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Brunch at the Cosmos Club

Yesterday I brunched at the Cosmos Club, which is a personal first. Normally I don't brunch, and have grave doubts about the propriety of using the word "brunch" as a verb. Go down that road and one will descend in a bottomless pit of pretentiousness. Events shouldn't become verbs. You never hear anyone say, "We keg partied last night at the frat."

Whenever I am permitted to enter the splendid realm of the Cosmos Club I am always surprised and frankly a little disappointed to see that no one is wearing a space suit. With a name like the Cosmos Club you ought to see people in some kind of futuristic outfits, helmets that sprout antennae, lots of shiny silver jumpsuits that look like they're made out of mylar. Once I get a membership and take over the place we will have a strict dress code that requires full pressure suits at every meal. We will eat freeze-dried astronaut food. The only beverage will be Tang.

It was an enlightening brunch, a gathering of book authors, though I was the dumbest person at the table by a long shot and spent the whole time wishing I had prepared some material in advance. I had violated a cardinal rule: Never Brunch Unprepared. Someone should start a company that offers Brunch Preparation. (Mental note: Mention to Kaplan folks.)

The guy next to me had written part of a textbook on Civilization. The opening section dealt with human origins, and was quite good, though I found the temerity to nitpick it. That's always what authors want: Someone to nitpick their FINISHED WORK. It's as though a voice in my head said, "People will think you're smarter if you criticize them." The guy should have grabbed me by my neck and said: "Listen, Ding-Dong, this 40-pound textbook came off the presses a week ago and your job is to praise it and then shut up." But the fellow let it slide. I think he must have sensed that I lacked brunch skills. He could tell I hadn't trained. I was just winging the brunch, pitifully.

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 21, 2005; 10:06 AM ET
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