The Dancing Monkey 2016 request continues, with a topic that is near and dear to my heart:
THE UNENVIABLE HELL OF A BAD BREAKFAST
I am old enough to remember a time when Australia wasn’t a breakfast culture. ‘Course, I am old enough to remember a time when the arrival of McDonalds upon our shores was a big deal, and a time when a cappuccino was a fancy-ass coffee.
We’ve grown up, in the last thirty years or so, and somewhere along the line we became the folks who are all about our goddamn breakfast. Try to get a group of friends together for dinner, in Australia, and you will have an endless array of maybes and alternate dates, everyone hedging their bets.
Break out: “Meet me for breaky somewhere?”
Everyone is all fucking in.
It helps that our cafes got really good at breakfast and coffee over the last twenty years. I can think of three cafes within walking distance of my house that will provide a kick-ass breakfast, and I don’t live in a particularly cafe-rich suburb of Brisbane. These are places that take goddamn pride in their breakfast menu. Places for whom simple staples like bacon and eggs or avacado on toast are dreamt into new forms in order to give them a competitive edge.
We take our breakfast seriously. Which is weird, given the vast majority of us will make do with toast and Vegemite when we eat breakfast at home.
And yet, occasionally, you get a dude. A cafe with a menu that looks great, but the execution is poor. Or a situation where you find yourself with limited options, and you’re left eating stodgy reheated eggs on badly burnt toast in an airport.
Breakfasts from hell, with the potential to ruin your day. You eat them and you taste regret. You finish, and it weighs heavy in your stomach. Breakfasts where you envy the bastards who stayed home, and ate their Vegemite on toast.
EXPECTATIONS SET RESPONSE
I would not be me if I didn’t bring this topic back to writing, so here it is: the breakfasts that disappoint us most are those we expected to be good, but failed to deliver on the initial promise.
Sometimes those expectations are set by experience – a cafe that has always delivered good breakfast changes chefs and the results are…poor.
Sometimes those expectations are set by the standards of other locals: cafes are the place one goes for good breakfast, so naturally your expectations are high when you try a new one out.
Sometimes, those expectations are set by the cafe itself: a great write-up on the menu makes their breakfast sound delicious, but the reality is just not up to the description.
It’s incredibly hard to separate our reactions from our expectations, particularly when we feel like we’ve just been suckered. Nothing will piss you off more than a book or film that sets your expectation one way, and does something else.
It’s half the reason I loathe Zack Snyder films: they look good in previews, but fail to deliver in cinema. It’s why second book syndrome is regarded as a thing. It’s why sequels are incredibly hard.
There is no more dangerous words for a writer to hear than I thought this would be better.