January 27, 2013

Brunch Report

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Location: The Brixton, 2140 Union St., San Francisco
Date: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Time: 11:34 a.m.
Reporter: Jimmy Chen
Escort: Undisclosed female

We wanted to go to Rose’s Cafe, with outside seating under awnings, but the wait for a table of two was over forty minutes, and we — unseduced rational people, perhaps on the grim side — didn’t believe the food, any food, could justify waiting that long. My friend was artificially inseminated, and now has a fatherless adorable child. On the sidewalk, a woman in expensive sunglasses was adamant on conveying how cute the baby was, her language quickly reduced to baby talk (e.g. “oh, lookie wookie that’s my cutie woogy, etc.”); she asked if I was the father — obtusely, as my friend and the baby are both white — at which I fiercely shook my head. She then asked a random man standing in front of us if he was the dad. My friend and I exchanged embarrassed glances.

The Brixton could seat two immediately, and we were thus seated. A large group of women were seated next to us having what I assume was some “girl’s brunch out,” the first of many consumption oriented events (e.g. shopping, manicures, massages) they would mutually experience throughout the day. Those closest to us commented on how cute the baby was, employing their own babbles. I refrained from ordering a Bloody Mary, as I have a drinking problem, and ordered two coffees for both of us. Our waitress was beautiful, like a European model, with sunken cheekbones that hinted at a drug and/or eating problem. She, as all the other waitresses there, wore a tight black mini skirt. I felt as humiliated gawking at her as she perhaps was wearing it.

When she came over with our coffee — never dark or hot enough — I ordered an Eggs Benedict and Pulled-pork hash with a poached egg. Brunch may be obsessed with eggs in some form. The baby slammed her head against the edge of the table, got red-faced and cried. “We don’t have that much time,” my friend pleaded to the waitress. Uncomfortable babies are time bombs waiting to go off. Now and then, I escaped into the basketball game playing on the big screen above me. Sneakers squeaked on drops of warm sweat. The food came and I, with a serrated knife, cut or separated all components on both plates in half, placing the orphaned half on the other plate. When you bisect a poached egg, it bleeds the yellow blood of a bird that will never be.

There’s an odd bourgeois entitlement to the concept of brunch, which often happens after lunch, our goers casually latent to the semantics of “breakfast-lunch”; they are likely young urban professionals with the same fierce personalities which propel them against rock climbing walls after work, or cause them to be comfortably loud during happy hour. They work and play hard, get drunk, settle the tab without worry, have agile sex and thick hang overs, and get brunch after the headache clears. These practitioners may have a regrettable tattoo of a Chinese character behind their neck, or design from some exoticized culture, from collegiate years, around one of their shins. Life happens, and everyone is ten pounds heavier. Each one deftly interfaces with their Mac technology while waiting in line, at the table for their waitress, and then again for the food. There are no idle moments, only status updates.

The baby was getting worse. My friend sighed and mentioned life being difficult. The sorority sisters at the next table were taking pictures of their dishes and/or their reactions to the dishes, instragramming the shit out of everything. Rather audibly, with a touch of misandry, they each provided commentary on their dates last night, save the chunky one, who lowered her head. My friend said “sorry” and pulled out her left blue-veined breast, obstructing its view with the back of her daughter’s head, who sucked with abandon. I abashedly watched the basketball game. A group of tall black men intently surrounded an angry white man wearing a suit. He was pointing at something and screaming. Behind me, an older gentleman on a date with a young South-pacific Asian woman in severe makeup and heels bought a bottle of Champagne, which impressed his date. It cried condensation, and I suddenly got very sad.

Evidently, someone had made a 3-pointer at a critical moment, because a loud ostentatious burst came from a table of bros wearing sandals and their hats backwards. They wore Polo shirts, Tommy Hilfiger shorts, and condoms when they had to. My friend retrieved her breast, sat the baby down in the highchair, and inhaled her food with the remaining time she had. I searched each table for Bloody Marys and felt my throat miss its hot numbing sting. Part of me wanted one, as part of me wanted many things: for the coffee to have been stronger; for the bros to get into accidents while snow boarding; for high-heals to snap; for my friend and I to have been — at one lost time, before we platonically loved then hated each other — more than friends; to have a child of my own, or better yet a family, the three of us sitting there, in this meek fantasy, as we sort of were then.

The check came and she placed a gift card — a disappointed subsidy from her parents — on the table. “Let me at least give you a twenty,” I said, shifting butt-cheek weight in the pantomime of getting one’s wallet. “No, oh no, please,” she said. The beautiful stark waitress with the drug problem and mini skirt came over with the receipt. I saw her wondering what our situation was. My friend was preoccupied with baby-centric contraptions, telling me to make straps tighter. “You’ll have to sign for me,” she said, “it doesn’t matter.” I knew what she meant. A signature doesn’t mean much these days, save on the form which will keep the biological father from ever contacting his daughter; the sperm donor, the would be father if this world, her love, worked a little better. She told me she used to look at babies in cafes and cry. She used to just cry, all the time, and now has a baby that does. It seems as if this world doesn’t function properly, doesn’t quiet down, until someone cries. Outside, two small high-pitched dogs leapt at each other from behind taut leashes, and I am reminded how the most honest two feelings in this world are fear and violence. I signed my friend’s name on the receipt, my hand feigning the air of what someone in her skin might be feeling.  TC Mark

Jimmy Chen

Jimmy Chen writes essays, criticism, and satire. He also contributes at HTMLGIANT, among other places, and …

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