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A full confession by a man who, though he never hurt another human being, is still driven by a strange illegal compulsion...

"There's No Thrill Like Peeping"

by Anonymous
as told to Don MacClure


South Sea Stories

Vol. 2, No. 6,  July, 1962

     Point at me, sneer at me, yank your kids from the streets when I walk by. Call me anything you like. I don't care. I just don't care. I'm a Peeping Tom and I'll admit it to anybody--a confirmed, dyed-in-the-wool Peeping Tom.
     And I live in a peeper's paradise. I have lived in this gargantuan cliff dwelling for three years. During that time I have learned a lot about my fellow men and women. And at the same time I have developed certain habits which allow me to observe the goings and comings of my neighbors with the least inconvenience to myself.
     For instance, I can dress and undress without once glancing away from the window. I don't need to see a mirror to shave. I lather my face, insert a new blade in my razor, and scrape away, all the time watching the activity across the courtyard. There is a girl whose bedroom is in the setback five floors down, sixth window from the left. I know exactly what time she slips from her bed, hastens to the bathroom, and returns to dress.
     Not once have I seen her from head to foot in three years. Yet her vanity is so situated that most of her garbing process take place directly before the window. The important business happens just beyond view, then she primps for twenty minutes where all can see her in pink bra and pants. Near-sighted male guests of mine have frequently spotted her and hollered to me that something was up. But something was not up.
     Still, my survey covers that window each morning. Who knows--she may slip up and fix her hair before she climbs into that concealing what-you-may-call-it. After all, patience is the peeper's stock-in-trade.
     I have familiarized myself with the retiring schedules and rising hours, the night life and infidelities of scores of people, young and old. There are nearly seven hundred windows within my range, the furthest row being less than two hundred feet away. No, I do not use binoculars. I have even thought of obtaining some spectacles to make me near-sighted. Things might look rosier. The disrober appears less glamorous when viewed from the front row.
     When Mr. B's mother-in-law is parked on his living-room couch, there is no romance in Mr. B's bedroom. But when Mr. B whistles in the bathtub, it does not surprise me. I have been watching for him to whistle...I have watched love blossom and burst into flower. And I have seen a home-wrecker caught wrecking a home. I could enhance my income liberally by testifying in divorce courts. But I prefer to keep my amateur standing.
     You could have had odds from me of seven to two that the cute little brunette couple in three down, four across, East, were honeymooners. When they first arrived, shades had not been supplied by the management, and of course their curtains were not yet installed. Gentlemen, you have never seen such--well, harmony. I don't know why they didn't turn out the lights, but it helped me prepare one of my most learned treatises: "What the June Bride Will Bare."
     By and by young hubby must have earned a raise, or else his maiden aunt kicked in with a bunch of overstuffed furniture. Eventually they installed what I call Peepers' Bane--Venetian blinds. There ought to be a law. However, from the correct angle, even Venetian blinds are vulnerable. So, one night I saw the little brunette in the arms of a blond salesman who acted as though he had to sell a lot of goods in the shortest possible time. He did, too.
     Naturally, I could not hear what hubby said when he suddenly out in an appearance. What the other man said would be more to the point, for it saved his life. He grabbed his wardrobe, talking all the time, and managed to leave while the meat cleaver was still in the air.
     Two weeks later the painters were in there, and finally a new tenant. Some dim-witted character who sits up all night pounding on a typewriter.

     When you live in an establishment consisting of more than a thousand apartments, it is likely that some of your friends know some of your neighbors. A peeper must be careful about this. An old friend of mine brought an attractive couple in for cocktails on Sunday afternoon. He introduced them as Joe and Ginny Something-or-other, adding that they were neighbors of mine.
     "How nice," I said, but it was not so nice.
     "What a fine view you have," Joe observed a bit later, looking from the vantage point of my twelfth-floor living room.
     "A vivid cross-section of life," I answered brightly, for we had consumed a few beers. "You see the windows over there with the yellow flower pots in them? Well, a very cute number lives there. She sleeps raw, and she dawdles around in that condition every morning while pappy shaves."
     "Go on," said someone. I didn't notice who it was.
     "A while ago," I pressed merrily on, "the little woman must have gone to the country for a visit. But pappy didn't seem to mind. A pinch-hitter came in frequently--a redhead. She must have been a radiation engineer, she spent so much time studying the overhead fixtures. Boy--"
     Ginny nudged me on the elbow. I looked at her and then past her, where I saw a frantic expression on the face of the man who had brought her and Joe. Something was happening--something like the San Francisco earthquake.
     She said, "Did you say something about yellow flower pots?" Her voice was a little strained. Joe opened his mouth but no words came forth. I felt the urgency of the prayer in his eyes.
     "Flower pots?" I said. Swiftly I searched the vast wall across the way, feeling the heat creep up my neck and into my ample ears. At last I found something on which to hang a desperate hope. "No, I didn't say anything about flower pots. I said shower curtain. The yellow shower curtain--"
     Ginny's voice had a gentle tone, like a dentist's drill: "Does she sleep raw--in the bathtub?"
     My collar was tightening relentlessly. Joe's eyes went to an old cutlass hanging on the wall. Oh, Lord, guide this wagging tongue, I prayed. "No--look," I managed. "I didn't finish. I was going to say...that big window near the one with the sheer yellow curtain. The one with the bubble deb--that is double bed--"
     "Yeah," said Joe quickly. "That's what you said all right. Double bed!"
     Ginny didn't say any more. I think she wanted to vaporize Joe on the spot, but she remembered her company manners. I have never seen them since--at any distance. The shades behind the yellow flower pots are never drawn.

