Rental diaries, vol. 22

Rear Window experiences

Mary Gray
May 21, 2019 - 17:54

My mother calls something a “Rear Window experience” when it fails to live up to great expectations (“I’m excited to take you to this restaurant. Sure hope it’s not a Rear Window experience”). She’s never gotten over the time she force-fed my younger sister and me the Hitchcock classic—after much, much buildup—and our teenaged selves failed to be dazzled by James Stewart’s and Grace Kelly’s tense, two-hour verbal tennis match. We were whiny and eye-roll-y and eager for something to happen already.


Several years later at university, I took a Hitchcock course from a teacher who was not my mother, and Rear Window—go figure—suddenly morphed into the most brilliant movie I’d ever seen. (Sorry Mama, you’re always right, et cetera). The movie was the crux of the syllabus and I grew obsessed with its witty screenplay, glamorous costuming and subtle critiques of condo-facilitated voyeurism.



I think of the film often in my ground floor Florence apartment, which was rented to me “partially furnished”—the sweet spot for foreign-born people with 4+4 contracts. (It means you can forego things like Byzantine Jesus prints in the boudoir, but don’t have to buy your own refrigerator.) A hobbit-sized coffee table was included with my partially furnished flat; fun little extras like a bed and curtains to cover the street-facing window were not.


Due to a lethal combination of aesthetic indecision and what Buzzfeed’s Anne Helen Petersen termed “errand paralysis”, I’ve still not bothered to buy and hang window treatments. Any view inside my place is obstructed by sunlight (or shutters, come nightfall). In moments of passing paranoia, though, I imagine a boredom-ridden, binocular-toting, wheelchair-bound Giacomo Stewart watching across the way, waiting to implicate me in a murder. Sadly, if I do have a Tuscan peeping Tommaso, I’ve been a pretty boring study of late: sorting laundry, petting my dog or, in the wildest of worst-case scenarios, falling asleep before closing shutters and clicking off lights. Watching me would be a “Rear Window experience”, basically. From the front.





Read all the Rental Diaries here.

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