Nowhere City
Nowhere City Viewport
People / Places / Things
Adventures in Voyeurism
by L. Jeffries

live in an apartment building, and one of my neighbors is a professional model. I don't think you'd say she's a "super" model (although she would certainly look waif and powerless in the presence of kryptonite -- or rice, for that matter), but I'm no expert. This model's apartment is right across the courtyard from mine, and when I sit at my computer, I've got a panoramic view of her front window. If this were "that" kind of article, now's the part where I would say, "I never thought those letters in your magazine were true." But it's not. And there are two reasons for that:

One, she doesn't do nude midnight aerobics with her curtains open.

Two, she displays the apparent brain power of something you'd find prancing about happy and contented in its tiny little cage at the zoo. Frankly, I have trouble getting too excited about a woman who has less apparent brain power than something that might end its life on a sesame-seed bun.

My neighbor, who I will call Éclair because she's perfectly sweet but 90% air, moved to the U.S. from Brazil three years ago. She has regular modeling jobs, a variety of interests (e.g. diets, exercise, and other diets), and lots of gorgeous friends. I know this -- and much, much, too much more -- because she has no telephone in her apartment.

Like many of the young and successful in the Hollywood area, Éclair has cut her apartment free from its telephone land line and instead relies completely on her cell phone. The problem is that she can't get a decent signal in her apartment, so when she wants to talk, Éclair has to wander out into the courtyard. And because of where my apartment is, she (and her cellphone toting friends, when they come to visit) have a great many of their conversations directly in front of my window. I should also mention that because Éclair spends a lot of time on the phone at night (she may have lost the instructions for turning on her TV), she is often seen wandering about the moonlit courtyard, dinky cell phone to ear, wearing just her bathrobe and slippers. Before you get too excited, let me hasten to mention that it's a big, fluffy, terry-cloth bathrobe, not some woven-from-a-single-thread-of-silk- by-Victoria-herself thing. If that' what you're looking for, go read someone else's column.

By all rights, being able to overhear the nocturnal conversations of a young female model should be pretty interesting -- at least from a gossip standpoint, if not from a prurient one. But no. No even close. Éclair's side of a conversation generally sounds something like this: "Okay. Yeah. Oh, I know. That is so true. Right. And with wheat germ, too." Occasionally, I'll get something really exciting like, "Do you think he'll ask us to be in his movie? I'd like to be in a movie. Would you like to be in a movie? Do you think he'll ask us to be in his movie? I'd like that." I swear to you that is an actual quote. Listening to this kind of thing every night is like being trapped in a room full of first graders making up sentences from a very short list of vocabulary words. My voyeuristic life is so pathetic. And my opinion of poor Éclair's intelligence couldn't get much lower. Little did I know there was a little bit of Einstein snuggled up somewhere behind those perfectly trimmed bangs.

I was doing some Web site work, half listening to Éclair's current conversation, when I made a startling discovery: I had no idea what she was talking about. Not because the conversation was pointless, or because it was about nothing, but because it was over my head! I became instantly fascinated.

I'd love to quote a bit of what she was saying for you, but I can't. The subject matter was out of my experience, and much of the vocabulary sounded quite scientific and technical. She was talking about muscle groups, and nutritional requirements, and maximizing calorie expenditure while minimizing risk of sports injury. A month earlier, when Éclair had come to me to ask for help, she had expressed herself so poorly that I wasn't sure if she needed to borrow a towel or if her toilet was stopped up (as it turns out, a pipe had burst under her kitchen sink). I thought I had uncovered the woman's deep secret -- she had a degree in nutrition, or sports medicine, or something like that. Could it be that she had a medical background and was keeping it all under wraps, just to maintain her Californiamodel façade?

I kept listening. And listening. And eventually I came to the realization that what Éclair was talking about was an extra pound she had somehow managed to paste onto her posterior and what she was going to need to do to get rid of it. But this couldn't be the limit of her ability to speak in multiple syllables, could it? Please, I begged nobody in particular, please tell me that this poor woman isn't only able to have an intelligent conversation when it's about her ass and the poundage thereof?

"Right," she continued, as I listened in half-despairing anticipation for the answer to my question, "so if I avoid mixing water solubles with complex carbs and do an extra aerobic set twice a week, I should be fine. Then do you think he'd ask me to be in his movie? I'd like to be in a movie? Would you like to be in a movie?"

And that was it. The intelligent conversation was over, fast as a beautiful, soaring dove slamming into the side of a high-rise.

The next flash of intelligence came two weeks later when, apparently, Éclair developed a near-devastating reduction in upperarm tone. It was so sad I almost cried; so pathetic that it should be a box-office-smashing film. Those glimpses of wasted intellectual potential made me despair for all humanity. She was like Rain Man, only with barely visible, potentially career-destroying fat pads.

Éclair could play herself in the movie. She'd like to be in a movie. Wouldn't you?