Resentment bubbles up in the strangest of places. This morning’s bit of bile comes, oddly enough, in the form of an attack on the practice of enjoying a late morning meal with friends.
“Brunch” I learned today “is for jerks.” At least that is what I thought I’d learn by reading a New York Times Sunday Review article by David Shaftel published under that exact title. What I learned instead is not what makes people who brunch jerks, because that is never really explained, but rather how obligations can sometimes make people petty and sour.
David, you see, used to enjoy brunch himself. But no longer. Now he sees the completely innocent practice as “a twice-weekly symbol of our culture’s increasing desire to reject adulthood. It’s about throwing out not only the established schedule but also the social conventions of our parents’ generation. It’s about reveling in the naughtiness of waking up late, having cocktails at breakfast and eggs all day.”
Oooh, “reveling in naughtiness.” You can almost hear an antebellum drawl from David as he fans himself vigorously proclaiming, “My, oh-my, oh mercy me, they’ve combined orange juice and Champagne. And they’re drinking it on The Lord’s Day, even. I do believe I’m having the vapors.”
The silliness of it all is heightened by the fact that this is actually his most damning charge. But his real problem isn’t that brunch is naughty or that it abandons the “established schedules and social conventions of our parents’ generation.” He reveals his real criticism in a single sentence when he writes “now that I have a young daughter, brunch is completely impractical.”
So it’s not that people minding their own business while enjoying a meal with friends are necessarily jerks. It’s that they remind him of a lifestyle he used to enjoy, but no longer can.
Instead of graciously accepting his own lifestyle choice he chooses to lash out at those who have chosen differently. Thus the “well-off young professionals who are unencumbered by children — exactly the kind of people who can fritter away Saturday, Sunday or both over a boozy brunch” have, in his mind, suddenly become adolescent jerks.
It’s an all-too-common attitude toward those of us who are child free. We’re told that we’re irresponsible, selfish and now, apparently, even jerks. We’re none of those things, of course. But sour grapes must taste better to those who are unhappy than the bitter medicine of accepting personal responsibility for the course of one’s own life.
Perhaps there is some small consolation in believing that having a child somehow makes you a grown up. I’ve always thought that adulthood began once you start owning the consequences of your decisions. By that measure, David and others like him still have a lot of growing up to do.