Ten minutes. No, 15 minutes late. I should have waited the five minutes for a cab. I was such a shithead. Why didn’t I just get my ass up on time and make the whole thing easy? Not possible. Instead, I started my day with Brunch laughing in my face.
I don’t know if I put too much pressure on myself or not, but if I’m waiting on a date for ten minutes, I’m really not upset or stressed out, yet I assume everyone else hates it when they have to wait for me.
I arrived 15 minutes late and Ruby pleasantly greeted me. No grief for being late, although she joked on the way in that I would have to redeem myself. The place wasn’t full at all so we were seated right away. We got our menus and Ruby immediately asked me what my GroupOn was good for. Shit, I’d forgotten. I told her in an email that I had a voucher. Oh well. I told her I didn’t have it. I forgot to print it and they said it had to be printed. Also, that it wasn’t a GroupOn, but from Gilt City. I asked if GroupOn had become the Kleenex of group buying services and she said that it seemed to be the case. I could name eight different deal sites off the top of my head but I still referred to them all as GroupOns. That was good branding.
We took our sweet time looking at the menu and decided to go for the unlimited brunch option, since that was what the deal would have been for anyway. Ruby ordered endless red bellinis and my never ending cup was filled with mimosas. For food, she opted for the sweet crepes and I got French toast, which was one of my favorites. It began to look like Brunch was taking it easy on me for the time being.
Our drinks arrived quickly and we started catching up. It had been a couple months since I’d seen Ruby and I don’t think we’d even spoken much the last time I saw her. After a quick toast, we recounted the last few months in regards to work, life and improv.
Ruby and I met in an improv class the previous Fall and my very first improv show in NYC was with her troupe. They were an all female team which usually had one male improvisor sit in with them and I was lucky enough to join them one night at a basement bar. Nine months later, my team was hosting a monthly show at the very same bar and her team was regularly hosting a night strictly for comediennes at one of the best theaters in the city. Ruby was amongst one of my first improv buddies in the city and I was lucky to have met her.
A server delivered our food to us, and while the portions weren’t big, they would be fine for our first meal of the day. I knew we were sort of getting screwed on the price point for food so I decided to make up for it by drinking more. As a light weight, I was fairly certain that it was a terrible idea, but who cared?! Wasn’t brunch all about throwing up your hands and shouting, “I know what time it is, but I’m a lady and I wanna drink!”
Brunch, at its best, is a rebellious activity carried out by affluent young people who don’t agree with the antiquated ideals of waking up early or being sober. You might have had a squeaky clean exterior Brunch, but I saw the real you.
The conversation wound its way down a summer’s road as we each worked our way through our meals. Ruby was one of those people I’d known for far too long to know so little about her life. I knew she was from Southern California, and that she was not an actress full time, but that was about it. As it turned out though, Ruby and I had some big things in common.
For starters, she worked as a software trainer for a major marketing research firm and a big part of my job just happened to be training people how to use software. Training really was one of the better parts of that job since it allowed me to get out of the office (into another office) and have real-life, human interactions with clients. It was also very presentational, which we both agreed allowed us to use our improv training in our careers. People would be amazed/not-amazed-at-all to know how much acting is involved in most client-facing desk jobs. It’s absolutely necessary to keep other robots happy!
Another round of fruity drinks, another great discovery. Ruby and I had both come from big baseball families. That is to say, we both had brothers big into baseball. Hers was still in school and playing Division 1 ball at that very moment. My brother, being a good nine years older, had long left that track but I could remember the days of him being a baseball legend in my eyes. He really was the best of the best growing up and I always idolized him when it came to baseball. In fact, he made it difficult for me to ever think of myself as any good. I constantly had my older brother there as a measuring stick against which I would measure myself. I was never going to go to a big state school to play ball like my brother did, so there were times when it seemed nearly impossible to match him. The good news is that I grew up, became an adult and baseball didn’t matter any more. We’ were just brothers.
