I caught up with my cousin, Bruce Edgerly, yesterday in Boulder. He is an owner and the marketing shaman for a company named Backcountry Access. “Brucie,” as I knew him when he was the baby of the cousins on my father’s side of the family, is one focused hombre, an entrepreneur and extreme outdoorsman who arrived to meet me at lunch wearing classic Boulder executive garb: shorts, biking shoes, helmet, and “Avalanche Jam” t-shirt. I wore my usual blue blazer and button-down shirt. We could have been Central Casting’s idea of Two Guys Living in Wildly Separate Worlds. No matter. We had lots to talk about it. And I had questions.
First, what did he mean by the motto his friends quoted at his wedding, which was at least a decade ago? “Lunch is the Anti-Christ,” is how I remembered it. “No,” Bruce corrected me. “BRUNCH is the Anti-Christ.” The axiom arose from a skiing trip to Jackson Hole when Bruce was totally focused on getting to the slopes in time for the perfect early melt of spring snow, as opposed to a late start which would mean skiing in slush. A quick breakfast = perfect skiing. Brunch = Slush. It was that simple. Bruce, who wrote for skiing magazines before founding BCA with a buddy, also named Bruce but known as Bruno, later stirred up a hornet’s nest of reader response when he put his credo into print. He was writing about a George Plympton-style experience of extreme skiing that had been blissfully free of “high-maintenance girlfriends and brunch-eating wives.” For the record, Bruce’s kindred-spirit wife, Karen, is not a brunch eater.
“Is there a corollary to this axiom?” I asked Bruce. He thought for a while. He is a man unafraid of his own silences. “Yes. Happy Hour.” Well, of course. The point is that there is no point to Happy Hour. It isn’t work–Bruce has no problem schmoozing over drinks for business–and it isn’t skiing or family. So it’s as much of a waste of time as brunch.
Bruce has a buddy who is all for brunch and Happy Hours, and their friends have tended to align themselves with one or the other spiritual leader. “As we’ve aged..” Bruce began. I assumed he was going to say that his brunch-loving friend is gaining converts, but no. “As they realize they are running out of time, more of them are coming to see it my way,” Bruce said.
By this time we were walking across from the brewpub to Backcountry Access world headquarters, a 7,500-square-foot beehive of boxes, computer terminals, avalanche trackers, and staff dressed as casually as Bruce, including one guy walking around in his bare feet–economical anti-static gear, he explained. I was introduced 10 or 12 times as “my cousin Lennie,” a monikor I haven’t gone by in 40 years, but it sounded nice so I didn’t protest. The business had a happy hum to it, with a FedEx truck pulling up to the shipping dock to receive a big shipment of boxes to a customer and back room piled to the ceiling with boxes coming or going.
My cousin Bruce delighted me with his terse and smiling account of how he sees life. He has inspired me to look around for the equivalents of brunch or Happy Hour in my own life, things which are not in themselves bad but do get in the way of what I love. I might start with The Financial Times…