When the maid becomes the care-giver to whom you attach and attune, and its kinky and vanilla consequences
Growing up we had staff. Even after divorce, and the economic hardships it wrought, my single mother would have struggled without it. Even when we rationed the heat, kept the house insanely cold (Mistress, I wonder if I just discovered something), or had family meetings about what foods we were going to give up to make ends meet, we still had at least one maid.
In my loneliness as a child, I spent a ton of time with the maid (s). In my father’s house, particularly when we lived in South America, there were almost more staff than there were family members. Chauffeur, cook, two maids, gardener. The cook and one of the maids lived in and had an entire wing of the house that was theirs with its own courtyard, all the laundry equipment, and plenty of space and sunlight to hang things out in, and several “backstairs” passages to get to different parts of the house. I loved wandering in and out of this secret domain.
Our cook at the time was pretty. I loved her uniform. When you think classic French maid, but without the frills, and a sensible cotton or linen fabric, you have the idea. It was a grey with a very slight hint of blue. Elegant. It set off beautifully the white of the apron, and the long straps that went over her shoulders and crossed her back in an X.
To say that I loved her as only a child can love, would be true. I spent all of my free time with her, in the kitchen, watching her cook. She was an excellent cook, and sometimes she let me help. She was also unusual in the domestic world as she had a baby, and very few employers would have taken on a maid with a baby, but I guess that my father was enlightened in that sense…”We” had discovered her at a dinner party. When the discussion turned to how divine the food was, the hosts revealed that they were going to be leaving the country for a few years and that they were having a hard time finding a placement for their cook for the reason that she had a baby. Or so the story goes. She was hired that evening. And this is not uncommon—that one takes a personal interest in the placement and continued employment of one’s best staff.
I don’t know if there were spoken rules about her baby and his presence in our house, but she never brought him in, except for during staff mealtimes, when he would sit at the same little table as the rest of them and eat the simple dishes she prepared for them. It was peasant food. Rice and beans mostly. Sometimes chicken. I often ate with them, and I believe my love for this kind of cooking, perhaps my love of cooking more generally, was born in these moments at that little table in the corner of our vast kitchen.
Meal-times with the staff were always lively. They chatted and gossiped and laughed and joked. Driver and gardener would always come in last and leave first, going back to their domains and leaving the women to mingle. Her son developed a peculiar attraction to my eating habits, and there was a period where he would no longer eat if I had finished my food. That meant that I was asked to pace myself according to his meal, which I did without fuss. He must have been somewhere between 1 and 2 at the time, and was still not fully capable of feeding himself, but capable enough of refusing to be fed unless I was fed too. The maids began to take turns feeding me. Any readers will not be surprised at how readily I took to that.
There was something safe, intimate, and private about the kitchen. My parents never came there. Neither did my younger siblings. I wonder why thinking back. But their mother fed them herself. And my older siblings no longer lived at home. In some ways, outside of the staff, I was largely alone in our house. In some ways, I was very aware, even if not consciously, that I was not part of the “nuclear” family in this household.
Even living in his house, my father was largely absent. My memories of him were of his shouting, domineering, and bullying ways, and although he rarely, if ever, sought me out, I also avoided him. [Thoughts on my Father written about here].
The Maid Fantasy
Of course we all know that one of the most common fantasies in the BDSM world is of the man being forced into a French Maid outfit, perhaps being humiliated [which doesn’t sit well with me], or doing a bad job of cleaning because s/he’s so busy prancing and preening and sissy-ing about. Confession. I do own a maid’s outfit. And yes, it looks totally hot and not even a little bit ridiculous on me. But if a Dominatrix were to dress me that way and ask me to clean, the first and only thought on my mind would be to clean, and to do it well. I don’t have a fantasy about being a maid. I do have an obedience fetish, though, so pretty much anything that I could be asked to do by a Dominatrix, by the Dominatrix, will succeed in triggering my visceral obedience needs.
