Sunday, May 21, 2006

Thluppies 'R Us

We have reached a whole new level of Bay Area prototypicalness: We have hired a nanny. In keeping with our proximity to Berkeley, she's an eccentric hippie-lite nanny who's an operatically trained alto and moonlights as the lead singer of a 70s tribute band. Oh, and she teaches Pilates.

The hiring of the nanny, to be known here as Ms. Who, got me to thinking about how we arrived in this vaguely embarrassing petit-bourgeois place, the predictable bastion of the Thirtysomething Liberal Urban Professional. The Thluppy, if you will.

It all started when we moved from San Francisco to Oakland in 1999 and bought our house. (A derogatory term for those of us who fled SF at that time for the slightly more reasonable housing costs in The Other City By The Bay, driving up values in formerly marginal neighborhoods and therefore pricing out the locals, was coined a couple of years later--"The Ninety-Niners". We may consider Ninety-Niner as nearly synonymous with Thluppy.) Since then, we've unwittingly conformed to the unwritten Thluppy code as closely as the Maidenform Style 7948 conforms to my newfound milky bosom. (That milky part being literal. Drippy. Very drippy.)

Aside from the obvious characteristics of a Thluppy--such as voting for Barbara Lee--there are some subtler aspects, such as eschewing the "Barbara Lee Speaks for Me" bumper sticker, which instead is relegated to Cal students' twenty-year-old Volvos. Bumper stickers in general are just not very Thluppy, though the "Clean Air Vehicle--Access OK" decal on a Thluppy's de rigeur hybrid is more than acceptable.

So what else defines a Thluppy? A few things come to mind:

Lazy liberal guilt:

Thluppies clean the house before the cleaning lady arrives. But they have a cleaning lady.

Organic embarrassment:

Thluppies anxiously apologize for serving any farmers' market fruits or vegetables that are not both organic and sustainably farmed. Ditto on coffee. Thuppies may serve grocery store apples in an emergency but must peel off all labels and lay them out in a colorful ceramic fruit bowl before use. They do not, however, buy apples outside of apple season. Ever.

Solo commute:

While preaching the merits of conservation, public transportation and bicycle lanes, the Thluppy drives a minimum of twenty miles to work, alone. The Thluppy sops his conscience with the above-mentioned hybrid.


Thluppies generally disdain conspicuous consumption, but they count GPS systems and wireless networks as essential to their very survival. And they do not watch TV, they watch TiVo--on 36"+ flat-panel screens only. Additionally, the Thluppy considers non-artisanal cheese, 200 thread count sheets and being out of range of a local NPR station to be unbearable hardships. Living more than fifteen minutes from a Trader Joe's is completely out of the question.

American Jackass:

In keeping with the concept of American Jackass, as introduced on a recent This American Life episode, Thluppies often lecture confidently and in great detail on things about which they know only a smidgen. (An aside: This includes a common Thluppy assertion that couples are regularly using IVF to select the physical characteristics of their children, and did we choose Olivia's blue eyes when we had her whipped up in Dr. Frankenstein's lab?)


Thluppies form great attachments to the NPR anchors and sign numerous on-line petitions when the morning news host is canned in a marketing effort to reach a younger audience. This is, in part, because we still think we're young, damn any reproductive evidence to the contrary, and we listen.

Back to the Nanny:

When hiring a Nanny, the Thluppy emails her to ask what she'd like from Trader Joe's, what shows she'd like TiVoed and whether she wouldn't mind parking her hybrid on the street.

Is it any wonder that Middle America laughs at us?


Blogger Overwhelmed! said...

Based on your list, I'm a Thluppy. I didn't realize. We don't have a nanny, but many of the others. :)

2:47 PM  
Blogger kristenL said...

i would also like to add for the reset of the country to laugh at:
(we are still in SF, renting)
- we use cloth diapers, but we have a diaper service out of Berkeley.
- We (proudly, boastfully) don't own a car, we have City Car Share (so we can get to Rainbow Grocery and stock up on cotton washable breast pads, organic yams, and bulk granola.)
- have already brough the baby to a Pro-choice rally.
(i'll be 30 in 5 days, So I am not sure if I have to invent a new term to describe us "poor" souls who are bringing babies back to san francisco)

2:56 PM  
Blogger chris said...

