As I was packing up, getting ready to leave the office this evening, I looked out the window by my desk. In the apartments across the courtyard, in full view, was a man standing on his balcony smoking a cigarette, wearing a business shirt and… his briefs. There were no trousers in sight.
I was both amused and slightly perplexed. Does he not realise his balcony is visible from an office building where hundreds of people work? Or does he simply not care? As I stood at the window contemplating this question, the open door of an upper floor apartment suddenly revealed a woman removing all of her clothes down to her underwear.
My confusion and curiosity increased. What exactly were these people thinking???
I have to be honest, I’ve always had a bit of trouble remembering to close the curtains or blinds. I grew up on an acreage with no neighbours in sight. Closed curtains were not only unnecessary but completely undesirable. Who wants to shut the sun out??? Then, when I first moved to the city, I was in an apartment that didn’t have any direct neighbours. So I spent a good 25 years of my life completely oblivious to the rules of curtain politics.
And even after years of city living, I’m still not 100% sure what constitutes correct curtain procedure. Is it your right to leave the curtains open, potentially inflicting intimate views of your personal life (and body) on your neighbours? Or is it your duty to think of your neighbours’ possible sensibilities and close the curtains to avoid subjecting them to something they may not want to see.
And does it make a difference who your neighbours are? If it’s a family with children who lives opposite? Or an office building where formal business meetings are conducted? In these situations the residents of the building could be very upset by the flagrant flaunting of curtain etiquette. Should you take this into consideration when making the decision to close or not to close? Or are you the only person who counts in this decision?
Then there is the opposite side of the equation… if it’s your neighbour who leaves their curtains open… does that give you every right to look? Those of who are of a certain vintage will remember back to the Friends day, when the whole group of six would race over to the window to observe the Ugly Naked Guy’s antics…
If he was knowingly putting his wares on displays, did that give everyone else the right to look in and comment on his nakedness? Or should the unfortunate neighbours living near an exhibitionist keep their eyes to themselves to whatever extent possible?
There is obviously no right or wrong answer to any of these questions. Different people will always see the situation differently… what will offend one will amuse another. For now I’m only seeing the funny side of some post-work entertainment at the hands of my neighbours… and making a mental note to pay more attention to my curtain closing behaviours in order to avoid potential embarrassment!