Window Dressing

Sitting here at my perch on _____St in the ‘Loin, curtains open, staring out the window at the artificial light drenched blackness of a late summer San Franciscan night, wondering about the motes of dust trapped in the glare of the street lamps, and the damp coolness of the sea breezes, worrying about the wildfires, the air quality, the fact we are all trapped in a diseased dystopian nightmare, and picking at a meal I cannot find the appetite to eat, bored and exhausted by the business of survival, the world seemed so dull and grey and hopeless. There is a building opposite, about four floors, nondescript, late 20th century tiled dullness. It could be anything from a hospital to a post office to somewhere insurance men gather to cluck over the future. It just happens to be apartments. The windows have matching Venetian blinds. On the top floor, the center apartment never closes its blinds. I figure the female occupant figures she is too high up to be seen. She is wrong.

Every night from my window, she is there, the light flooding her apartment, at her window. Sometimes she is in mismatched underwear, sometimes she is topless and smoking a cigarette. Sometimes she has a companion who stares out the window alongside her, or grabs her away from the outside world and turns out the lights. Last night, as I innocently stared out of my own window, fully dressed, not a toe or an ankle showing, she appeared at her window naked as a jaybird. I wonder if it is her way of getting kicks. Showing her voluptuous breasts and thighs, the curve of her body to the streets below. I wonder if she figures no one can see her. I looked away, back to my book. When my eyes flicked up again she was still there, standing. If I can see her, I figure she can see me. She turned away, suddenly satisfied, jumped onto her bed that is just in view, and turned out the lights. The naked window glowed black.

What happiness did she obtain from this act of defiance? What passing frisson of desirability or satisfaction? Did she retreat to her bed content? Is this the only act of rebellion she has in her life on the 4th floor of a nondescript building on ______ St? Anais Nin, writing her blue tracts for this magazine and that publication, her Delta of Venus meanderings through the dark side, the freakish, the downright pathological – incest and bestiality would have made some dangerous or strange conclusions. I am no Nin. I have no desire to wonder what my naked friend was doing under the cover of darkness. Or I might wonder and turn my head. Lust and love are forever tainted. Sex is a ruined city. I used to be so hedonistic, so free, so promiscuous. Now I look back in anger at the wasted love and lust, and time searching for someone to look into my undressed windows to see who I might be and to look and look after in return. Someone to kiss, someone to hold, someone to be held by. Someone to release that animalistic urge towards an ugly reality of little joy, and a huge risk.

I rolled a joint, and blew some smoke out the window. The streets were empty except for an eerie howling sound, that was not animal, yet should not come from any man. The emitter of the howling came around the corner of ____Ave. Naked from the waist up, pants around his upper thighs, dick waving in the wind, yowling and jerking in the throes of some angel dust horror show. “Oh buddy!” I found myself saying out loud. He didn’t have long to get his shit together and pull up his pants. Get outta dodge. Even by San Franciscan standards this was some erratic behavior. It was somewhere between him boyishly doing the helicopter twirling his limp little mouse around in the cold night air, and him moonwalking up ____St that the cops showed up. The Boy poked his head past the curtain and came to see what I was looking at. We were willing him on. Come on, come on, get it together! Get your head on straight. I looked at my laughing Boy, and shook my head. Impossible. He is going to jail. I could see the distaste and irritation on the cops face from all the way up here, and figured Buddy might end up with some awkward grazes. The young man got hold of his pants, pulled them up at least part way, and as if two separate pulls were upon his body – his torso being dragged backwards, and his legs trying to propel him forwards, up the hill, attempted to move away from danger. Even the most fucked up pcp driven tripper understands what the red and blue strobe lights mean. They mean pull yer pants up and quieten down. He made it out of my field of vision, the yowling toned down to little yips and gargles, the cop car trailing him. I hope they gave him the opportunity to get it together instead of the catch and release horror show. Getting arrested on psychedelics is no fun at all. No one wants to see to the heart of the detention and punishment industry, with unveiled eyes. No one wants to open the door to the cells that slam shut with more unmoveable force for some more than others and enter the twilight zone where people are captured and punishment is unfairly meted out by some animals who judge themselves better than others. OK, so Buddy cannot be allowed to howl and be naked on the street, but heck, he isn’t the first and won’t be the last. He needed a safe space and some compassion. If San Francisco can’t give them to the tripping and the disconcerted, then what hope is there?

I wonder if the naked young man, with the moonlight white wan body and the stardust in his eyes was the intended recipient of the woman in the window. If he saw her display and reacted in his tripping state to her nakedness with his peacock display of dancing and moonwalking and helicopter twirling, in response. Was there something in the wind and the rain which saw the city cast off it’s clothes and get freaky?

The restraint and imposed reality of modesty is an illusion created by society. We are all animals, some trained, some feral, some horny, some disturbed, some pathological, some romantically inclined, others lustfully restrained. We are all animals on the streets and the little boxes we live in, scratching around for comfort or a kick. For that orgasmic release of energy, or a way to insulate ourselves against the drain and damage of relating to others. The plague makes it easier to be alone and isolated: the stakes are higher. Life and death. Love and lust have always been life or death to me. Every time I climbed into a car, every time I went on a ‘date’, every man who laid a hand on me represented a clear and present danger to my health. Every affair with this married man, or that curious woman cracked my artistic life into fragments.

Civilization is just window dressing, and the emperors’ clothes have revealed their transparency. I would rather rip away the veil and see it for what it is: doomed.


  1. Time Traveler of Life

    Me too! I have a problem with people failing to do their jobs. I have stood toe to toe more time than I care to remember with Mortgage brokers and Title people and occasionally other Agents to get them to do their fucking job.

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