Songs from an Imperfect Life Outtake #2
My first draft for Songs from an Imperfect Life included a couple of memories that when all was said and done, did not carry my story along or particularly add to the timeline. However, they were “my” stories of things that had left an impression on me and therefore I have decided to share them with you now.
Last week I told you about our family vacation to Mexico. This week I’d like to talk about my “Peeping Tom” experiences beginning with the first in 1977. I had just purchased a condominium in a brand-new development in Bellevue. My unit was number one on the left and sat across from an open field. This is what I wrote:
“One night, I came home late and as I turned into my garage, I thought I saw a naked man darting behind a bush. I got out of my car, but could no longer see him so I went inside. I did not turn on my lights, which allowed me to watch, undetected, from my dining room window. My suspicions were confirmed as I saw a totally nude young man slipping between the condo units. I quietly opened my door and began to follow him from a distance. I watched as he looked into my neighbors’ windows and then ducked behind a tree or shrub. At one point, I came around the opposite side of a building that he was checking out and met him face to face. He immediately said: ‘It’s not what you think. I’m being treated for this condition.’ But standing there opposite this nude man, I said: ‘You need to be more careful.’ I then encouraged him to come back to my place for clothing.
We started walking towards my unit but he kept going so I followed him across the street into the empty field. He then turned and said: ‘I’m not queer, if that’s what you think.’ He picked up a bag with clothes and quickly started dressing. All of a sudden, as I was standing in the empty field, I did not feel quite as brave as I had earlier. I turned and started walking towards my home. A few weeks later, I saw him one more time, but decided not to approach. I’m not sure if he actually did get help, stopped or maybe was arrested. Regardless, I never saw him again.”
In Songs from an Imperfect Life I shared a story from 1983 about the night I sat outside the apartment of my ‘ex’ in hopes of catching him with another man. What I did not tell was that it took me three attempts until I actually had the opportunity to catch him in the act. Three times of waiting patiently in my car late into the night. It was on one of those nights that I witnessed a “Peeping Tom” scurrying around the complex looking into windows. I wrote:
“It was just after midnight as I sat in my car parked several units down from where my ‘ex’ had moved. I was hoping to catch him coming home from a bar with his latest conquest. However, before he arrived, I saw in the distance a figure peering into a window. He looked in and then quickly from side to side to make sure no one was watching him. What he did not realize was that I was in my car sitting quietly in the dark observing him. I watched as he went from lighted window to lighted window peeking in. Although all was quiet – this was a complex with many graduate students who were often up late studying or partying.
When I saw the figure move around to the other side of the building, I got out of my car and started to follow him. He was so preoccupied with looking in windows that he did not see me at first. However, when he did spot me, he turned away and started walking across the street. I don’t know why, but I followed. He approached a smaller apartment building where he stopped to peer in another lighted window. At that point I was probably no more than thirty feet from him when he turned and asked me what I wanted. I was speechless. He then began to unfasten his pants and asked: ‘Is this what you want?’ It turns out that he had perfected the art of misdirection because until then, I had not noticed the knife in his other hand.”
J. Ronald M. York, author of Kept in the Dark, is also an accomplished musician and founder of York & Friends Fine Art Gallery.
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