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.
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.
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.
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?