O! Brunch! Glorious brunch! The greatest of American pastimes. (No, really. Being able to start your day with the trifecta of food + booze + friends is a gift.) Still, one of the hallmarks of brunching is watching everyone else who is at any given restaurant with you. It is a wilderness out there in between the hours of 10:30am and 2pm. Tread carefully when you squeeze between tables to reach your seats. Disturb the mimosas and risk making the natives restless.
1. People who are way more fashionable than you’ll ever be
The world is their runway, and brunch is the ultimate in red carpets. These are the people who have somehow cobbled together skinny-legged overalls, crop tops, and neon beanies without looking like their closet regurgitated all over them, or have managed to get their perfectly manicured hands on the latest leather leggings before they even hit stores. (Let me know when you’ve decided to hawk last season’s wares on Ebay, okay?)
2. People in immaculate workout wear
The alter ego of the Way More Fashionable People, these are the folks who have perfectly coordinated Lululemon and Nike confections, and who don’t even bat an eye at the fact that the clothes they sweat in are more expensive than the clothes you go to work in. They tend to brunch right around the corner from the boutique classes they attend, and will probably insist on ordering a green juice with breakfast.
3. People in clearly sweaty workout wear
This variation of the gym bunny does not give a damn about what they’re currently putting in their mouth. The most zealous have a race bib still proudly tacked to their shirtfront, but at the very least, their hair is a veritable mess and they, the red-faced and proud, are shoveling more food than you could ever imagine down their gullet. (Hey, you can’t spell “brunch” without “run.”)
4. People who partied a little too hearty the night before
Hallmarks of the Tragically Hungover include sunglasses in the restaurant, being asked to sit away from the loud center of the restaurant, and the rabid question as to if the menu comes with a cocktail included or if — they ask eagerly, their eyes lighting up with the kind of hope that is reserved for Santa Claus and ponies — there are unlimited refills. They will also jump down their waiter’s throat to ask for coffee as black and bitter as the relentless pounding coming from inside their skulls. Sssh, babies. You left your bed today. That is all anyone can ask of you.
5. Young families at trendy restaurants
God bless these people, who are simultaneously trying to restrain their young children from making a racket around those tenderly hungover folks, and slightly jealous that their woefully hurting days are behind them. I respect that multitasking. Brunch is not over once you have children. Never let anyone else tell you otherwise.
6. People who have clearly just spent the night together for the first time
Ah, young love. So sweet, so delicate, so clearly very awkward. Typically, this morning date has been foisted on one of the two parties, and this person will keep looking around awkwardly and take longer deliberating over what they want to eat. The other person will look at them adoringly, hoping that because they agreed to breakfast, this is the start of something b-e-a-uuuutiful. How sublime to be in that hazy hook-up afterglow, where anything is possible and love is not dead.
7. The established couples
Conversely, these people have brought the entire New York Times with them, and are passive aggressively bickering over who gets the magazine, strewing discarded sheets of the Style and Sports sections over the floor, and poring over the Real Estate section like their lives depend on it. They will say nary a word to each other otherwise, but will emanate the aura that they have their lives much more together than you do. Because they do.
8. People who are just pre-gaming the bar
Whether these valiant Energizer bunnies are just beginning to rev their day-drinking engines or have trooped from the club to the diner to the brunch joint with nary a wink of sleep, their commitment to the cause is admirable. I mean, I get grumpy if I can’t take a nap, let alone going 24 hours drinking and socializing and yelling over loud music and tables and sports fans. There is some serious commitment happening here. This is the work ethic of someone who is either really dedicated, or really, really deranged.
9. Guys who are clearly appeasing their girlfriends
You know the last episode of Sex and the City where Big crashes brunch at the diner and Miranda tells him to go save Carrie from Paris? Now subtract the white knight swooning factor, and multiply Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha’s nervous distrust of a Man at their Table by about a thousand. The guy will be uncomfortable, as this may be his first foray into meeting The Friends, or he may just be so clearly over it that he clings to any other available Boyfriends at the table. Don’t worry, boys, you’ll be able to escape to the bar soon, I promise.
10. 20-somethings and their parents
The tension at this table will be at its absolute apex, because the parents who are visiting from out of town are clearly nearing the end of their stay and the anxious 20-something feels disconnected to their peers. They are checking their Instagram feeds and surreptitiously texting under the table, but there is also the unsaid expectation on their behalf that their parents will be paying for the meal, so they decide not to bail. (The parents, on the other hand, are rightfully tired of their beloved offspring’s petulant antics, and decide to ignore them for more important matters, like getting the waiter’s attention for more ketchup.)
Never in the same restaurant twice, the Foodie is an illusive spirit. You will only ever know they’ve been there if you stumble upon them in the middle of the 2 and a half hours it takes them to fully immerse themselves in the restaurant ambiance, and from all of the Instagram pictures they’ve artfully styled before shooting from above.
12. People with the best intentions regarding what they say they’re going to order
You can say you’re going to order the kale caesar salad all you want, and you can really have the best intentions at heart, but look. This is brunch. This is the weekend. Go into the restaurant with the aims and ideals, but just know that stronger people than you have succumbed to the siren song of bourbon-baked French Toast with gingered maple syrup and caramelized bananas. It’s okay. Life is too short to only eat kale.
These poor souls are doing the Lord’s work, truly. They have been on their feet for hours already, hustling to make those tips, refilling coffee and orange juice, and dealing with the antics and egg white substitutions that only exist in horror stories. Tip them well, for without them, brunch would cease to exist.
14. People on their phones
JK, that’s all of the above.