A Cautionary Tale About Brunch: Film Center Café
COLIN: You know my feelings on brunch. Particularly, brunch on a Sunday. I hate to be the designated driver of the Sunday Funday set, but boys (and bois) and girls (and grrrls), let’s be realistic. Do you really want to wake up at 8:30 p.m. sweaty and cotton-mouthed, with home fries in your hair, wondering where your phone is and why your roommate is hanging half out of the bathroom, clutching a crumbly tube of Ritz crackers to her chest?
Is that your idea of a good time?
Because it’s these people’s idea of a great time:
COLIN: This past weekend, Angela and I decided to meet up for brunch. “Healthy brunch,” Angela said, because of course, I’m still ReJunevenating and all. And despite a myriad of downtown options (thanks for my friends-who-don’t-realize-we’re-friends at BiNY), we chose the quickest of options, Film Center Café. It’s two blocks from my apartment, and they have unlimited drinks.
ANGELA: Before this story gets underway, can I just say that my plan for Sunday was to have a nice, relatively early brunch with Colin, and then to go for a long, therapeutic run in Central Park, and then clean my apartment. That’s totally not what happened.
COLIN: “Healthy brunch.”
ANGELA: When Colin suggested the Film Center Café, my first thought was, “Oh, that place that is always blasting the loud rap music?” But the brunch special was too good to pass up—eleven bucks for the meal, and 16 additional dollars for unlimited drinks. God save us all.
COLIN: Perhaps it was a bad omen when Angela noted, “Why does the music always have to be so loud there? What’s that about?” But it was (we thought) a known quantity, and I’d taken my family here one time (and the music wasn’t loud at all) and I knew we wouldn’t have to wait in line, clutching the velvet rope in hopes of some very posh, very those-in-the-know eggs Florentine, like your standard Meatpacking mid-day meal provider.
The place was not crowded, but about full, and the only seats available for two were at the bar. No big deal. We parked it, got menus and of course, our first round of drinks:
Second bad omen. Why did I have a goblet of champagne? Who was pouring these drinks, me? It looked like maybe they were running out of glasses, which would suggest that a lot of people were drinking at the Film Center Café.
ANGELA : I decided to drink mimosas (gotta get your vitamin C!) and Colin stuck with straight-up champagne, because the mixture of orange juice and champagne gives him a severe case of the “Asian Flush.”
COLIN: It’s true!
ANGELA: I feel like the third bad omen was New Yorkers talking to each other.
COLIN: Like, aggressively connecting.
ANGELA: The woman to my right was sooo into the veggie burger I ordered and kept asking me, “How is that? That looks good! *Turns to her friend* Hey, look at that—doesn’t that look good?” WTF? Did you want a bite?
COLIN: So, it sort of happened the way it does in zombie movies. One person shows symptoms, but despite some suspicions raised, it may just be an isolated case. But then someone else starts, and then it just exponentially doubles and triples and before you know it:
Being the breakfast/lunch hybrid stick in the mud that I am, I of course looked around to figure out where the manager was, and who was going to put a stop to these shenanigans. I was eating a chopped salad, for God’s sake (and all of my sweet potato fries). This was not cause for celebration.
What Angela and I were greeted with, instead…were shots.
Suddenly, we were in some kind of Caligula* meets Fame orgy where people were pouring champagne into each other’s mouths and cha-cha’ing with the waiters. ALL THE WHILE, The Shawshank Redemption was playing on the television, interrupted by, at one point, an extended ASPCA ad appealing to anyone to help these beaten, abused animals find a better life.
*Had to Google search “Caligula.”
This was the response:
Please take note of the fist-pumping at the bottom of the frame.
ANGELA: This was when I made the realization that Hell’s Kitchen is just a gay Murray Hill. I was downing my third mimosa at the same time that Andy Dufresne was crawling a half mile through sewage and into freedom. I tried to explain the storyline to Colin and kept yelling at him, “You have to look at the TV screen with the subtitles! It’s such a beautiful film!” But the music was so loud and the dancing was so wild…
COLIN: By the time Gloria Estefan came on, and a conga line had started through the restaurant, I was not quite sure if I was drunk enough to stay for much more of this. Worry not, though, because along came:
“Cheers to Robo-tripping!” Angela proclaimed (because they looked/tasted like cough syrup), and we downed them like good sports. Meanwhile, our bowls of booze on the bar were refilled without question, and often without notice. The bartender, a sort of spooked-looking Eastern European type with heavy bangs and no hips, would flit by and fill each glass to the brim without so much as a peep.
