People who live in New York often say they do not know (or even see) their neighbors, not to mention actually talking to the people who live on the other side of their walls. I am apparently not “people” because I have been friends with more than a handful of my neighbors over the years. I mean no offense to the rest of my neighbor/friends, but the highlight for me was the few years when Todd and I became friends* with two other apartments on our floor. When Todd, Lynne, Paul, Morgan, Lynanne, Patrick and I got together, we talked about the usual things friends talk about when they are together…but we had a few other things in common that most friends do not share. We had the other neighbors on our floor to talk about. There was the woman who refused, no matter how hard we tried, to say hello to any of us and then there were the two dogs who barked nonstop if we were home (and their owners were not). The neighbor who got most of the airtime was Hot Paul. We call him this because we needed to differentiate him from the other Paul on the floor and, well, he is hot by most standards (seriously, even the doorman would comment on his appearance). Hot Paul sightings were pretty rare – and when you did see him he was running off to catch a flight to Europe, driving in a fancy sports car through the neighborhood or in the gym pretending to work out but really reading The Economist, only making him that much more attractive.
I have one Hot Paul sighting that I wish I could take back. On a particularly nice night a few summers ago, I got ready for bed – washed my face, brushed my teeth and put on my nightgown which by my standards is small and immodest, but by normal people standards is something close to what your grandmother sleeps in. This nightgown is not the kind of thing I would feel entirely comfortable wearing in front of my friends, so you can imagine it is not the kind of thing I would want Hot Paul seeing me don. Well, that is just what happened. The genius who designed my apartment building made it so that my next door neighbor (in this case, Hot Paul) can see into my bedroom from his terrace without actually trying to look into my bedroom. So when I went to the window to open it just a crack, I was basically standing inches away from Hot Paul in my slinky (but not actually slinky) nightgown. Horrified, I gasped, ran from the window, shut off the light and cried myself to sleep** hoping I would never run into Hot Paul again.
I can’t remember how many more times I ran into Hot Paul, because one particular run-in erased the embarrassment of the window opening incident. On a Friday afternoon after work, I was coming up in the elevator looking straight ahead, thinking about nothing in particular. For the sake of helping you visualize what is about to happen next, please note the genius who designed the Peeping Tom terrace also made it so that the middle elevator opens directly opposite Hot Paul’s apartment. On this Friday, the elevator doors opened at the exact moment when Hot Paul’s girlfriend was standing at his door with her arm up to knock one more time. But the final knock was not needed because at the second the doors opened and Mrs Hot Paul was about to knock again, Hot Paul was opening the door wearing only his underwear trying for some romantic (?) moment with his lady friend. Only this moment was ruined because I was standing directly behind her and also directly in front of him. And he was wearing underwear the size of the bathing suit I imagine Hot Paul might wear on his trips to the beaches of Europe. This time Paul looked horrified. So who’ embarrassed now? To be honest, I still am.
*I know what you are thinking. I am one of those people who tosses around the term “friend” loosely. Not so – these are good enough friends that I am going to the wedding of one couple next month. So reserve your judgment for someone else.
**Kidding. I didn’t cry over that.