Julie Andrews, Fran Drescher, Jo Frost: Meet Tessy the 26-year-old Park Slope blogger, who joins you now in the pantheon of iconic nannies, another magnet for contemporary fantasies about class, parenthood, female autonomy, and whatever else we talk about when we talk about paid child care. A key difference in Tessy’s case being that the fantasies aimed this ex-nanny’s way have mainly been those of her ex-employer, Helaine Olen, journalist and author of the most furiously stomped-upon New York Times article in recent Web history, a personal essay recounting the envy, titillation, sympathy, and mounting dismay she felt on peering into her babysitter’s online journal and finding, “[a]mid the musings on poetry and fanatical analysis of the ‘Gilmore Girls’ . . . accounts of semi-promiscuous couplings and tales of too much drinking for my comfort.”
Poor Olen. The semi-promiscuity, the discovery that Tessy considered Olen’s brownstone not so much a second home as, shockingly, a workplace: It was all too much for her in the end. “Contemplated sterilizing myself yesterday,” Tessy posted at the end of a hard week’s nannying, and though on a scale of June Cleaver to Joan Crawford the remark was roughly an Erma Bombeck, Olen felt she’d crossed a line and dooced her (yes, blog-related firings are now so common they get a verb of their own). But Tessy wasn’t down yet. After Olen’s essay appeared, she posted a response so solidly exposing its rank factual distortions it was clear even Olen’s editors should have known better—and suddenly the affair was more than just your standard super-nanny psychodrama. It was The New York Times, established journalism itself, out for another blog-bashing but caught, this time, in as reckless a disregard for fact and proportion as it had ever lectured the Web’s uncredentialed masses about. The masses ate it up, of course.