Not only that, we can identify several a la carte choices by name: saba, ikura, toro, matsui, nomo, etc. We also frequent foreign films, can distinguish between a pinot noir and a cab and own not a single book with an embossed foil cover.
You know that pewter eagle with arrows clenched in its talons you have over your tweed sofa? We don't have one of those. And we don't know what Kelly Clarkson looks like, and we know the capitals of central Asia and are in a weekly book group with Sean Penn.*
We are, in short, better than you.
We tolerate you just fine, in our condescending humanist way, but outside of the NFL East and the genome, we have nothing in common. So on Sunday, after we sleep in and you get done at megachurch, let's not meet at Applebee's.
We don't do Applebee's. Because...well, because one just wouldn't. If the laminated 4-color menus didn't put us off, the advertising would in its pathetic, witless attempt to portray a meal there not only as "dining" but "fun."
Fun at dinner? Oh, the quaint notions of the hoi polloi! Those red counties and their Middle American "tastes."
So why, even to our rarified elitist selves, is the new Applebee's commercial so irresistible?
Just sit right back and grab some tails
The tails of some tasty shrimp
Sensations now at Applebee's
Are really worth the trip
Sauteed, crisp fried or fire-grilled,
Served on a handy skewer
So many shrimp you'll want to plan
A three-hour tour, a three-hour tour.
So join us here this week my friends
It's time for eatin' good.
Shrimp sensation new at Applebee's
In your neighborhood!
If by some chance these lyrics don't jump right out at you, just reread them to the tune of the "Gilligan's Island" theme.
Got it now?
Settle down there. We know it's stupid. We're the one with the collected works of Montaigne on our nightstand, all right? You don't have to tell us what to feel superior about. But this thing is gloriously stupid-even before the majestic rhyme of skewer and tour, sung by two guys not in the role of modern-day Gilligan and the Skipper, but more like a Greek chorus, or Stubby Kaye and Nat King Cole in "Cat Ballou," or the two guys who song-narrated "Something About Mary."
The point is the act isn't just insipid; it's self-consciously insipid.
Which is to say: ironic, a quality hitherto absent from Applebee's advertising in all forms.
So, yes, we are baffled. What came over this advertiser and Foote Cone & Belding, Chicago, we cannot imagine-anymore than we can imagine why once upon a time adult Americans watched "Gilligan's Island."** But whatever prompted this unprecedented spasm of uncluelessness, we certainly approve.
We even took note of the Applebee's shrimp in question. And while we'd sooner give up The New York Times and Slate than set foot in the place, we've got to say, the little suckers looked pretty damn good. In fact, this is a menu item that may even qualify as dining. And the commercial-Jean-Luc Godard, stir not in your grave-is, like, totally fun.
**We preferred Mary Ann.