Monday, June 18, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on October 29th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 34 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 34

Good fences make good neighbors

This is especially true when nudity is involved


There is something in each of us that creates a desire to see the unseen, take a peek at that which is not meant to be seen. This is true with both nudity and car accidents. Not matter how horrible it is, you’ve just got to look.

This is why I was concerned about our back patio fence. It was an older fence and when we moved in it was covered with morning glories that had crept their way through the large spaces between fence slats and back and forth between our side of the fence and our neighbors’. They thickly covered the fence, but because they were dead—and combined with the messy, un-manicured raspberry bushes, crumbly tendrils of ivy, and piles of dead leaves on our newly purchased property—I wasn’t going to wait to see if those morning glories would ever bloom.

As soon as I could, I cleaned out the patio, trimmed back the raspberries, cut back all of the morning glories, and set out my lawn chairs to take advantage of the wind-blocked area that readily accepted the sun. But then I realized there was a reason the fence had been covered. I noticed then that you could easily see between the fence slats. I became concerned about laying out in a swimsuit within eyeshot of my neighbors. Whenever they came outside I would grab my towel and run indoors.

Then, one day as I played basketball with my boys, I overshot the hoop and the ball rolled to the fence. As my middle son retrieved it, he gasped and in an urgent whisper said, “They’re naked.”

“Then get away from there,” I said, then added, “Wait, are you sure?”

My son looked at me and rolled his eyes at the obviousness of my question.

I slyly tiptoed to the fence, quickly peeked, and then quickly looked away. “I think you’re right,” I said, but my son was already in the house announcing it to everyone.

I ran after him telling him to lower his voice, that what they do in their own backyard is their business, and that we need to leave them alone. My older son replied in a very authoritative tone, “Let me see about this,” and marched outside with my preschooler bounding behind him. I ran after them trying to quietly convince them to go back inside and to not look, but all three of them were suddenly tossing various soccer balls, basketballs, and footballs toward the fence so that they could have an excuse to retrieve them.

All three of them were trying to catch a glimpse through the slats until I caught up with them and shooed them away. But not before taking another look. Sure enough, they were all naked—mom, dad, and kids. I brought my boys inside. We couldn’t continue to play basketball on that side of the house lest it seem like we were trying to spy on them. The thing is, we really weren’t. The fence was so spaced out that you could see through it without really trying.

Questions abounded: Are they nudists? How would we face them as we got into our respective cars in the morning? Could I look them in the eye without blushing? Could I simply even look them in the eye?

We had never interacted with them much before so we didn’t know much about them—except how they looked naked. That night, the questions remained: What would I say over small talk at the mailbox or when I ran into them at the gym the next morning?

And most importantly, why was I even questioning how I would talk to them? I mean, there are other people in the world I’ve seen naked—like the girl in the gym changing room who likes to walk around naked and chitchat with strangers while she puts on her makeup—but I never had a hard time with a cordial hello in the weight room. 

Sure, it was their backyard and they could lounge in the buff or barbecue naked if they want to, but after we knew that that’s what they do, our side patio became a little less attractive. It wasn’t necessarily because of what they looked like, either, though that’s the one question friends would ask whenever we mentioned the incident: “Did they look good?”

I always give the same answer, “Does it matter? If you thought a person wouldn’t look good naked, would you pass on the chance to take a peek?”

That’s when most people stop laughing and realize that, yes, for whatever reason, they’d look, even if it were just a glance.

Our naked neighbors eventually moved, and when they did we needed to take a long look—at their backyard, that is. They were a bit mysterious to us because they didn’t talk to us and, of course, because of the nakedness, so curiosity remained. Slowly and nervously I looked over the fence, like it was all some big set up and there would be a big, naked party and instantly people would point fingers and say, “We caught you! You peeked!”

That didn’t happen; it was just a normal, now-empty backyard. No barbecue for naked grilling, no dance floor for naked grooving, just their clothesline—ironically enough—and an ‚Ä®unkempt lawn.

And now I can once again sunbathe without the risk of having an audience—at least until we get new neighbors. But being that it’s only natural to look, I’ll keep a towel nearby.


Contributor Shelly Cone can’t help but peek. Send her comments via the managing editor at

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