Being a male nanny has its occupational hazards. Such as show and tell at school, teddy bear tea parties and getting shoved up against the wall by the daughter's single father and kissed within an inch of your life.
Jane: "Wanted: a nanny for two adorable children."
Mr. Banks: "Adorable? Well, that's debatable, I must say."
Leland sat in a stuffy suit and tie that he hadn't worn in years and he felt like the collar was trying to suffocate him. The balding Headmaster sat opposite him was dwarfed by his giant mahogany desk, his shirt buttons straining against his round stomach. A cheap plastic nameplate with peeling gold letters spelled the unfortunate name of Mr. Hitchcock. Leland could imagine all of the snickers and nicknames like Mr. Itchycock it produced from the older students.
It was two thirty on a Thursday afternoon and Leland was on his third and last interview of the day. Well, that was being a tad optimistic. He never made it past the headmasters secretary for his first interview (She looked like she had swallowed a lemon when her beady eyes settled on him and none-too-politely showed him the exit). For his second interview, he was treated to the novelty of being escorted off the school premises by two security guards who looked like they wanted to pound his face in for the fun of it.
Having parked his bum on the seat inside the Headmasters office, Leland counted it as a victory despite Mr. Hitchcock's extreme reluctance to meet his eyes. He was staring determinedly at a spot on the wall just above Leland's shoulder. Leland fought the urge to turn around and see what was so fascinating.
"Look, Mr. Adams, do you mind if I be totally honest with you?"
"Yeah. I mean, yes. That's fine." The Headmaster could do the funky chicken dance in nothing but a coconut bra and a grass skirt if it meant that Leland would get the job.
"I am very impressed with your application. You graduated with honours from a prestigious University and come with shining praise from your lecturers. I recognise the name Mr Oldfield."
Leland smiled. "He was my form tutor."
"Had a fondness for Cuban cigars, if I remember correctly. Anyway, I can't find fault with your work experience or your extracurricular activities."
Leland felt his smile start to slip at the corners. "There's a but in there somewhere."
It was now the Headmaster's turn to shift uncomfortably in his chair. "This school offers places to children from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures. We pride ourselves in being able to offer a safe and friendly environment for them to learn as they grow."
Leland tried to look like he was listening, but his attention was slipping. He had already read the website before attending the interview. Besides, he had an inkling as to where this conversation was leading.
Mr Hitchcock ploughed on regardless. "The parents put their trust in our hands to maintain a certain level of professionalism. If we hire you, the parents would protest against your uh…extra curricular activities."
Leland was pretty sure that 'extra curricular activities' alluded to him being a flaming homosexual. He swallowed the bitter anger welling up in his chest and shifted in his seat. "I understand that, sir. But my…extra curricular activities is my own business. I keep it discreet and well in my private life. There would be no breech of confidence with the parents and this school."
Mr. Hitchcock wrinkled his nose like he caught a whiff of something foul. "Be that as it may, we are able to offer all of the services to the children's education by the generous funds donated to us by upstanding citizens in society. I'm afraid that this school would risk losing said funds from very prominent donators, perhaps more." he waved his arm around, a gesture that Leland's sure was supposed to summarise every problem with him in the single flick of a wrist. "You understand the dilemma."
"A upstanding citizen of society." Leland intoned flatly.
"Exactly," the headmaster answered.
"You would be referring to Julian Moor, I take it."
"Well, yes." He coughed into his hand, visibly uncomfortable with the dark look on Leland's face, while simultaneously sliding the application back across the top of the desk.
Leland would have strongly disagreed with someone describing Julian Moore as an upstanding citizen of society, but he had a feeling that it would only anger Mr. Itchyco- Hitchcock. Julian was Leland's ex-lover, an official of the Education board for the government who was also several years older than Leland. They had met when Leland was still studying for a degree in primary education and he had been incredibly charming and swept Leland off of his feet.
However, it was only a matter of time when things came to a head. They had been dating for several months when Leland began to suspect Julian of being disingenuous with his feelings and was only interested in their 'relationship' for the sex.
Breaking it off was the best thing that Leland had done for years. However, Julian didn't take kindly to being dumped. In a fit of immaturity and spite, he had made it his mission to make sure Leland could never get a job working in a Primary School by putting it about that Leland was a raging fairy and couldn't properly look after kids.
