When Neighbors See You Naked

This has happened to me more than once – more than 10 times, probably. Yes, the neighbors have seen me naked. This isn’t hard to do since the neighbors across the 5 meter-wide side street have windows facing my living room and one bedroom. They can’t see into my “sleeping chambers”, thank goodness, as it’s on the OTHER side of the house, so I do have ONE totally private room in the house, along with the kitchen, where no one can see me from any angle.

This is a common (?) occurrence in cities where the streets are narrow and the multi-level building have no where to turn but to face their neighbor. People in New York City probably know what I’m talking about but most others in the USA don’t since many of them live in houses with big yards. Even many people in apartments, as I used to have in Columbus, Ohio, may face a large (green) space and no one could see you without binoculars.

But here in Madrid it’s common. I see and greet my neighbors daily, open-window to open-window. We talk about the weather, the heat, or discuss some streetside disturbance which happens down below. We even see each other out in the neighborhood doing our shopping and merely exchange greetings in passing but I know they’re thinking, “I’ve seen him naked!“.

They have a window and I have an enclosed terraza so oftentimes I pass through the living room and see the neighbor lady leaning on the windowsill and looking skyward. I do the same thing from time to time, just to feel like I’m outdoors a little. Although my terraza window has an all-covering curtain, I most often leave it pushed open to allow light and air to pass through to the house.

So, humans as we are and me as I am – especially when it’s hot – I don’t usually wear a lot of clothing around the house at any time of the day or night. And on some rare occasions, I don’t wear anything – like when I take a shower, when I change out of sweaty gym clothes (ON the terraza), and, well, when I just don’t feel like wearing anything.

The neighbors’ window is directly about 5-10º higher than mine so they can see down and into my house while I can only see up through theirs, only seeing the ceiling lamp and their heads from the neck up if they’re in the middle of their living room. That being the case, they can actually see through my living room and bathroom to the far wall – and can see my knees if I happen to be sitting on the toilet. I know. That’s a nice thought, eh? And no, I don’t like to shut the bathroom door in my own house if I’m alone. In these situations, if I happen to see the neighbor lady hanging out her window I’ll lean over and push the door shut. This hasn’t happened to me many times – but it has happened!

MANY times, when I’ve just come home from the gym, I’ve peeled off my sweaty clothes on the terraza to hang dry before putting them in the clothes hamper, and look up to see the darting eyes of the 60-something year old neighbor lady. Funny, I never see her husband or 30-something son ever hanging out the window. Well, sometimes I do but it’s rare. In these cases I WILL pull the terraza curtain across to shield me, but if I see their window closed I won’t bother and just let the clothes fall where they may. It HAS happened that WHILE I’m taking off said sweaty clothes and my eyes blinded, I hear the familiar noise of the neighbor’s window blind rolling up and then, inevitably, the window opening. THAT’s when I jump aside, barely out of view.

In summers, as stated above, I’ll wear nearly nothing while in the house, usually only boxer shorts. So when I’m watching TV from the couch I feel comfortable because they can’t see me from their living room window – BUT CAN FROM THEIR BEDROOM WINDOW! When I hear that window blind rolling up, well, I know then that they’re in for a show – so I cross my legs or grab a cushion. Living in big, old, European cities (and some villages) like Madrid forces us to redefine the word “intimacy” – or maybe we just have a different perspective of the word from birth.

Sometimes, when the situation arises, when I’m with Spanish women and, well, they may be changing clothes or just out of the shower, and it seems the neighbors may see them I warn, “Hey! Be careful! The neighbors will see you!!” And their answer is always, “So let them look. Why should I care?” Sure. That’s the answer I should’ve expected but don’t instinctively consider. This, coming from a nation of topless sunbathers and cleaning ladies in the men’s locker room. What was *I* thinking?

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