Cuming Clean

Nora doesn't like when I mention her cleaning woman.

"It makes me sound like I live on the East Side and I have three kids in private school," she says.

"But Nora, you live in Brooklyn Heights and you have two kids in private school."

I, on the other hand, live in Carroll Gardens. Not Brooklyn Heights. I rent, I don't have help, and my kid goes to public school. To me, Nora is fancy. But to the locals in Carroll Gardens, I am a yuppie.

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"How?" I say. "I don't have a cleaning woman. I barely have health insurance. I don't have a steady job."

"Yeah. But you're a yuppie," they say. "You're not from here. You eat organic shit. You went to college. We grew up here. We didn't go to college. We eat fast food. We beat our kids."

Then we laugh and I'm fooled into thinking we are friends and I've broken through a barrier. But Theresa and Maria won't let their kids play with mine. They will laugh with me. They will probably laugh at me. But they don't like me.

I unwittingly brought yoga, restaurants, and skyrocketing real estate to a neighborhood that just wanted to be left alone. My quiet tree-lined block is in the middle of a down-and-out class war. There is tension between the yuppies and the locals. Everyone knows that. But, what I want to know is: Who's having more sex? Us or them?

Tuesday 8:47 a.m. I follow yuppie Pam. Pam has matching blond children and the most dazzling, non-surgically-enhanced boobs in any hemisphere I've visited, which she is very discreet about. I didn't even know she had them until we made 259 cupcakes together last year for a PTA bake sale. They were simply breathtaking and I am not talking about the cupcakes. Or maybe I am.

"Pam," I call out.

"Oh, hi, darlin'. How are you?"

"Good," I say. (A total lie, incidentally, but Pam is too positive for me to really tell my troubles to.) "You?"


"Could I walk with you?" I ask. "I'm doing a little research. According to a book I read, a lot of married people our age are doing it 10 times a year and less. How often do you do it? Do you mind my asking?"

Pam blushes. She pulls the canopy tight on little Andrew's Maclaren.

"We sure do it less than before the kids. But"—she leans in close—"it . . . is almost more intense. It's like we get angry . . . and when we have sex . . . it all comes out and it's . . . " Pam is simply radiant as she struggles to find the words. "Yesterday, I was folding the laundry . . . and Andrew Sr. pushed me up onto the washer . . . he turned me over and spanked me and then he fucked me so hard in the ass during the spin cycle. I was completely not expecting it. It was amazing."

Now I don't want a cleaning woman, I want a washer/dryer.

At 10:02 a.m., I interview the kind of yuppie with a husband who works in the city, with a four-year-old and two toddler twins, two nannies, one of whom cooks and cleans. She won't answer my question. Obviously this yuppie and her husband only use their washer/dryer for laundry.

At 2:55 p.m., I stand with yuppie single mother Serena at pick-up. Her sex life is thriving. "Last night Paulo and I did not have intercourse," she says. "He just touched every inch of my body with his tongue for about three hours. It was so erotic. I had four unbelievable orgasms and he never even penetrated me. It is just not true that if you have children your sex life is dead."

May I take a moment to point out that Serena is not married? She has a boyfriend named Paulo who is obviously very talented. And Serena is 37. Thirty-seven is not 45. I have been both 37 and 45 and they are not the same thing. I wear the same jeans I did when I was 27. But at 27, the world and its possibilities beckoned me like a red carpet at an awards ceremony. There are still things beckoning me. But I am 45 now and I am afraid most of them will hurt my neck.

It's time to talk to the locals. But there's one problem. I'm a yuppie. The locals don't confide in me. Except for one. And I suspect she and her husband do it a lot.

"Are you crazy? Have sex with my husband? Never," she says.

"How often do you do it for real?"

"I don't know," she says. "Sometimes never. Sometimes it goes like two months and then sometimes we do it like five times a day for a week."

I went to college. I can do the math. They are off the charts! Even when they skip two months they are off the charts.

"Dang, Diavanna. I'm impressed. That hasn't happened to me actually ever." I offer coffee. She asks for milk.

"So," I continue, "where do you do it? When do you do it?"

"The washer/dryer, the kitchen, it don't matter. The kids are in school, what else are we going to do?" The words washer/dryer are like a knife in my heart. I can't stand it.

"At night," she says, "we go to a hotel."

"A hotel? What about the kids?"

"Babysitter," she says.

"I don't think I have that kind of disposable money."

"Oh, please. You use a kid. You pay them eight bucks," she says, like I am a total yuppie dum-dum.

"I use a kid. I pay her eight bucks. I still can't afford a night at a hotel and a babysitter. A hotel is like a hundred dollars."

"No," she says. "You do the short stay. Right on Hamilton Avenue. Forty bucks. You bring your stilettos. My husband likes the stilettos. You get the job done. Four hours. You go home. Whole things costs $72 including the sitter. You don't have that kind of money?"


"But I don't save," she says.

"Me neither."

"But I don't have nothing for the future."

"Me neither. How much rent do you pay?" I ask.

And this is when Diavanna explains the mystery of Carroll Gardens. Diavanna lives in the apartment her mother grew up in.

Diavanna pays $125 rent.

At the end of the month, Diavanna has more money than I do. Of course Diavanna and her husband fuck like bunnies, they go to hotels, they have a washer/dryer. I curse my life. I'll never get that kind of deal. And I'll probably never have the money to own a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights either. Then I remember: Small, attainable goals. A $600 washer/dryer . . . to fuck on and be fucked on . . . that seems within reach.

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