Yuppies and The Servant Problem

The Zoe Baird episode earlier this year revealed a deep American squeamishness on the subject of servants. We don't even have names we feel comfortable with for people who do this kind of work. "Nanny"? O.K. for news headlines -- nice and short -- but too arch and archaic for daily use. "Child-care worker"? Too clinical. And then there's the cleaning lady. "Cleaning lady"? Please! "Maid"? "The help"?

Yuppies (or are we now "yuppies emeritus"?) find the whole subject a minefield of embarrassment, as the remains of 1960s values rub against 1990s bourgeois affluence. And leaving home is no escape. Hotels,...

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