Maybe it was your own Nannies, whom you loved so dearly.
Maybe it was Mary Poppins and Maria in The Sound of Music.
They both infiltrate a household with songs and magic tricks.
They both are heroes by the end.
They both were played by Julie Andrews.
You ask Mary who is herself a nanny
And she tells you
the only ones to worry about are the young Cool Hip Moms
the ones who asked about your crazy plans this weekend with a faux deviousness
or tell you how bad they used to be in their 20s
Mary tells you the young mothers’ smiles get tighter and tighter.
Is it a thing, you ask, because they’re afraid you’ll seduce the husband?
Don’t flatter yourself, she says. And stop watching so much porn
You start working for a young hip mom. She wears clogs and takes pilates. She calls her husband her “baby daddy” in the casually stunning interpolation of Ebonics that wealthy white women selectively employ. She has Aesop soap in the bathroom and Maldon salt in the kitchen. She laughs easily, and compliments your outfits.
You remember what your friend said about Cool Hip Moms.
Her daughter likes you, thank God. She’s cooler than most four year olds you’ve met. She can play songs by The Zombies on piano and wears clothes that cost more than your cool little outfits. She tells you are funny. You think: My new best friend is four.
One day, you are late to pick up the daughter.
One day, you forget to pack a snack.
One day, Cool Hip Mom registers her perfume on you.
One day you want to show her a photo of her daughter, and your audio porn starts playing. You decided watching porn just makes you sad, and you have a vivid imagination anyway. Young Hip Mom definitely hears it, the labored breathing of people fucking, emanating from the phone of her child’s nanny. You scramble to turn it off but can still feel it between the both of you.
One day her daughter says to her mom, in front of you, that she wants to go to art school, just like you. And it is the first time you realize, her mom does not want her daughter to be like you.
“You want to go to art school! That’s news!” Tight smile. You imagine her thinking How dare you. You think I pay this much a year for my daughter to go to art school? To have her get a BFA in Fucking Around, and then spend her days looking after other people’s kids? And you wonder what your own mother thinks of you.
It occurs to you that you are not the victim.
It occurs to you that she’s the one enduring your presence, that she’s letting a little creep with arguably a myriad of undiagnosed mental health issues into her home, daily.
And yet her kids don’t want you to go, and she continues to bankroll your pitiful tchotchkes, your nights you won’t remember, your self-help books you’ll never read.
At a certain point, she stops asking what crazy plans you have for the weekend. She doesn’t comment on your outfits. You wonder how often she recalls the audio porn incident.
When she says you can go home early, the daughter bemoans you leaving. You look in Cool Hip Mom’s direction and feign feeling put-upon, exaggerated rolling eyes. It’s a bid for forgiveness, to say you know you’re beneath her. She looks at the floor. No tight smile. You’re not friends. She says she’ll pay you for the usual time.