Recently, New York Times columnist David Brooks has been on a roll writing about how he's been having trouble making dining plans with his friends. Last week, he wrote about all the ways people have bailed on him, and how he's bailed on others.
We may have found the reason why. David Brooks has a lunch problem.
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.
Let's start with the basics. That looks like Italian food he's eating, there, so he's saying that Italian deli meats are the height of pretension. That would be a shock to the cast of the Sopranos.
But maybe David Brooks' friend just didn't want a sandwich. I mean, when you're eating with the six-figure-earning Times columnist, why not enjoy what a sit-down, multi-course meal instead? But, to Brooks, the friend's desire to not eat a sandwich seemed like a sign of class anxiety. A Mexican restaurant, apparently, seemed a better fit for his less-educated friend — why exactly?
It's a shame because it seems that Brooks will one day understand that there are structural problems that prohibit class mobility in America, but falls ever so short here, instead blaming economic problems on vague"behavior codes" and "informal social barriers" that somehow include having "the right attitudes" about David Foster Wallace, podcasts, Pilates and what sandwiches you eat for lunch.
Consider that Brooks apparently believes that "[i]t’s not really the prices that ensure 80 percent of your co-shoppers at Whole Foods are, comfortingly, also college grads; it’s the cultural codes."