The living rooms of my neighbors are like beauty parlors, like
night-club powder rooms, like international airport first-class
lounges. The bathrooms of my neigh bors are like love nests-
Dufy prints, black Kleenex, furry towels, toilets so highly
bred they fill and fall without a sigh (why is there no bidet
in so-clean America?). The kitchens of my neighbors are like
cars: what gleaming dials, what toothy enamels, engines that
click and purr, idling the hours away. The basements of my
neighbors are like kitchens; you could eat off the floor.
Look at the furnace, spotless as a breakfront, standing alone,
prize piece, the god of the household.
But I'm no different. I arrange my books with a view to their
appearance. Some highbrow titles are prominently displayed.
The desk in my study is carefully littered; after some thought
I hang a diploma on the wall only to take it down again.
I sit at the window where I can be seen. What do my neighbors
think of me - I hope they think of me. I fix the light to hit
the books. I lean some rows one way, some rows another.
A man's house is his stage. others walk on to play their bit
parts. Now and again a soliloquy, a birth, an adultery.
The bars of my neighbors are various, ranging from none at all
to the nearly professional, leather stools, automatic coolers,
a naked painting, a spittoon for show.
The businessman, the air-force captain, the professor with
tenure - it's a neighborhood with a sky.
- Karl Shapiro