They live in or near a major city, claim to be between 25 and 45 years old, aspire to six-figure salaries and bodies like Jane Fonda's. They like high tech, living spaces (lofts in converted factories), make their own pasta, play squash, are into stress adaptation, wear gold Rolexes, own every Cuisinart attachment and consider Woody Allen, Ralph Lauren and Nora Ephron their spokespeople. They are Yuppies, the burgeoning breed of Young Urban Professionals looking to a fulfilling (and lucrative) tomorrow. To further identify and classify this group, Long Shadow Books has just published The Yuppie Handbook, written by two Manhattan Yuppies, Marissa Piesman, 32, a lawyer, and Marilee Hartley, 38, a trade publication copy editor. Originally the women started out to write a cookbook, but book-packagers Connie Herman and Roseann Hirsch expanded the concept and are so excited by it that Berman says, "Nineteen eighty-two was the year of the preppy, but we think 1984 will be the year of the Yuppie." The authors discussed the Yuppi-fication of America with reporter Toby Kahn.
How did you devise the word Yuppie?
Piesman: We've heard variations of it—Y.P. is a West Coast phrase, also Yo-Pro, Young Elite and Valley Crowd.
Hartley: We picked Yuppie because it sounded like preppy and hippie and had the right ring.
What's the essence of being a Yuppie?
Piesman: Basically, it's knowing what's happening.
Hartley: And being successful in a highly recognizable and lucrative field that's valued by our culture.
Can anyone be a Yuppie?
Piesman: Yes. As long as they are high achievers and career oriented.
What's the difference between a Yuppie and a preppy?
Piesman: Anyone can be a Yuppie, but not everyone can be a preppy. Yuppie is more an achieved state while preppy is an inherited state.
Hartley: It's much trendier to be a Yuppie. They have a certain savoir faire.
Your book describes several ethnic variations?
Piesman: Yes. There are Buppies—Black Urban Professionals.
Hartley: Bryant Gumbel and Vanessa Williams
are both Buppies. Of course, it wouldn't be Yuppie to be Miss America unless you are the first black one.
Are there others?
Hartley: Guppies are Gay Urban Professionals. Huppies are Hispanic Urban Professionals and Puppies are Pregnant Urban Professionals. There are also Juppies—Japanese Urban Professionals. They know what to do with raw tuna.
Piesman: In Boston there are a lot of Muppies—Medical Urban Professionals. Instead of talking about real estate, which New York Yuppies do, they talk DNA.
Food seems to be a Yuppie obsession. What can be found in their kitchens?
Hartley: Fresh herbs are de rigueur. Coriander is especially stylish. A Yuppie pantry will always contain raspberry vinegar, several different mustards and French roast or Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee beans.
Piesman: Chèvre—goat's cheese—is very popular and arugula, radicchio or wild chicory are chic greens.
What would be a typical dinner party menu?
Hartley: There would be an array of appetizers. Sushi, gravlax and smoked trout are in.
Piesman: Next would be a pasta course with three kinds of mushrooms. Then fish. Swordfish or salmon steaks. And homemade sherbert.
When Yuppies eat out, what kind of food do they like?
Piesman: Chinese food holds its own in the middle of the workweek or when it's raining out. But Szechuan food has almost become pedestrian.
Hartley: Japanese, Mexican and variations on Asian cuisine, like Burmese and Indonesian, are trendier now.
What would you expect to find in a Yuppie restaurant?
Hartley: Ceiling fans, dark green walls with white tin ceilings, mesquite grills and a piano player who specializes in As Time Goes By.
Piesman: You won't find place mats with crossword puzzles, salad bars with macaroni salad and artificial bacon bits, American cheese omelettes or waitresses named Millie, wearing short white dresses.
Brunch seems to be especially popular in Yuppiedom. Why?
Hartley: It's like their Sabbath...a kind of religious ceremony.
Piesman: Any meal Yuppies eat on Sunday is considered brunch. You can put in a 9-to-5 day at it.
Do they go to the movies much?
Hartley: Films are probably the favorite Yuppie art form. It's something you don't have to schedule ahead of time and just takes a couple of hours.
Piesman: And they love directors—especially foreign ones like Werner Herzog and François Truffaut, because its somewhat more intellectual than loving stars.
What about vacations?
Hartley: The Hamptons, of course. Rafting in the Rockies is in. Backpacking in the Sierras. Many go to Australia, Peru or carnival in Rio, basically anyplace that is exotic and undiscovered.
Piesman: The Yucatán is Yuppie because you can hang out at the beach and also see ruins, which are intellectually stimulating.
Are clothes important?
Piesman: Yuppies wear a basic office uniform during the day and tend to throw a lot of money into exercise clothes.
Hartley: Striped leotards have become especially popular since Jane Fonda lifted her disciplined leg on the front of her workout book.
Polyester, presumably, is out?
Piesman: Definitely. It has to be 100% natural fabric. And Yuppies wear only running shoes. No high-top sneakers, unless they are by Norma Kamali.
What's the proper upbringing for a Yuppie child?
Piesman: The idea is to get the kid a toehold on the fast track early.
Hartley: Lessons begin soon. There's Tumbling for Tots and Suzuki violin lessons. By 8 months Yuppies have completed their swimming course.
And when they get to be teenagers?
Hartley: At 12 they can sign up for puberty consciousness-raising courses, while their parents take a coping-with-adolescent-aggravation seminar.
If Yuppies divorce, who gets what?
Hartley: Apartment remodeling compensation is for the Yuppie who must move out of a jointly held abode. He or she must be compensated for half the cost of renovation and also be financially redressed for enduring the psychic pain of remodeling.
Piesman: There's also joint possession custody. The gelati ice-cream maker goes to him one month and her the other. He hangs the Robert Rauschenberg in his living room for half the year while she places it in her foyer the other half.
Why are so many Yuppies in therapy?
Piesman: Yuppies are all striving for expensive homes, live-in help, a six-figure salary, the best tables and instant recognition at the five top restaurants in their city. So they need analysis four to five times a week to answer, "Why am I doing this?"
What will Yuppies be up to in their later years?
Piesman: They will be sipping decaffeinated cappuccino and eating salt-free fettuccine in their Breuer wheelchairs. We also expect a big lobby for large-print editions of the Wall Street Journal and a large demand for support running hose.
Hartley: Our case studies have found that once a Yuppie, always a Yuppie.