too bougie or not bougie

If I haven’t mentioned it, I’m from Long Island; born and raised in Amityville, yes that Amityville. Growing up on LI leaves a lot to be desired. I spent the majority of my formative teen years conniving my way to “The City” which usually meant Jamaica Avenue in Queens to buy clothes. My parents definitely did not want baby girl hanging out in the NYC so any and all excursions had to be kept on the hush hush and I was pretty much on lockdown the rest of the time. After high school I fled Amityville so quickly I left a poof of cartoon smoke at my heels.

When given the opportunity for freedom I ran to…Richmond, Virginia which I found to be about a half-step below Amityville. Yeah, long story, maybe I’ll tell it in another post. Anyway, four years of college in VA and an extra couple of years thereafter made me realize I needed to be in Brooklyn. Here’s the weird thing, I didn’t really know anyone from Brooklyn and definitely did not hang out there in my youth but it held an allure for me like, I guess, those who feel the pull of Hollywood. There was something about Brooklyn.

After two years and five address changes, I made it to the Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill/BedStuy area; one street away from Biggie’s old stomping grounds, around the corner from Chubb Rocks’ Treat ‘Em Right lyrics, and a world away from Amityville. It was love at first sight. I’m glad I trusted that cosmic pull to Planet Brooklyn. It’s been over ten years and I’m still in the honeymoon phase. Of course there are things that need to be fixed but like any good relationship I’m willing to overlook the flaws for the overwhelming benefits of being with BK. But I think I’ve undergone an unexpected change. I think I may have become, I hesitate to say, one of them – a bougienubian. You are probably unfamiliar with this term since a friend of mine coined it in a conversation a few years ago to describe a sect of Beautiful Black People who invaded Brooklyn in the early 90s looking for a creative place that was not Harlem where they could freely roam from brunch to brunch with the right people but not too commercially known in between frequenting the arts festivals where they purchase authentic African masks to adorn their abodes while maintaining a close-knit circle of their other bougienubian friends.

My friends and I would joke about their fabulousness and how “special” the bougienubians behaved. Now, as I sit in my adorable one-bedroom abode gazing at my authentic South African artwork planning a Sunday brunch (complete with mimosas) I’m noticing a slight change in my outlook on life. Specifically, a recent event has me concerned.

My stats are similar to many in my immediate world – 30s, single, childless but my entrée into the world of Facebook has reconnected me with many from my past who have wed, given birth, and still live in Amityville. In fact, this weekend I plan to have a late lunch with a few girlfriends from high school. I initially left the details to their discretion since I’m traveling to LI to meet with them. My mistake. Their first suggestion was a seafood restaurant. I cringed when I read the e-mail because I don’t eat seafood however, I figure there’s always a chicken dish available. As I’m known to do, I google the joint. Good news is the place is Zagat-rated but let’s take a look at some actual reviews:

“Good raw bar, cheap, cheap lobsters, bring the kids and wear a t-shirt. Have fun.”

Bring the kids? Wear a t-shirt?

“Like an indoor picnic. If you like paper plates and plastic utensils – then this is for you.”

Did he just say paper plates and plastic utensils in a restaurant?

“No ambiance whatsoever but…the best fresh seafood served cafeteria style. You can pig out and make a big mess…”

Oh hell no! This is wrong on so many levels. Luckily, another person from the group doesn’t like seafood and requests another locale. Whew. Do you want to know the next suggestion? IHOP. Yes, the International House of Pancakes, where we would go as teenagers after a late night of hanging out ‘cause it was cheap and well, open. IHOP. They want me to hop on the Long Island Railroad to feast on a short stack of pancakes. Really?

Granted, LI is not a hotbed of entertainment but it’s certainly capable of maintaining a decent array of dining opportunities. I can no longer hold my silence and carefully construct an e-mail to offer alternatives. Remember, I’m the one that started with “I’m leaving it up to you guys” and now I’m clearly saying, “Damn, y’all can’t even pick a decent restaurant!” I tread lightly because I want to respect budgets but there’s got to be a better place:

Okay, I’m just putting this out there since I’m neither married nor anybody’s mama but don’t y’all want to go somewhere more befitting four very attractive young women out on the town sans spouses and children? I’ll even settle for an Applebees or TGIFridays or any place that allows for good food and good conversation.

Yes, I said I would stay out of the decision and yes, I obviously lied.

The immediate reply is…TGIF! Yeah, I wrote it but it was supposed to be a foot-in-door approach to allow for them to think beyond IHOP. I now know better. I’m about to strong arm the situation (like a true Brooklynite) and it dawns on me that they’re actually happy with this choice. I’m the one pushing for a “real” restaurant. I take a moment to breathe and see what’s happening. These are my friends and this is their LI life and I’ll be happy to visit for a couple of hours. If I must endure an afternoon dining without a wine list I guess it’s okay. At least I won’t have to use a spork.


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