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Who Is Your “Ugly Naked Guy”?

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If you haven’t watched Friends, this won’t make any sense.

One of the quirks of city life is that you can probably see into some of your neighbor’s homes. On Friends, a man nicknamed “Ugly Naked Guy” lives in the building across from Monica and Rachel. He comes into the conversation from time to time. We have our very own version of Ugly Naked Guy.

There is an apartment with large floor-to-ceiling windows directly across from my home. One night, after some wine with my next-door neighbor, we got to talking about the couple who lived in that apartment. What do they do for a living? We can see right into the room that serves as his office, and he is always working. It was late on a Saturday night, but there he was, working at his desk. We made up a back story and name for this man that we saw all the time but never met.

My neighbor and I decided that his name was Marcus. We were initially unsure about his relationship situation, but when it became clear that he lived with a girlfriend or wife, we started to refer to her as Mrs. Marcus. Once, we saw them dancing in the kitchen together. My neighbor texted me to tell me. It was the most interesting thing that they ever did. (Perhaps this all seems really odd, but their curtains were always open, and they were right there!).

We can see into lots of apartments. Sometimes it provides entertainment when we are drinking wine together on the roof. Once, when I was very clearly having a party on my rooftop, the woman who lived above the Marcuses put on quite a show by walking around naked. We named her Naked Lisa. She moved out the next week, which is probably why she didn’t seem to care that everyone could see her.

One day last month, I noticed that the Marcuses’ apartment was empty. I texted my neighbor. “Where did they go?” she asked. We will probably never know.

Fellow city-dwellers, do you have neighbors that you see clearly from your home? We aren’t trying to people-watch, but sometimes it is unavoidable. These nearby strangers become a part of our lives.

Sometimes I meet people who live in the Marcuses’ old building. “Oh, you paint!” some say because they can see me in my studio at night. Others comment on our Halloween decorations. Sometimes they laugh when they tell me they have seen Gwen running laps around the couch pushing dolls in a pram. It’s all part of living in a city, and if the curtains are open, I guess it is all fair game?

Today, the Marcuses’ old apartment is filled with moving boxes, a sure sign that someone new is moving in. My neighbor already texted me, and we are meeting next week to come up with nicknames for the new tenants.

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