Leland scrubbed a hand over his face in silent frustration, nearly knocking his wire-framed glasses off his nose. "But I'm qualified for the job. Like you said, I've got strong recommendations. I'm a teacher, Mr. Hitchcock, and I'd really like the opportunity to prove that."
Mr Hitchcock sighed and shook his head. "I'm sorry, Mr. Adams. I'm sure there's a position out there somewhere for you. Perhaps at a public school." It almost sounded like it hurt the man to say the last two words. Like just saying 'public school' was going to put him at risk of working in one.
Leland opened his mouth but closed it again. It was probably better not to tell him that Julian had been just as persuasive with public schools as he was in the hallowed halls of private education. That it was public schools that told him to try some of the more private places to begin with.
"Thank you for your time," Leland said and pushed his chair back. The words nearly stuck in his throat but he forced them past his lips anyway.
"Best of luck with your job search," The Headmaster said but didn't offer his hand to shake. Not that Leland would have accepted it anyway, the fucking homophobic prick. He resisted the urge to tell him to take his luck and shove it up his cowardly ass.
By the time he got home, he's moved past pissed and settled on something between resigned and just plain exhausted, not sure where the physical part of it ended and the mental began. The whole day had been a complete disaster. He dropped his bag by the door and flopped over onto the couch. He knew there were things he should be doing. Applying for more jobs was right at the top of the list, but it was also right at the top of the list of things he doesn't want to deal with. So he went for the next best thing on the list.
Two hours later found Leland with his legs kicked up on the coffee table watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and eating cereal straight from the box. He was far more relaxed now; the humiliation and anger of the day's events were shoved in a box in a very dark corner of his mind. This was helped by drinking copious amounts of milky tea and polishing off the last of the chocolate digestive biscuits he had kept for emergencies such as these.
"I didn't peg you as a Captain Pikard fan," said a voice from behind Leland's lounging form.
Leland gave a noncommittal shrug. "Not really. I'm more of a Spock man, but I take what science fiction I can get these days." He answered as he craned his neck over the back of the sofa to see his flatmate. Nathan stood framed in the living room door, still wearing his suit from work and staring at him like he was an idiot.
"I don't see what everyone sees in Spock," he grouched as he left the doorframe and slid into the seat next to Leland. "He's so damn wooden. And I don't get the eyebrows. They always remind me of my Aunt Dorothy's."
Leland shot Nathan a distracted glance. "What are you doing back so early? I thought you had a meeting with that Ogre you call a boss." Pun very much intended. Nathan worked in environmental conservation, trying to save the few remaining natural swamp habitats in the world.
Nathan shrugged and pulled off his tie, loosening the top button. "It got cancelled. I wanted to come back and see how your interviews went."
Leland scowled and jammed a fist full of cereal into his mouth.
"That good, huh?" Nathan asked, bemused.
"Julian has made me virtually unemployable. I'll never be able to get a job in primary education with him bad mouthing me and flashing his wallet around. How could I possibly compete with that?" Leland's smile was bitter as he chugged another cup of tea like it was going out of fashion, mopping up the slight spillage that dripped down his chin with the sleeve of his shirt.
"These are tissues," Nathan said sarcastically, pulling a handful out of the tissue box and handing them to Leland. "Useful human invention. Try some."
Leland grinned sheepishly and took the tissues. "Thanks mum."
Nathan diplomatically ignored the teasing jibe. "Julian again? That guy hangs around like some bad smell. Someone should take him down a peg or three."
Leland laughed despite himself. "Thanks. But I doubt that will ever happen. He could charm the pants off anyone when he put his mind to it." I'm no exception.
"Seriously, that sounds like harassment to me. Isn't there anything you can do? Somebody you can complain to? File a grievance or something?"
"Sure. I could file a formal complaint with the Education board that deals with these kinds of things. Demand an investigation, call for a hearing. But he has too many friends in high places. My name would be dragged through all the muck and the press would be all over it. I don't know about you, but I don't think the humiliation is worth it."
"That sucks," Nathan clucked his tongue against his front teeth. "So what are you going to do now?"
