Julianne Mosher is a sensible, 27-year-old freelance writer who found herself waiting in line outside of Rolf's during last year's Christmas season. Rolf's, a German restaurant and Manhattan fixture on Third Avenue and East 22nd Street, packs them in during the November and December festivities, even more than at other times during the year.
Mosher said she and a friend waited in line "in the cold, for about 45 minutes," and noted, "people behind us were saying that they once waited an hour and a half to get in."
How did the experience leave her?
"Was it worth it?" she asked rhetorically in an email message. "It was pretty, but once we got inside, it was packed to capacity. The one saving grace: "I got to see the decorations."
So Many Great Places to Wait
Residents of New York and visitors will put up with a lot to have a uniquely Manhattan experience. Just check out the long line outside of Ess-a-Bagel in the East 50s on a weekend morning. Or the faithful pilgrims who wait and wait and wait for a table at Sarabeth's on Madison Avenue and East 92nd Street or Bubby's in TriBeCa or the Clinton St. Baking Company on the Lower East Side.
Or, God knows, the zealots who flock to Times Square on New Year's Eve to say they were there when the ball dropped (I admit that I did this, too, when I was 22 - and then promptly vowed that I would never venture within a mile of that awful place on any December 31. Once bitten, twice shy!)
Why do we do it?
Yes, the pancakes are superb at Clinton, and there are fewer classically Manhattan brunch rituals than paying high prices to chow down at Sarabeth's (uptown) and Bubby's (downtown). But that can't be the only reason.
I have a theory. New Yorkers will wait in line for a long time just to say they did it. We are a hearty bunch here. We will put up with a lot of - well, stuff - just to have the satisfaction of saying that we did it. We feel somehow and and somewhat superior to the slackers who will slink off to an altogether acceptable diner for brunch. We thumb our noses at the be-happy idiots who don't have our sense of commitment.
We like the feeling of accomplishment that conquering this travail gives us. It doesn't take much, really, for us to feel like we have beaten The System. How great does it feel to charge through a subway turnstile and see the train approaching at that very instant? How fab does it feel when you and the bus arrive at a stop at the exact same time?
So, what's a half-hour - or even more - out of our lives to wait for an order of those pancakes?
And where did you go for brunch last Sunday?