Sunday, April 22, 2012

"We've become a race of Peeping Toms. What people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change."*

        I know I’ve stressed on numerous occasions how much I love living alone. I can watch whatever I want, wear whatever I want, and there’s no one to answer to if I leave a mess in the sink, or on the counter, or on the couch, or on the floor. That sounds bad—I’m really not THAT messy—but truly the freedom is comforting and truly different than any I’ve ever known.
        I’m not a “naked person” but if I wanted to go into the kitchen and make breakfast in the buff, I could. But though I’m not a stickler for hygiene, that seems pretty unhygienic, not to mention cold, and my windows are at least cracked almost all of the time.
        That said, the other day I went into the kitchen in just the t-shirt and underpants I’d slept in, and poured myself a glass of water.
        Mid-pour, it occurred to me that the man smoking a cigarette on his back stairs might be able to see into my apartment. It was the middle of the day, so it’s hard to say how much of my kitchen was visible, but I immediately crouched behind the refrigerator door. Sure, I wasn’t naked or anything, but still: no one gets a free show from this gal.
        That got me to thinking about the movie Rear Window.
        For those of you who don’t know (a precious few, I’m sure: all of my readers are similar in their incredible taste and sophistication), Rear Window is a supremely awesome Alfred Hitchcock film about a professional photojournalist (Jimmy Stewart) who’s relegated to a wheelchair due to a broken leg sustained on the job. Because he’s bored and possesses several superb camera lenses--and because he lives in a unit that faces the courtyard of his large apartment complex—he spends his days spying on his neighbors. All of the spying is moderately amusing until he witnesses what he is convinced is a murder.
Rear Window, 1954.
        The rest you can figure out when you watch the movie.
        What I started wondering is what, if anything, would Smoking Man think of me in terms of Rear Window? The back of his building faces the back of mine and my kitchen window looks at his back stairs.
        Does he think I’m like Miss Lonely Hearts, the woman who entertains imaginary dates in her single apartment and then breaks down in heart-wrenching tears when she considers how she’s going to die alone and be eaten by rats?
Miss Lonely Hearts has an imaginary date for dinner.
        Maybe he thinks I’m like Miss Torso, the ballerina who has all kinds of men making passes but is clearly waiting for Mr. Right. I don’t imagine he thinks that seeing as how most of my male guests are my male friends—-all of who either have girlfriends or (in most cases) have boyfriends—-or exterminators/Robert T.L.W./installing blinds.
Miss Torso dances in her underpants. Don't we all?
        I’d like to think that Mr. Cigarette thinks that I might have murdered someone, if he sees me taking out the garbage late at night, but I’m pretty sure he’d need more evidence of foul play than the fact that I’m a night owl who likes to wait until two weeks have gone by to dispose of waste.
        There’s the pianist in Rear Window who’s constantly composing at his grand piano (once with Hitchcock in attendance, in one of his cameos). Sometimes he gets caught up and frustrated by his inability to achieve what he wants. That could be me. Maybe he sees me typing and thinks I’m writing my magnum opus and I’m constantly frustrated by not finding the mot juste! Ha ha, Smoker-man! I’m just writing this blog, dumb neighbor. 
The composer thinks best in his underpants. Don't we all?
        If I’m being perfectly honest, my biggest fear (at least within this particular realm) is that he doesn’t really think anything of my daily activities. He’s bored to death by my singularly mundane existence and watches not with pity or disdain but with complete indifference.
        “Well, there goes that chick making breakfast. There she goes washing dishes. There she goes folding laundry—wait! What’s on that suitcase? Is that blood? Where is she going with that down the back stairs? Holy crap! She’s killed someone!”
        That’s how he’ll narrate my life once I show him a thing or two.
        But if, on the off chance I decide against making it look like I’ve killed someone, I might bust out a fake party a la Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. That’ll shut him up thinking I’m boring.
*Thelma Ritter as Stella in Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954).

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