Very funny.

By the way, when your company relocates you to North Carolina because of the favorable business climate, you people raise our housing prices because you think anything under $500,000 is an incredible bargain. Please stop that.

Otherwise, keep up the good work.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Mellie said...

I love this post, Bugs.

And I love that it makes me think you're doing a million times better.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Cass said...

This'll pretty much be us as soon as I manage to hire a cleaning lady.

(Also glad to hear you sounding more like yourself. That's lovely!)

10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're contemplating a move to Davis (most environmentally-friendly town in California, if not the US) but I don't know if I can do it for one reason and one reason only: they don't have a Trader Joe's there. What is up with that?

11:08 PM  
Blogger Pamplemousse said...

Nice to see a glint of my old Bugs in there ;)

1:40 AM  
Blogger Dramalish said...

I live much further up the Delta than Oakland, and we can only aspire to be Thluppies.

However, high school teachers and construction workers don't quite have the cash flow to pay the membership dues.

Therefore- it's disposable diapers, fruit from Raley's, and Grandma as a babysitter for us.

Let me know if there's ever a membership special in Thluppie world... maybe a two-for-one rate...

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Wavery said...

Because being thrity something isn't weird enough without inducting yourself into an unsaid clan.

7:41 AM  
Anonymous pixi said...

The struggle between the inner hippie and the inner yuppie! Well, you know, it costs money to be crunchy these days.

Hilarious post, Bugs. I hope this means that your spirits are lifting a bit.

9:09 AM  
Blogger amyesq said...

Mwaahaha! Must send this to my hubby. So many of them apply to us it's scary. Also, I think Seattle has a big Thluppy concentration. Less here in San Diego where conspicuous consumption is still the rule.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Libby said...

Hey, you are brilliant, as usual. Here in Seattle the Thluppies are legion.

The best thing about this post is your humor is back, which I hope corresponds with you feeling better. It's lovely to read.

1:14 PM  
Blogger HomeFireBlue said...

fabulous post! I heart you, thluppy or no. I never realised how polar opposite we are in lifestyle for being so similar in thought.

Rock on.

-Blue (rural tightwad, doesn't-own-a-telly ... and what is 'trader joes'?)

1:47 PM  
Blogger Katie (WannaBeMom) said...

I think we qualify as "middle America" here in Michigan, but I undoubtably Ann Arbor is outside that realm and in its own little thluppy world. Because, man, do we live there OR WHAT!

3:34 PM  
Blogger Indigo Wolf said...

LOL your list was too true. I babysit for many of those families that are still in the City. G and I aren't much different.

10:29 AM  
Blogger tonya said...

Seriously funny stuff, bugs!! I knew there was an acronym for folks like us, just didn't know it until today! I can totally relate to the hybrid, proximity to TJs, and hiring a nanny. Thanks for the smile today. :)

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So funny and so true.

I think I shall surely become a Bugs addict as I have been reading every post you've ever written, basically.

Hope you're feeling better than you were and maybe when people inquire as to why you haven't been feeling super chipper, you could just tell them to "relax, and it will happen."

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Sue/holdingpattern said...

You pegged life in the Bay Area alright!
Sounds like you are doing better?

4:50 PM  
Anonymous patricia said...

Does that make me a fluppy, being as I'm 42?

I never had a true nanny, but did rely on the short term nanny contractor before my son was in school. They were great.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Ericka said...

I'm a fluppy too! And an Oakland 99er -- though I tend to use Farmer Joes more than Trader Joes. I really enjoyed this post -- oops, gotta hurry to hit the farmer's market before I run out of organic locally grown veggies... Wait until you're packing Olivia's lunches (biodegradable styrofoam, anyone?)

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you okay?? Long time, no post. Hope all is well.

9:46 PM  

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