No. My maid fantasy is different. And hence the laying out of that particular aspect of my life. You see, even as a child, going back to babysitters and nannies, I liked the ones that both nurtured me and commanded me. I spent more time with maids and nannies than I did with my own parents, regardless of which household I was in, and I loved being “tied” to their apron strings. I loved being fussed over, but also being made to work alongside them. One of our maids, a feisty black woman, liked to have me with her at all times “so as to keep me out of trouble.” As she would say, she wasn’t going to be held responsible for the things she couldn’t see. She had that style and tone of delivery that one could not argue with. She carried the cleaning products around the house in a big woven reed basket and would have me sit on the floor next to it. She liked me sitting on the floor. And I did it without question. She also had a beautiful voice, and she would sing and hum her way through her work. Sometimes she sang to me. Lullabies. “Hush little baby…”. And when I chattered with two much energy or excitement, she would say, “hush child”. Oh yes. She had my number. Can you imagine a very high-energy ADD boy sitting still for hours on end, moving only to go to a new room? In the review on Gabor Mate’s book on ADD, Scattered Minds, one of the things he talks about is that often, to fufill the ADD child’s need for attachment and attunement (and this was written in relation to studying), all that a caregiver adult needs to do is to be in the room with the child to give the child the sense of being cared for. It worked for me. I adored her. I also wouldn’t have dreamed of being disobedient.
And because these women didn’t owe me anything, and certainly not their love, and because I wasn’t getting it from where I should have, I showed respect and politeness and obedience to these women, and indeed I still do, and these relationships with “the help” became a huge part of who I am. I did whatever I could that they would be affectionate and nurturing towards me…and they always were…and some of them demanded obedience of me, gently, but there was no mistaking it…and I was just like a puppy, wanting to give it, to show what a good boy I was.
And I could say with consistency, and with vestigial pride, that I was always obedient and charming to “the help”. Almost without exception, they became my confidantes, caregivers, nurturers and mother figures. Thinking back, I cannot think of one long-serving member of our household crew that I didn’t have this kind of relationship with. But to my mother and older siblings I was a “brat”, criticised, tortured and teased by them…but here, in these relationships, I found both solace and comfort. And I loved them all the more for telling my mother at least, “no, he’s no trouble at all. He’s an absolute angel.” She may have been incredulous, dumbfounded, non-plussed, perplexed, but honestly, what do you expect? You reap what you sew.
And as I grew up, this feeling of submission and happiness has grown with me and followed me. In my professional life, I became the secretary of a woman who absolutely dominated me in every way—not just at work but in my personal life. I do think I was her slave in all aspects—I wore what she told me to wear, I read what she told me to read, I loved and slept with the GF’s she approved of, I invested in what she told me to invest in, and I worked my ass off for her, spent my time thinking about what I could do for her, and listened to her relentlessly as she taught me how to write, how to communicate, how to work, how to be organised, how to do a good job. Does that make it sound like I was passive? It was just the opposite. She more than anyone in my life up to that point encouraged me to speak up, to argue with her my points, to debate, to assert myself—she wanted the best of me, not a “yes man”. And I became a great secretary and from there, got my first executive position—one hell of a jump, and one through which she held my hand. And she has stayed my friend and sometimes advisor both in her own stellar career and also in mine, and I love making her proud of me, because I know a part of what I have done has been her handiwork, and it is a pleasure to be able to render that credit to her.
One of my lifestyle Dominatrix friends once wrote about keeping her slave/partner under her desk as she worked. She kept him there all day. I so understand his feeling. And this coming from a person who even struggles to sit still long enough for 10 minutes of meditation. But the thought of being in submission, quietly, is one that does not daunt. I could easily imagine spending a day this way.
So, no, I don’t fantasise about being the slave of a maid. I didn’t fetishize the experience to that extent. But I do like being taken into a woman’s world, in the world of her work, and being there as she does her work, of doing her work with her, of helping her…and my version of cleaning for her is not about the clothes or any such classic trappings, it is about genuinely stepping into her own professional life, that me being me is of genuine and real use to her, not just fun. A slave can be a CEO. What happens when the act of slavery is so inextricably tied up with being that CEO? What if you become the CEO through her guidance, because of her guidance, or with her guidance?