That was the question, wasn't it? "I really don't know. I have exhausted all the known avenues of primary education. I'm at a dead end."
You could always try something a little out of that field." Nathan suggested.
Leland's brows knitted together in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"Have you thought about trying for a position as a child nanny?"
Leland nearly chocked on his own tongue. Coughing, he stared at him with bewilderment. "You mean like Mary Poppins?"
Nathan just gave him a look. "Do you really want me to answer that?"
Leland waved his hand in the air. "Never mind, ignore that. No, I- A nanny is a woman's job," he said, wrinkling his nose. Not to sound too sexist or anything but really? A male nanny? He could picture himself in a pink frilly apron and picking school lunches for the kids. Throw in a duck umbrella and hey presto!
Nathan sighed in exasperation and rolled his eyes to the ceiling. Knowing Nathan and his creepy mind-reading skills, he knew exactly what was going on in Leland's head "Of course it isn't. A friend of mine was a male nanny," he said as he slid off the couch and stretched. "And he was earning enough money to afford two holidays a year to Barbados and a seasons England ticket for rugby. Think on that while I go take a shower." And with that little bombshell, Nathan left without so much as a look back.
Leland stared after him, his mouth unattractively agape. "Huh." He said thoughtfully and chewed on another handful of cereal.
Looking through the Nanny vacancies on the Internet, Leland was beginning to despair. Not one of them looked right for him (No he was not being picky. He was just being realistic).
Family seeking a Monday, Thursday and either Tuesday or Wednesday sole charge Nanny to care for an eight-year-old energetic and lively son. Must be fit and active and experienced with problem solving. Hours: 8:30am - 6pm.
Leland wasn't stupid, despite popular belief. He knew what 'energetic and lively' meant. Kid who needs to be tied to a chair and gagged, that's what.
Easygoing family seeks pleasant, enthusiastic, outgoing au pair, live out or live in. We need someone to start by the end of July, preferably before, to care for our two youngest children aged 2 and 4 and take them to the local nursery and playgroup, entertain them, paint and bake with them.
…Yeah, baking wasn't really his forte. In fact, cooking anything that wasn't grilled was pretty much a no go area all together.
About to give up and go make himself a cheese and onion toasty, an ad caught his eye and he clicked on it.
Fed Up With "Traditional" Nanny Care and domestic help
Busy, disorganized but well-intentioned divorced, single father with full custody of five-year-old daughter in desperate need of help keeping our lives on track.
Successful businessman with one foot in the corporate world. Can't do both with a five year old tucked under my arm. I'm looking for a patient assistant to help me reorganize my life for the better.
Traditional agencies have been a disaster of epic proportions. Looking for someone to foster my kid's creative spirit (she's got lots of that… as well as independence, curiosity, determination, and energy… really, a lot of that), manage our daily routines, housekeeping, help with homework, organizing special outings, errands, reminding me what day it is, chaperoning school trips, whatever needs to be done…Exorbitant salary and additional expenses covered for the right candidate.
I know. I'd be better looking for a housewife, but I tried marriage once and won't be trying that again.
Work hours vary (see "horribly irregular schedule") but Sundays, every other Saturday and nights after 7:30 are yours to do as you please… most of the time. Compensation will reflect any time that's not true.
"Huh," Leland said to himself and reread the ad. It took him fifteen minutes to change his resume and whip off a letter of interest, leaving out the part where he's desperate for income and would even consider lap dancing and sent an email to the address attached with a tune on his lips.
A couple of days later, Leland received an email with a very pleasing answer:
After pursuing your resume, I would like to set up an interview with you to meet you in person and for you to meet my daughter (the final and most grilling test of all). I am showcasing interviews on Saturday between one and four. Would two pm suit you?
Leland couldn't help but sag in relief. This had been the most promising of interviews since he had graduated with his degree. The fact that he had seen his name on his CV and not balked was very promising indeed. Not that he was really surprised, not everyone knew Julian. The ad had said the father worked in the cooperate world and he had wondered…
Typing a quick (and decidedly not desperate) 'yes, thank you', he sent it off with a silly grin on his face.
Things were beginning to look up for him.
Author's Notes: Hope you guys enjoy this, please leave feedback as it fuels the muses and I love to know what you think.