The rise of Sunday Brunch marks the arrival of something that women have been seeking for generations. For decades the Sunday Funday has been a masculine playground. How many photo albums and home videos have we seen of men sitting on their La-Z-Boys as women hid in whatever room they could use to escape the unrelenting din of the game and the accompanying razor, beer, and erectile dysfunction ads? Now, from the hip downtowns of major cities to suburban Panera enclaves, the women who aren’t football fans have an alternative. They are no longer subject to the ecstatic chants of triumph and the pathetic shrieks of defeat resonating from the living room or the sports bar. Why? They are out at that new brunch spot. That’s right, there is finally an answer to the age-old SAT simile: Mars is to Venus AS Football is to _______. Truly, brunch and football are two sides of the same coin.
Brunch, by contrast, is a steady flow of truth telling. It is three-to-seven hours of emotion sharing at its bluntest. The only added element is booze, which is a prerequisite for adults communicating honestly.
Not seeing it? Let’s walk through the similarities. Perhaps most notably, there is the sheer amount of booze consumed. Woe unto the bistro that offers unlimited mimosas for less than fifteen dollars. I remember my first brunch experience fondly. It was the afternoon of a Steelers-Texans game, and somehow, the television in the corner had it on. I was truly blessed. I foolishly arrived at 11 a.m., the scheduled meeting time, and from 12:15, when my partners-in-brunch finally showed up, until 3:45, when I left to watch the nail-biting fourth quarter at a sports bar equipped with sound, it was non-stop drinking. I tried to get an estimate for how long the “ladies who brunch” hung around after my departure. They had no idea, as time slipped away with that fifth Bloody Mary. This is not the distracted type of drinking you encounter during a football game, either. No, this is not the lazy sipping of beers during commercials and time-outs. This is an active, intense kind of drinking, as the only distraction provided to you is Bridgette’s play-by-play analysis of her one-night stand, ending with an over-under bet on how long it takes him to call, if he calls at all.
Then there’s the food. At least football fans don’t lie to themselves. We know that wings and chili-cheese fries are going to set us on pace for a heart attack at the ripe old age of 37; we have no illusions (outside of the significance of the sporting event we're watching). Brunch-aholics seem to think that just because the dish they've ordered is preceded by a French or Spanish adjective on the menu, it somehow fits into their restrictive diet. Eggs Benedict by any other name still contains Canadian bacon or ham, and girl, eating all those home fries means you just consumed a pound of potatoes.
I have no eloquent defense for us football-lovers and our preoccupation with the brutal gladiatorial savagery of the gridiron. As a friend recently put it, “Do you realize that last year, we watched Johnny Knox get split in half on national television?” I do. Somehow, I’m okay with it. That said, the entertainments at brunch are no less savage. I already mentioned Bridgette’s one-night stand. At a standard brunch, this subject would be dissected in great detail. As would Bridgette’s career, her relationship with her parents, her relationship with her therapist, her overall track record with men, and the success or failure of her current diet. And that’s if she's there. If she’s not there, ratchet all of that up six notches and add in a round table on that annoying thing she does with her hair. Such discussion can be more brutal than a James Harrison helmet-to-helmet collision. When two players collide, at least CBS turns down the sound and cuts away to the cheerleaders.
Granted, there are some key differences between brunch and football, like the way emotions are expressed. Men really do need some elaborate pretense for sharing their feelings. The old Bud Light “I Love You, Man” commercials were not wrong, even if they were shilling for one of the worst beers ever fermented. Brunch, by contrast, is a steady flow of truth telling. It is three-to-seven hours of emotion sharing at its bluntest. The only added element is booze, which is a prerequisite for adults communicating honestly. That said, when both events come to an end, there is awkward hugging and insistence that “you guys are the only people in the world who get me.” We’ll chalk that up as a similarity despite the differences. Brunch plays out of the emotional slot, while Football Sunday looks for the deep ball of feelings sharing…okay, I’ll abandon the football metaphors now.
This brings me to the final great similarity between brunch and football: How the events come to an end. When the meal or game is over, there is about a half-hour of aimless discussion and fidgeting in seats before someone finally says, “Well, I have to go to work tomorrow. I’d better head out.” From the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, the click of heels resounds. From the sidewalk in front of the sports bar whispers the mournful squeak of sneakers under the weight of jersey-adorned beer guts. Both involve a slow stumble back to apartments and homes where the responsibilities of life await, but one lovely thought persists: You’ll be able to do it again next Sunday.
by Brenden Gallagher (@muddycreekU)