My Secret Life as a Peeping Tom
My Secret Life as a Peeping Tom
If there's anything I miss about not living in an area with sidewalks, it's that as spring approaches and it's okay to be out wandering at night, I'm not able to peek into the windows of my neighbors. Instead, I have to drive all the way downtown to break the law.
Am I sick? I dunno. I'm writing it off, like I do most of my vices, as an "author" thing. For example, a local author spoke at our high school and she admitted to the same thrill, so I might be fully justified. For me, peeking into windows and seeing how people have decorated their dining rooms (so many reds!) and positioned their chairs tells me loads about their characters. Are there books? A baby grand? Do they read? Collect art? Not give a damn? There are houses where people sit down to dinner every night around candles and stemware. Then there are those where the TV is on 24/7.
A doctor with a booming business added an indoor pool and a plasma screen TV over his fireplace. The artist a few doors down has a living room entirely of cream and white (with all those kids - how does she manage?) But what I really love are the huuuge houses and, sorry to say, there aren't enough of them here to satisfy my craving.
I'm a sucker for luxury digs, which is why I faithfully read the New York Times real estate section. Just what constitutes a $32 million condominium in NYC? This does. I love it, though it's a bit cold, even with the fire behind the tub. The green-lit kitchen? Not gonna work. But it's represented by a real estate agent named Paddington Zwigard and if I had a million to toss on a deposit, I might consider it on that alone.
When we lived in Cleveland, our bike rides after dinner would take us around some of the more stately homes of Shaker Heights. But for real wealth, you had to go to Hunting Valley where Mike Tyson lived, briefly, thereby upping the percentage of minority residents to 1. No, that's not right. Don King spent some time in Hunting Valley, too. That might account for the white population being 99.05%.
Also living there long ago were the Van Sweringen brothers, unmarried land speculators who created Shaker Heights and who slept together in the same bedroom of their 54-room mansion all their lives. Yeah, that's normal. For that reason, and many others (like the median income of Hunting Valley is over $200,000) I used the area as inspiration for THE SECRET LIVES OF FORTUNATE WIVES. Yet, though it's the sixth wealthiest area in the country, a five-bedroom home like this one at the top with saltwater aquarium, two-story pool house, custom movie theater, children's play room (notice the TV) a master suite the size of my house and tennis courts, etc. is a steal at $8.9 million.
I ask you, is it time for a revolution or what?
When I was little, my mother would drag me to real estate open houses, just to see who put what where. She was the one who taught me to peek in windows and to read floorplans with a critical eye. But I never saw her so in her element as during a trip to Newport, Rhode Island, where she used to work as a newspaper reporter while WWII raged. Those were the "cottages" that flipped her switch, The Elms, The Breakers and Stanford White's famous Rosecliff.
What is this urge to study floor plans and peek into other houses? Why do I devour the real estate ads? Why do I DREAM about houses, constantly, especially houses with many bedrooms? Maybe it's because I've never lived in a big house. (Three bathrooms are enough, thank you.) Or perhaps I long to roam the long halls and sleep in a different bed every night of the week. Perhaps this is why Rebecca is one of my favortie books, to stumble upon an undiscovered wing, a grand library, a yellow bedroom, an evil maid, a terrifying secret.
Yup. That's my subconcious.