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What should we do about our naked neighbour?

The question

A young female neighbour recently installed a new bathroom window that seems to lack sufficient opaqueness. Our kitchen window looks directly into it, and it seems the window happens to be in the tub/shower. So every time she soaps up, voilà. We find ourselves having to close our blinds and avert our eyes most evenings.

Now this may seem too good to be true for some, but we find it uncomfortable, as we have to be neighbourly. I'm also embarrassed for her: If it were me, I'd be mortified.

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I've tried flashing kitchen lights to see if she gets the message, but no change. Should we leave a note in her mailbox politely suggesting she replace her window or get a covering, or should we just suck it up?

The answer

This question tickled my funny bone because it was signed by both husband and wife, but was clearly written by the wife.

And I felt I could picture hubby's faux "indignation" in the kitchen (pounding on the table: "You're right, honey, we should do something!"). I even began to wonder if writing to me could be part of an elaborate stalling scheme on his part.

I could imagine the conversation:

Wife (peering out window): "Sheesh, there she goes again. Naked as a jaybird. Do you think she knows we can see her? That's an odd thought, isn't it, darling?"

Husband: "Hmm, yes, interesting, that's – uh, sorry, what was the question again?"

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Wife: "Boy, she really likes to lather herself up, doesn't she?"

Husband: "Yes, she's [swallowing]obviously a real cleanliness, uh, buff. Nut. Buff or nut, one of the two, I'm not really sure which. Maybe both."

Wife: "Hon, you're babbling. Look, she dropped the soap again! What a butterfingers!"

Husband: [silent]

Wife: "Well, how am I supposed to have a normal neighbourly conversation with her now? I'll keep picturing her naked! Whew, she sure is shapely, though. Wish I had a figure like that! What do you think, hon?"

Husband (choosing words very, very carefully): "You … too … look good naked, darling."

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Wife: "Not about that, silly! Should I talk to her or not? Maybe leave her a note? I mean, if it were me I'd be so mortified. I'd want to know my neighbours could see me naked!"

Suddenly a light bulb goes off for hubby: "I have an idea: Why don't you write in to that advice guy you're always reading? Eddie something? Maybe he'll know what to do."

Him secretly rubbing his mitts together, thinking: "I'm a genius. That'll buy me weeks, if not months. These advice columnists probably take forever to get back to people."

If there's any truth to any of that, I hereby apologize to you, sir, for the quick turnaround time on this question. (It dropped into the Damage Control inbox last Friday.) Look at it this way: At least you had a good run for a while, there. Thanksgiving's coming up. Give thanks for that.

Now, I confess there's a couple of things I don't understand about this question.

One: If you can see naked shower girl, why can't she see you? I suppose the glass on her shower is just sort of translucent?

Two: If you really don't want to see her, and you have blinds on your window, why don't you just leave them closed?

I'll get back to that in a sec. Maybe I'm missing something. But you may be missing something here, too, madam.

I mean, she'd have to be pretty dim not to know her shower faces your kitchen.

Maybe she's ignoring the flashing lights. Maybe she wants to give you a show. Maybe she's advertising, hoping one night you and your husband will ring her doorbell and …

And maybe your friendly neighbourhood advice columnist shouldn't go down that road of speculation, or I might wind up needing a shower myself. A really long, cold one.

But no, in your shoes, I wouldn't approach her, or leave a note. Talk about mortifying, for all parties concerned. Also a little presumptuous. Possibly even a tad unseemly. And it could lead to all kinds of uncomfortable questions, like: "How long have you and your husband been watching me shower?" And: "Why didn't you tell me sooner?"

Are you prepared to have that conversation with her? (Or – sorry! immature! – the one where she answers you by saying: "Well, do you and your husband like what you see?")

Listen, it's fun to contemplate – we should all have such dilemmas – but in the end it's pretty straightforward. I can sum up my advice in four words: "Keep your blinds drawn."

That should solve the problem. That is, presuming you – both you and your husband – really and truly want it solved.

David Eddie is the author of Damage Control , the book, now in paperback.

I've made a huge mistake

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