Our cook, referred to above, understood and kept my secret. When confronted with “we seem to be using up the diapers awfully fast,” by my stepmother, the accusational implication that the Pampers were ending up on the cook’s son, she didn’t say a word. But in a household with staff the maids come to know all your secrets. Where you hide things, what you do alone in your room, what you wear to bed at night. She kept my secret. They all did, and for that, they have my undying love.
She’s still in my family too. She provided the introduction to one of my own children’s nannies. She still loves to feed me, and when I visit my parents, she often prepares dishes that she knows I love and brings them over, even though she stopped working for my family decades ago. To see her smile and take interest and make effort, and to see how tiny she is compared to me, but how big she was for me at the time and in life…well it fills my heart with respect and love for her.
Here is one of my favourite recipes for hers, as it takes me straight back to the kitchen in South America so many years ago.
Arroz con Pollo
Crispy legs of chicken served with rice, roasted potatoes, and pickled onions. Mmm.
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 chicken legs with drumstick and thigh
- 1 medium red onion, minced fine
- 4 cloves of garlic, smushed to a paste in a mortar
- Pinch of cumin
- 1 tablespoon ají amarillo chili pepper paste, or one fresh chilli, veined and seeded and minced fine
- 1 tablespoon ají panca chili pepper paste, or one fresh chilli, veined and seeded and minced fine
- 1 large bunch of fresh cilantro…about 1 cup very finely chopped
- 2 cups white long-grain rice
- 1 cup chicha de jora—corn beer (or malted amber beer)
- ½ cup of fresh green peas
- 1 large carrot, diced small
- 1 red bell pepper julienned
- 3 cups caldo do pollo, fresh chicken stock
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup salsa criolla condiment
Make the Chicken and Rice. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, over medium heat, with a small quantity of cooking oil, fry the chicken to give it some colour on the skin, turning it as needed. Remove and set aside.
Add in the finely chopped onion, garlic paste, the two aji pastes, and the cumin and sweat on medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the cilantro very fine. Stir the cilantro into the onion mix and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the chicken and cook, covered, for 20 minutes, until the chicken is done. Remove the chicken pieces and set aside.
Add the rice, carrots, and peas to this same pot, stir well, and add the stock and chicha (if you are not using chicha or beer, you may simply increase the amount of stock). Bring to a gentle boil without the lid, and then, as soon as it is boiling, cover, reduce the heat to low, and let the rice cook until done. About 15-20 minutes.
- 1 large red onion, julienned
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 aji amarillo or limo chilli
- 4 sprigs of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Juice of 1 Persian lime or 3 creole limes
- Salt and pepper to taste
Make the Salsa Criolla. Slice the onions into very fine julienee—thin ½ moon slices and separate the pieces. Sweat the onions by salting them generously and leaving them in a colander to drain. Take care to make sure the salt is evenly rubbed and distributed through the onions. Sweat them for between 15 minutes and one hour.
Seed and vein the aji amarillo and then chop into small pieces. Chop the cilantro. Add the pepper and cilantro to a bowl with the lime juice. Rinse the onions well under cold running water, and then pat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
Mix the onions into the bowl, add the olive oil, stir to combine, and then season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt. Let this blend marinate for 10-15 minutes in the fridge before serving.
To serve. Place a portion of rice on a plate, add a piece of the chicken, and a nice spoonful of salsa. Serve it forth. Serves 4. Divine.
My conclusion from all of this? That we seek out love and acceptance wherever we can get it, increasingly further afield if it isn’t coming to us from our parents. And that sooner or later that search creeps into our sense of the erotic. And situations, smells, foods can all become deeply relevant triggers. We might call things “comfort” food when they remind us of the healing foods that we might have eaten when sick–eg. chicken soup. We might think of anything Christmasy in the food world as speaking of togetherness and family. And who is to say that these very feelings cannot be profoundly erotic.