Charles Murray's controversial new book (the conservative theorist doesn't write any other kind) includes a questionnaire which purports to show how much his white, upper-class readers are shielded from everyday American society. According to Coming Apart: The State of White America, "If you grew up in ...Northwest Washington, you or your parents had to take proactive steps to force you out of the bubble." You can gauge how well they did by answering questions such as "Have you ever bought a pick-up truck?" and "Have you purchased domestic mass-market beer to stock your own fridge?"
Since Murray didn't grant me any extra authenticity points for my Ford Ranger not having a speedometer or choosing Miller High Life instead of Michelob Ultra, I scored a 58. But I'm not too worried about the width of my bubble, since I've not only worn a uniform (question 20), I wore one as recently as the day I reviewed Anthony's Seafood Grill at Alderwood Mall.
Although Anthony's first inland location has been on my to-review list since the restaurant opened, I didn't have a chance to visit until the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when I spent the day stationed at Macy's as a perfume demonstrator. If you're bouncing through pop culture in a bubble measured in microns, you're probably already wondering whether I got to spray the must-have scent of the Christmas season. Reader, I still have the Bieber blotters to prove it.
I know nothing about fragrance, but I'll occasionally work promotional events to help pay the bills. The experiences are almost always fascinating. As a temporary Someday by Justin Bieber sales rep, I learned 1. Perfume is what every eight-year old girl wants for her birthday. 2. Children of all ages and speakers of all languages know the word "Bieber." And they smile when they say it. 3. Eight hours of handing out perfume blotter cards can make you very hungry.
After my shift, Anthony's seemed like the perfect spot for dinner. It offered all the mindless comforts of a generic mall restaurant, but I didn't have to abandon my food philosophies to eat there. The seafood at Anthony's is fresh, the ownership is local and its preparations are regionally-rooted. Sure, the presentations are dated, and I might not trust the busy kitchen with a costly piece of fish. But my meals at Anthony's persuaded me the gripes I'd heard about the restaurant came from eaters living in very thick bubbles indeed.
If the nation's eaters are going to spurn industrial, trucked-in, mass-produced food, that grand rejection likely won't take place in farmer's markets and community gardens: It will unfold around comfortable tables like those at Anthony's, where diners can order a plate of steamed clams and onion rings for $13.95 and loosen the collars on their work uniforms.