I’ve always considered myself to be a bit of an exhibitionist.
I mean, I would never go into the adult entertainment industry or join a colony, but if I was a celebrity I would be all over the Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball stuff. Nakedness has just never been a thing for me.
Now, don’t start with the whole “well I don’t like how I look” garbage. Ceasing to care about being naked has nothing to do with what you look like without Spanx on — it has to do with freedom, which is what we’re all about over here if you hadn’t noticed.
The necessary step is not pulling a Rumor Willis and exercising your right to bare tits all over Manhattan, the ingredient I’m looking for is the ability to stand in front of a mirror and say “I feel good” (not “I look good”) and continue on with your dish washing. Which is exactly what I was doing when I remembered that my curtains were open, it was 10PM and my apartment was bow-shaped.
“I told you to wear pants!” Steve messaged me, “We’re not the only creeps in the building!”
It’s become a favorite pastime of ours to shut off the lights and spy on the neighbors. Seriously — if you’re one of them, I’m sorry, but you provide way better entertainment than Kourtney & Khloe take the Hamptons. Sometimes we’ll make up conversations you’re having. Sometimes we’ll create entire life stories — which you honestly make it really easy to do when at 9pm every evening you turn on Pink Floyd laser-show lights in your 200 square foot living room and leave them on for the entire evening with the shades up.
My sole intent is to catch people doing it a la that Sex and the City episode where Samantha invites the girls over for popcorn and wine to spy on her neighbors who just can’t get enough of each other.
Yes, I’m weird. Maybe even illegal — I’m not sure of the repercussions of telling you all this — but what I am sure of is that Steve was right. We are not the only creeps in the building.
There I was, minding my own business, in the process of some seriously delicious and empowering naked me-time when out of the corner of my eye, I saw him.
Just standing there, glass in hand, looking at me.
I immediately followed the proper protocol for encountering a bear (as opposed to a peeping Tom) — I yelled for Steve, who wasn’t there. I then said “Oh, shoot,” — in other, more explicit words. I told myself he could smell fear, so I had to continue to be confident, & then I slowly and [hopefully] inconspicuously started to back away from the window.
I made the one fatal mistake of looking directly at him, which he responded to by jumping and turning off his light.
I finally made the call to just fake a fainting spell an slither to the floor, where I crawled into the bedroom (where the curtains were shut, because #privacymatters) and remained for the rest of the night.
At least I got to bed early.
I remember reading a book called “The Bad Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want” a million years ago. One of the things it stated as being a “seriously bad girl move” was to dance around wearing nothing with the curtains up. At the time, I didn’t have my own apartment so dancing around naked made for quite a few awkward family moments, but when I did finally move out I was way more concerned about landing an episode of Criminal Minds written about my untimely and nude murder than I was about being a bad girl.
Over time, however, after one becomes experienced in the ways of both apartment living and living alone, you kind of forget that your windows are two-way.
Which is actually why I was doing the dishes that way in the first place. Who likes pants?
When I woke up this morning, I had forgotten all about the late-night rendevouz I had just hours before with corner unit, floor 12 guy. I walked to the washroom (in clothes). I showered. I got out of the shower . . . only to realize that my towel was back in the bedroom. I booked it — a total of 20 feet if I’m being generous towards the size of my place — straight into my towel.
As I plodded my way back to the washroom I couldn’t help but look out my windows into the units across from me. Some of them had curtains drawn, but most of them were wide open. I saw a girl eating breakfast (I almost typed Cheerios but realized that was taking my creative liberty too far), I saw a man looking out over the ocean, and as I finally let my eyes drift towards corner unit, floor 12 guy I prepared myself to come face-to-face with him.
Instead, I saw him where I’ve seen him every moment I’ve peered over there since I moved in (often, obviously). Seated in front of his television, playing Call of Duty (not artistic liberty. I can see the little people on the screen).
He wasn’t sitting there staring across at me, waiting for my next blunder. He wasn’t searching the skies for the next naked person. He had just gone right on living.
Which is exactly what I should have done when I noticed him in the first place.
Living in close quarters with strangers does incredible things for your psyche. It shows you you’re normal. It shows you you’re not normal. It exercises this little muscle inside called trust that is defined as “that thing you do in silence that assures people in the elevator you aren’t going to bring up what you saw them doing last night.” It makes you feel excruciatingly alone — but also really on public display. It reminds you — often — that you are not special, and that this is a good thing.
Because you’re never going to be the first naked person in the window.
You aren’t going to be the last.
& you’re never going to be the only creep in your apartment building.
photo by Saga Sig