A recent visit from a friend forced me to admit that NYC has its share of amenities and is rather pretty in spring. Sometimes it takes a perky, child-like pal to remind me that there’s much to be said for the parks and libraries by day and live music to go with your street food by night. Plus Winnie the Pooh lives here, in the children’s section of the 42nd Street research library. The guardian of the well-worn stuffed bear and his friends is probably one of the friendliest librarians in the universe, but no you cannot hug a one them. Not unless your job title is Mayor or President.
Anyway the spring migration has already begun. I see moving trucks unloading in front of mostly new luxury buildings every day. Some with sweaty, bright-eyed DIYers hauling their own boxes of books looking around with that sighing “Here at last” expression. Part of me wants to welcome them, a very small part. The other part wouldn’t mind giving them their very first crazy-person story by belly flopping on their plastic-wrapped mattresses all “I want you to paint me like one of your French girls, Jack.”
I do neither. Not even a wink with pantomimed shot gun. Or is it a hand gun you’re supposed to pantomime? I prefer to slingshot, but even my pantomimed aim is bad. This is clearly a missed opportunity.
What I’m trying to say is there should be a welcome wagon in every city, but those of us born with a sneer where the giggle is supposed to be should not be on it. Maybe we could give it a good push though. Sometimes this push would direct newbies to the best places in the city like Governor’s Island, the Bowery Ballroom or Punjabi Deli. And sometimes this push could direct them to other apartments to move into. Specifically, away from the building across the street from me.
Unfortunately, amenities don’t include a number you can call to make the building across the street move. Ideally the whole building rolls down a block, but I’d be happy if my new high-end neighbors would get themselves some curtains. They’re freaking me out.
I thought of a tactic that may encourage them to if not relocate at least hang some drapes, but I’m not sure if it’ll work. So far my only plan involves me and company not drawing my curtains and just walking around naked day and night. If the neighbors don’t want to see us in all our glory, they can put up curtains or tape newspaper to the glass like I did in my classy days. The reason this may not work is that naked people can easily become a fun quirk to an apartment, and I don’t want to be Naked Lady, as in ‘Oh, Naked Lady is watering her plants. HAHAHA.’
Having lived in 15 apartments in 13 years, I have been on the receiving end of quirky naked neighbors a handful of times. But it never once occurred to me till now that I could have been what drove them to the barest of states, me and my evolution of “curtains” from nothing to newspaper to sheets to sheers to double layered ultra privacy with not a shred of tackiness.
My first naked neighbor presented himself when I was in college. It was my first share with a stranger roomie strapped for cash so she rented the back bedroom-slash-closet. The building was a brand new 20-floor construction that replaced a 2-floor shop and, much like the one across the street from me now, it was the reason neighbors received shadow where afternoon sunlight once shined.
We, strange roomie and I, first noticed a flash darting back and forth behind his window across the way. It was close to midnight and I had not yet gotten around to taping, stapling or in some way fastening my sheet over the window because someone didn’t feel like buying a hammer and nails or god forbid a curtain rod. The flasher finally perched himself on a high stool with a strategically positioned guitar. We watched. She giggled and I sneered as he strummed to the window. With too much distance between to make out his facial expression, he was just a naked figure swaying in the night probably singing his own kind of welcome song to the shiny new building full of curtain-less windows.
In lieu of a make-them-go-away hotline, I’m considering taking up guitar and investing in a stool. Maybe carry on this special New York tradition. Even Winnie the Pooh wore a shirt, I double checked to be sure, but he didn’t have neighbors. The idea of doing this makes me way too happy. The most important question here is: Is it indecent exposure if you’re in your own home?