Privacy—can it be found in New York City? With more than 1.6 million people crowding the streets, transit, and buildings of Manhattan alone, this is hardly a place where residents find solace.
As a New Yorker, I can tell you that I find quiet and comfort in my Upper West Side apartment. I can draw the shades and close the windows, and in moments I have escaped to another place. Turning off the world outside is a necessity when living in the “city that never sleeps”. Yet, some choose to expose themselves to the world of New York, and I mean literally.
There are certain rules that seasoned New Yorkers just know. Not sure who created these or how they were learned, but they are givens. Perhaps these “laws to live by” may have begun in sitcoms based in Manhattan such as “Friends”, “Seinfeld”, “Will and Grace”, or the ever-popular “Sex and the City”.
As a law-abiding New Yorker, I am well aware of the one of the most stringent codes for multiple dwellings: Don’t walk around naked or partially naked in front of your windows; or partake in activities that involve being naked, or any form of indecent attire in front of your windows. Simple–right? One would think. Along with this—Don’t stare into other occupants’ windows for extended periods of time. Respect your neighbors’ privacy.
Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to not look. This happened recently. There was a woman putting her pants on in the apartment directly across the street with the lights on and uncovered windows. Not only was she stepping into her jeans, she neglected to wear a shirt. No tank top, or camisole, ….just a grandma-like pointy black bra. I looked and then quickly walked into another room. Not being able to watch any longer, I never did see her put on a shirt. Furthermore, this view could barely be avoided. When looking out to check the weather, or assess the umbrella situation, there she was parading in her bedroom like she was in the middle of nowhere rather than in a Manhattan apartment. Was a citizen’s arrest in order?
Surely, most anyone in a high-rise cooperative has experienced this, or perhaps been the perpetrator. There was a certain episode or maybe several on the hit sitcom “Friends” of a less than bashful neighbor. I also remember a similar story on SATC. It happens.
I will let this be a lesson. When I think no one is looking, or no one can see me, now I know better.
But on the positive side of things, if I had a chance meeting with that woman on the street, I would not recognize her from the half-bare-body strut in black skivvies. She could be most any middle-aged woman with dark hair. Nor would she remember my face which was more than 100 feet away through double-pane glass. Hence the pros of apartment living.
Privacy may not exist in Manhattan, but on an island of more than 1.6 million, semi-privacy and hidden identity can be found just about anywhere.