     One summer I stepped up on the roof for a breath of air. At least, I was not wholly conscious of an ulterior motive. As if by magic, one of the resident cops appeared. "You know there ain't nobody allowed up here," he said.
     "Oh? Really? I hadn't realized that," I lied.
     He saw the tall Tom Collins in my hand and said, "But we don't like to be too tough."
     That was the beginning of a worthwhile association. I gave him the Tom, in return for which he took me on a tour that would put a West German strip exhibition to shame. Every now and then he consulted his watch and escorted me to a new vista. "It's about time for the so-and-so's to come in," he would say. And sure enough, lights would snap on, and someone else would unwittingly appease out doting eyes. Half the fun was Clancy's quaint and original method of tagging the attractions.
     "Over there we have the Sweet and Simple Sisters," Clancy said, pointing out two retired females. "They take off just so much, then they put them nighties over their heads before they take off the rest. It ain't considerate...And now look--them over there, I call 'em the Tantalizers. They leave you think you will see something, and you almost do. But then they pull the shades down. Oh, well, what you don't see is sometimes more fun than what you do see, if you know what I mean.
     "You dig the guy down there with the alfalfa on his chest? If it was Thursday you'd know why I call him Marathon Mulligan. Now follow me across to the north unit..."
    Next on the program came the Three Merry Widows, as Clancy had christened them. Three show gals who came home about two a.m. In a business-like fashion they peeled off, took turns washing their scanties and pressing them, before sitting around completely au naturel sipping nightcaps. A lovely, homey scene. I do not know if their conversation was as nice as their topography.
     In October hundreds of people move away, some of whom I hate to lose. But new ones move in, and there is always the surprise element. Clancy checks over the field, comes in for a drink, and then takes me to the observation deck to see the fall openings. Fashions are not merely spinach to this critic.
     I had always wondered if the guy across the way had better pickings in my building. With Clancy for an ally the guesswork ceased. I was delighted to learn what a happy couple lives directly beneath me. I must confess, however, to a twinge of conscience when I ride in the elevator with them. They appear so circumspect. To look at that demure, sweet little lady you simply couldn't imagine her capacity for companionship.

     It's been some time since I peeped with old Clancy. You see, I'm married now. I live in the same building, and my eye still roves from window to window, though somewhat surreptitiously. Just the other morning I was donning my tie absentmindedly, watching something cute in three down, six across, west, when my good wife said, "What are you looking at, dear?"
     There were icicles on the ledge, white patterns on some of the window panes. "I was admiring the hoar frost across the way," I said innocently.
     My wife looked by me in time to see the blonde number hook her brassiere. She cst me a withering glance and said sweetly, "I don't see any frost."
     Once a peeper, always a peeper. That's what I say. Maybe I'm sick--but I can't fight it.
     I always establish the impression that my apartment is a vacant loft. Sort of like a duck blind. I never give my victims cause for alarm. Once you have startled them by allowing them to catch you goggling at them, they are a lost source of amusement. Don't be discouraged when the lights in the near room go out; there is always a chance that they may go on again in a further room, and silhouettes can sometimes be entrancing.
     The summer season is the best, of course. They juts can't get out of those mean old girdles quickly enough. Even better than retiring hour, sometimes, is what we old-timers call Peeper's Hour. About six to seven, when a gal must hurry to dress for that supper date. They hardly ever bother about shades.
     Some wives are very tolerant about permitting their husbands the simple pleasures of peeping. But the peeper must be consistent. He mustn't be like one bird I know. He and his mate were spending a quiet evening at home when he suddenly spied something tasty. He doused the light (good tip) and his wife, laughing, stepped to the window with him. They saw a charming bit of femininity preparing for bed.
     Then her husband hove into sight--a handsome specimen who made our male observer look like Mr. Milquetoast.
     The female peeper drew in a sharp breath. "Oh, Edgar!" she exclaimed. "Look at the shoulders on that man!"
     Edgar couldn't take it. He hauled the shade down, turned the light on, and said, "You go watch TV. There's something unwholesome about your gaping at a naked man!"
     Can you beat it?

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