We Americans have made a mockery of lunch. Spain started a lunch in 1352 and it still hasn't ended. I'd like to give you an insight as to how it goes in DC. If you disagree, feel free to make an ass of yourself in the comments section below.
Stage 1: You bring your lunch every day because you are a poor kid just out of college working for sweatshop wages. You are heavily reliant on admins to tell you when and where office lunch leftovers will be available. You go out to lunch almost never and only if someone else is paying. You actually have an outfit on reserve for the day you get invited to go to lunch at a place like McCormick and Schmick’s (think department Christmas lunch).
Stage 2: You still bring your lunch to work and pick through the post lunch meeting leftovers, but you've figured out that there is such thing as a "free lunch" in DC. You now know that there is often free food served at little seminars on random topics all over the city. All you have to do is sign up, show up, eat and try to listen to whoever is speaking. You're living on a very carb heavy diet at this point and know exactly which sandwich place has the best catering options. The cheap beer you consume after work isn't helping your ever-growing waistline.
Stage 3: Something changes - you've either received your first big raise, stopped giving a shit about paying off your credit card each month or decided to move into a more rent friendly situation with nine of your soon-to-be ex-friends. You start to eat out at lunch. You don't go to Morton's or Ceiba. You eat at little sandwich shops and those buffet style fat factories where they weigh your food so you know how much it costs and exactly how much you'll gain consuming it. You only care to hear from the admins when cookies are left over from an afternoon meeting. Depending on who's catering the event, you still go get some free lunches from time to time - the Press Club is always worth it. You mainly go to see old free lunch friends you met in stage 2. Napkin in lap type lunches are starting to become a little more common, but not even a monthly thing yet. You become a restaurant week asshole and even save your money to go eat over-priced specials cooked by the kitchen's b-team twice a year. You order the Filet because eating at these places is still a novelty. You now know that some people have a glass of wine or a beer with lunch and do not get fired. However, you're not sure how a person pulls this off yet.
Stage 4: Much like Stage 3 except you have found someone with a corporate card that can supply a napkin in lap lunch every few weeks. You have a glass of wine with your filet and live to tell the tale. You decide that all other life goals are now second to eating at a fine restaurant every day for lunch. You're even more of a restaurant week asshole than you were before - you photograph your food. You scoff at the free lunch crowd.
Stage 5: Major change has come. You eat out every day. Sometimes it's just a quick stop at Devin & Blakely, but you have regular lunch dates at nicer places. You're ordering from all over the menu with confidence now and not worrying about missing out on that filet. You frown upon consuming office provided lunches and judge those who do partake in them. You skip eating when you’re required to be there for a lunch meeting and go out afterward. You and your old free lunch buddies get together at Morton’s once a month to laugh at your former selves.
Stage 6: You've really hit your career stride and lunch is no longer yours to have. Lunch is when you meet with the people you couldn't meet with for coffee, at the office or at dinner. Sometimes you have two lunches a day and all you really want to do is workout because you're getting fat from all the lunching. You eat part of an appetizer and have soup at the first one and a salad at the second – you can’t be rude, right? Lunch has turned into a monster that has made you despise it. Lunch is work. Work is lunch. You have dinner with your old free lunch buddies because lunch is not where happy things happen. Your original lust for a lifestyle of great lunches has come back to bite you in the ass.
Stage 7: You are the top dog now. You are near retirement. You eat lunch at 11:30 and brag to the waiter about how you used to have two lunches. He does not care. You order what you can pass easily and won't make you so gassy. You’d have a glass of wine with lunch, but you already had too much champagne with breakfast.
Stage 8: Die. Depending on who you lobbied for you might be in hell with eternal lunches to attend.