ANGELA: There were points where I’d legit cover my glass with my hand because I couldn’t handle anymore mimosa. Or I’d go to the bathroom and come back completely disheartened because my glass was once again filled to the top with that orange-y devil’s drink. How would we ever get out of there?
COLIN: But I guess we were a little distracted to notice. Because there was this guy:
ANGELA: When he first walked in he was clean and put together. By the time we left he was completely covered in sweat and was using his hot pink Madonna shirt as a scarf around his neck.
COLIN: Oh God, I forgot about when he took his shirt off!
We spotted a girl in a romper, and I kept thinking, “She has to take all her clothes off to go to the bathroom.”
ANGELA: Colin told me, “If I was a girl that’s exactly how I’d want to be built,” at which point I disappointedly looked down at the roll of fat hanging over my shorts and made a “pfffttt” farting sound with my lips.
COLIN: This was the veggie burger fan next to us, who kept tossing us the occasional, “Ooh, girl, this is why I don’t live in the city anymore!” I think her fashion sense probably didn’t help…
And then of course, the inevitable came: We stole our neighbor’s bacon.
I think it may have been somewhere between shot number 3,
and shot number 4,
that we realized that she was dancing in the aisles, her bacon was getting cold, and we were getting hungry, and maybe a little daring. We looked at each other like two teenagers drinking for the first time, waiting to see who was serious, who was really going to do it and not just sort of casually say, “We should just take her bacon” but not do anything about it.
ANGELA: Also, one of my top “Things I Wish I Could Do in Public” fantasies has always been to steal food off of somebody’s plate at a restaurant.
I blame shot number four. “Okay, take the bacon!” I said, and without hesitation, Angela reached out and grabbed half of it. We were like dogs (not ASPCA dogs) who had gotten into the leftovers. There was no real pride in the act, but there was plenty of reward.
ANGELA: We ate half of it, and then 10 minutes later said, “eff it,” and took the rest right before she came back over. This is the same woman who was basically salivating over my veggie burger, so I didn’t feel too badly about it. At that point I was so hammered the only thing saving me from completely blacking out (that came later) was the bacon grease lining my stomach.
COLIN: Okay, I worried slightly that she’d come back and lose her shit, but alas, she was sweaty and blackout drunk by the time she returned to the bar to pay her bill.
And really, it was getting to be time to pay our bill (because we had been there for hours). When the waitress stopped bothering with pouring mimosas into Angela’s glass and just filled both of ours with champagne, and when we went into the men’s room together to pee and the passing waiter said, “Hey, it’s what you do in college, right?” I knew that maybe I’d had enough debauchery for a Sunday afternoon.
OH MY GOD I TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT THAT.
After paying and staggering out (and here’s the remainder of the scene we left):
We headed across the street to Hell’s Kitchen’s diviest of gay bars, 9th Avenue Saloon, where neither of us remember taking pictures like this:
My friend Matt met us there, where presumably we hung out though I don’t remember anything we said or did there, and then we staggered back to my apartment, where Angela collapsed like a pile of laundry on my bed and I soon did the same, setting my alarm for an hour later, when I needed to be up and out the door to meet a friend of mine for a movie downtown.
ANGELA: I wish I could come up with something bitey to say about this, but I don’t remember a smidge of it. I’ve blacked out maybe three or four times in my life. A SUNDAY BRUNCH SHOULD NOT BE ANOTHER NOTCH ON MY BLACKOUT BEDPOST. The only thing about being back at Colin’s that I recall is waking up to the sound of him loudly breathing (because he was sleeping) and me thinking, “Oh, shit.” Then Colin waking me up a little later and me still being drunk.
I officially accomplished nothing yesterday except getting myself to the movie (gay indie drama Weekend, totally recommend it and will probably give it a proper TooNYC review), and this—THIS—is what I’m talking about when I talk about brunch.
I needed to buy new running sneakers, and maybe do some writing, and maybe start packing for a business trip this week, and despite the movie and after-party, I was hoping to be home and in bed at a reasonable hour so I could get to 6:30 a.m. bootcamp, and then to work to finish my lingering to-do list before I go out of town.
INSTEAD, I did none of those things, got to work sweaty and disoriented at 10 a.m., with a low level of anxiety coursing through my veins all day. I felt tired, hungover and even a little depressed, and wanted nothing more than to climb into bed with those well-worn noodles and eat.
ANGELA: Since yesterday’s events all I’ve done is eat cobb salad, get Tasti-D-Light, have a hangover at 10 p.m., slept, floated through my workday, ate more cobb salad and am still exhausted.
This is your life on brunch.
Got any questions?
Read the TooNY version of this article, which includes more pictures and more witty comments, HERE!