|James Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window|
«Blinds!» I said in a half-scream. With his hand around the hips, holding the towel around the waist, he looked around and acknowledged the light coming from the wide opened window on the study. He said his scientifically learned “Aaah.”, that sounds something between “aaah interesting” and a mildly enthusiastic “aaah eureka!”, there was some eyebrow raising, that graphically completed the sentence designed on his forehead. Then he acknowledged the other curtainless window on the bedroom, that completed the “light tunnel” in the corridor. In a unconscious safety measure he tucked the towel tighter… I giggled at his nonchalant walk towards the bedroom, as he closed the blinds.
Later, as we were preparing our tea mugs in my wonderfully sunlit kitchen - where the 3 meters large, 2 meters high windows, give a generous view of the small backyard with two palm trees and an array of windows from other people’s kitchens – the learned “Aaah.” returned, but a bit more emphatically. At this time, I knew he was going to share his view on his discovery, usually as plausible as laughable, and highly entertaining.
«You know, you should ask a percentage of the profit». I looked at him quizzically, encouraging him to go on with his theorising. «All these curtainless rooms, provide quite a view, I bet, to your aging neighbours. So, my guess is that property value has increased. You know, the better the view, the more expensive real estate is.». By now I was laughing hysterically. I confessed that when I first moved in, there were a couple of times I walked into the kitchen wrapped only in a towel. His eyebrows raised enthusiastically, as he realized he was on to something, «No-no… my bath towels are huge, so much so, that the word for them in Portuguese is bath sheets…». He was a bit disappointed but still wondered how I would manage to live in a curtains-free house, there were the blinds, of course, but still… «a lot of exposure».
I frowned and remembered all the good advice and words of wisdom I had got before moving in. Whenever I told people I was moving out from my parents into a tiny, comfortable flat in suburbia, people would often ask whether I was sharing the flat. As I would explain that I was moving out alone, then the words of wisdom would come. First the nostalgic sigh, then the looking at an invisible past and then the reassuring words «Good for you! You’re at the right age to move out alone, you’re still young and it’s good to leave the parent’s nest. And it's so nice to be on your own, you have your own privacy, nobody controlling your coming and going, more independence, you can walk around naked around the house, not a care in the world…».
Excuse me? Let’s rewind these words of advice “walking around the house naked, carefree…». Really? That’s the highlight of single living? I could not believe the number of people, young and old (especially the grandparents' generation), that would tell me of the marvels of living alone, in particular, walking around the house naked. As it seems, that is the no. 1 advantage of having a place of your own, it’s the naked rights. Living alone is a free pass to be naked in the privacy of one’s own home. Nine out of ten people would come up with the “naked argument”. That was not the advice I was expecting, but it sure was funny… everyone had the same nostalgic look and wishful sentiment in their words “not having to worry about walking naked…”. I wonder how often would they actually do it, and why they missed it so much.
Three years of mortgage later, my flat is still curtains-free, I really do not miss it all that much, except for the kitchen, where in lazy mornings, all that light can be a little too overwhelming. Curiously enough, the only room in the flat that is windowless is the bathroom. That probably explains why winter, spring, summer and fall I will be more or less clad, but always dressed.
And that’s the whole truth, the naked truth.