Slang City Mail

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July 7, 2007

Slang of the Week: manny (noun)
a male nanny

Jessica just had to invite her friends over for cocktails so they could admire her new manny.

Celebrity quote:
“People all across the country were hiring mannies, much like they had once hired female au pairs and mother’s helpers. Surfer mannies. Skiing mannies. Football mannies. Who knew?’”

—Author Holly Peterson in Vogue

While Holly Peterson’s new book about a rich New Yorker who falls for her manny has made this profession a hot topic, it’s hardly a new phenomenon for men to take care of children for money. (And according to some of my friends, they will occasionally do it for free if they can be shown a DNA match.) When I taught English as a Second Language in the 1990s, I had several male au pairs from Latin America and Europe in my Boston classroom, though they were not the norm.

But if the current hype is to be believed, an attractive manny is now the Park Avenue mother’s “must have” fashion accessory, not unlike the miniature dogs younger socialites were stuffing their purses with a couple of years ago.

In an effort to publicize the book, the author got her cousin Jay Peterson (along with Michael Jaffe) to create a music video about it. The result, which shows a bored and unhappy Manhattan cougar trying to seduce her manny, is rather surreal. The woman’s son in the video is played by a little person and the song is a parody of Hall and Oates 1982 hit Maneater. If you don’t remember that song, it’s on a related theme; the lyrics include the line, “The woman is wild, a she-cat tamed by the purr of a Jaguar.” I can’t remember if any Jaguar cars appear in this new video, but to see the cougars, check out
Take a look in our bookstore for books and DVDs on all kinds of slang! This week’s pick: Talk the Talk by Luc Reid. While this unusual dictionary of American subcultures does not have a chapter on Manhattan socialites, it does explain the special vocabulary of beekeepers, Antarctic scientists, puppeteers, furries and more. Curious about babyheads and Hollywood showers? Then you need this book!