I have a friend. She moved last week, but I see her when I look out the window.
She is, in fact, only three short blocks away — happily situated on the tenth floor of one apartment building, while I’m content on the eleventh floor of another. And, as luck would have it, we face each other. Nothing stands in our way, we enjoy a clear, unobstructed sight line. It’s a perfect setup.
The nifty arrangement allows us to skip the traditional phone calls and visits. In their place, we use the clandestine messaging technique of 10-year olds: we flash our lights. Every night at 10:00 we position ourselves at our respective stations — she at a light switch, me on the balcony, flashlight in hand. The trial run wasn’t very promising; my co-conspirator fell asleep before the 10:00 pm rendezvous. That’s the big danger when you’re our age. Spontaneous naps.
Nevertheless, night two went off without a hitch. At the stroke of 10:00, lights flashed like crazy and kept flashing for long minutes. I felt exposed and conspicuous, standing outside, but sheepish gave way to impudent the instant I started laughing. It was a gas. I waved my flashlight like a shipwreck survivor, sketched wild, swooping arcs with the beam, flipped it on and off and on and off.
Mind you, all this transpires in the middle of downtown, where I’m surrounded by tall buildings and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of windows. Hotels, offices, churches, hospitals, restaurants, bars. Eventually and inevitably, someone somewhere is going to spot these shenanigans and mistake our antics for a distress call. 9-1-1 will be alerted and emergency personnel dispatched. In that case, criminal charges will almost certainly be filed for issuing false alarms or creating a public nuisance. They’ll think of something; city officials are notoriously humorless.
In the meantime, however, watch out! Mooning isn’t out of the question, installing a zip line is a possibility. Obscene gestures and profane signage are options, as well. Heck, maybe the flashing will catch on and the entire city will start strobing like a disco ball every night.
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