Riding the bus to school one day as a fourth grader, I and the other students on board happened to see a couple having sex in their bedroom, right in front of a large bay window without curtains. Gerald, from a family of Romanian immigrants, claimed he'd seen it all before in Bucharest, while Greg, who was the nephew of drag racer Ed "The Ace" McCulloch and whom others only liked for that reason, was too busy talking about his uncle's latest quarter mile time and missed the whole thing. Anyway, Mr. Defer, the driver, had us going at a pretty good clip so, at best, we saw only a flash of skin and hair. But everyday thereafter, when we passed that house, all talk stopped as we watched hopefully for another show - and wouldn't you know it, we never did get lucky.
Now, I realize it's not polite to look uninvited into other folks' houses, but damn is it ever hard to resist. From the stairwell of our building, I can see into at least four other apartments: one in which the kids play too many computer games, one in which the father always wears a tie, even on sundays, and two where steaming rice seems to be the most interesting thing that ever happens. Everytime I walk downstairs, I have to make a conscious effort to not glance into these other houses, which is most often a losing battle.
I shudder to think what people would say after looking through my windows, which, at close range, only the old couple with ugly furniture in the next building can do. In the morning, for example, I usually put water on for coffee before I get in the shower. After drying off, I hang up the towel and set the coffee to percolating while I get dressed. The way I figure it, if people haven't seen it before they won't know what it is, and if they have, they won't be surprised. But then I also think, why give them for free what they'll pay for?
That anyone might even want to look in on my life is, to me, unbelievable. By any measure, evaporation ought to make for better viewing than the minutae of my days. But that's voyeurismm for you: we watch not because the other person's life is more interesting - it's usually not - but rather to confirm that other people are trapped in the same ruts, playing the same video games too often, and not staying quite as digestively regular as they'd like.
After seeing the lives of my neighbors, however, I've concluded that my life is a damn site better than theirs: I don't have kids, I don't wear ties on Sunday and my furniture, while cheap, isn't too terribly ugly. Of course, I've never volunteered this information to my neighbors because - and I suppose this hardly bears mentioning - a good voyeur is better not seen and not heard.