I Can't Help It, I'm Nosy

Do you ever find yourself, driving at night, slowing the car and peering casually towards the windows of homes with their curtains open and lights on inside, throwing a spotlight on their private wares and activities? If you are me you are really not casual about this at all. You bodily turn in your car seat (as long as you are not driving, of course) and lean your head forward. As the house passes by your torso twists to make sure you've greedily peered into as much of the detail of these strangers' homes. I love looking inside other people's homes. There's something exciting about doing this surreptitiously. Robert Frost's poem, Good Hours captures the intrigue well.

Sure, when I go to a house party I always accept the invitation for a "tour" to see the place, but this sanctioned and chaperoned peering isn't nearly as fun. I want to see how other people live, what do they do when they don't think they're being watched? And there's a secret delight in being a distant fly on the wall, your eyes being somewhere where you are not supposed to be. (This might explain why one of my favorite children's books was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the story of a little girl and her brother who sneak into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and stay there secretly for a week. If I remember correctly, she even gets to sleep in Marie Antoinette's bed!)

And if further warning signs were needed to suggest that I may someday find myself imprisoned for trespassing or being a peeking Tom, I have also sometimes harbored the secret dream of going into my friends' and acquaintances' closets and taking the best of their wardrobes and jewelry for myself. Like a shopping spree, in my friends' closets. (I fear after this confession, none of you readers will ever allow me to be your houseguest again.)

To scratch this itch, I found the Take One/Leave One Project, a collection of written memories and stories gathered by a Northwestern student. Participants can read a personal story from a stranger, and then leave a little vignette of their own. Browsing the website has the same secret delight of finding an old shoebox full of letters, and reading them each one by one. Some of the entries are just typed out, but I like the handwritten ones better. You can tell more about how the writer feels based on their handwriting. Are they serious and worried, which makes their lettering tight and small? Or are they still thinking through what exactly they want to say, leaving crossed out words in their pen's path?
But if your attention span can't hold for these paragraphs of thought, there's also always PostSecret. But admittedly, there are some secrets you feel creepy or gross about after reading.

2 comments:

Jean Therapy said...

Hahah, I have to admit I love to poke thru other people's medicine cabinets and peer into their shower stalls when I'm "using" the restroom.

Actually, it's not unusual for my closet to get raided by my friends and things pilfered. It use to kill me when my friend Nicole would come over. She was 6ft and a little curvier that me and always tried to wiggle her way into my clothing. It made for some pretty funny scenes.

Andra Sue said...

There are a couple streets here in Dallas in really nice neighborhoods where, for some inexplicable reason, people don't seem to like window coverings. Actually, I DO love driving down those streets at night and peering in through the windows. Just curiosity I guess. Probably also why I spend too much free time snooping around on ebby.com (local realtor) and realtor.com looking at listings with multiple photos. :)

Oh, and I stock my bathroom cabinets with the thought that people who come over will probably be looking through them. Hee hee!

 

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