It was awesome to know someone else who lived very much in the two worlds that I lived in: corporate software and improv. It seemed like many of the forces that pushed and pulled at me at the time were in Ruby’s life as well. It was not always easy being the corporate person surrounded by artists, nor was it easy being the clown in a cubical. No one’s work/life balance was inherently easy, but there was something cathartic about talking with someone who was in my exact situation. It was like in college when you’d see chem majors talking to chem major — only they knew what it was truly like.
Brunch, you little rascal, were you just messing with me this whole time? You actually seem quite wonderful.
We carried on for some time and the drinks kept coming. It was nearly three hours later that we finally got our bill and headed out for the streets of the West Village. If originally I’d felt overcharged for the meal, I couldn’t care less by the time we left.
I’m fairly certain I had never before been that drunk that early in the day.
Hats off to you, Brunch!
Being the great decision makers we were, we decided to find ourselves a bar.
On our way, we discovered a small corner-side shop selling hats. The place was filled with stupid hats that I’d always kind of wanted but knew would make me look like a douche bag. I guess I’m really just talking about fedoras and bowler hats. I told Ruby how I’d kind of always wanted one and she told me to try some on. Five minutes and 25 dollars later, I was walking down Bleeker Street in a hat that Ruby told me was “very cute.”
Look at me world! I’M THE KING OF BRUNCH. I even had a crown!
We made our way into a local watering hole for some mid-afternoon refreshment. A young man and woman were seated near us, and while I was sure they were a couple, Ruby was not convinced. We were discussing our various reasons for thinking why they were or were not together when I told Ruby she should just ask them if she was so concerned. The male in question got up to use the bathroom and so Ruby hopped over and asked the young lady if he was her boyfriend. Indeed, he was and I was proven correct. It was confirmed — I was definitely the King of Brunch.
One round of drinks later and I don’t know what came over us (likely the drinks), but Ruby and I started making out at the bar. We were not in a booth, nor at a table in a corner — we were sitting right at the bar, right in plain view. Everyone who walked into the place had to walk by us. It was as conspicuous as conspicuous could get. Why had such a thing happened? Because Brunch didn’t give a fuck, did you Brunch? Brunch does what it wants.
With our Brunch hormones raging, it was clear that we needed to take our shananigans elsewhere. We needed a couch or a bed for some real making out. A quick look at the time told me that it wouldn’t be possible though — I had call for an improv show in one hour. No time for apartments, people! Ruby took charge of the situation and led me to the men’s bathroom. There was another patron in there already, and while I’m sure he wouldn’t have been offended, we opted for the ladies’ room instead.
Now, I had never before made out in a bathroom at a bar, but it is my understanding that this wasn’t the craziest thing in the world. People did it all the time. This was what I told myself as I took off my hat and tried to figure out the best way to position myself in the stall.
About 15 or 20 minutes later, I looked down at my phone and realized that I really needed to get moving. We straightened out our clothing, untussled our hair, and stepped out into the nearly empty bar. No one seemed to pay us any attention. I felt like we’d gotten away with murder. Thanks again, Brunch!
It was drizzling a little as we walked back out on to Bleeker Street and said our goodbyes. I ran to the nearest uptown subway so I could get to my show.
Hours later, I realized that I’d lost my hat. I mentally retraced my steps, knowing that I didn’t leave it at the theater nor did I lose it on the subway. It was obvious: the last I saw of my hat was taking it off in the women’s bathroom at the bar.
At around 3:50 a.m., after a night out and a long walk from the Lower East Side, I found myself back at the scene of the crime. They were not letting anyone else into the bar but I made my plea and I was granted access.
The staff had changed over since the afternoon so I wasn’t expecting much help. I asked the bartender about a brown fedora and while she said nothing had been turned in, a gentleman down the other end of the bar piped up. It was the bartender from earlier that day, sitting there having a beer. He said he remembered me and he thought that I left with the hat on. Otherwise, he hadn’t seen it.
I didn’t have the balls to ask him if he had checked the ladies’ bathroom.
Well Brunch, you took my money and left me hatless to wander the streets of New York in the middle of the night, but there are no hard feelings. From here on out, I think we’re going to be good friends.