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Clothes Don't Make the Neighbor
Heroes Arise Cover.JPG

My grandmother opened the door of her two-room, Castro Street apartment.  We hugged each other in the entryway and exchanged the usual greetings.  Her jersey dress felt smooth against my arms.  I stepped inside her fragrant kitchen.  A concerned expression swept across her lined face.  She pointed a thin finger toward one of her windows where the blind was drawn.

"Be careful if you look out the back window," Gran said.  Her voice warbled.  "They're out there again."

"They" referred to the gay couple who lived next door.  The two young men enjoyed sun bathing in the nude in their backyard.  Hey, this was San Francisco--my home town--in the 1970's.  No calls to the police to report lewd behavior.  The surrounding neighborhood either peeked at the spectacle or didn't.

Several years later, my grandmother fell down her steep front stairs and broke her rib.   She was nearly ninety and recovery took time.  The sun-bathing duo, clothes on, offered her food and assistance shopping.

"If you need anything," one of the sun-bathers said to Gran, "please call me."

"Clothes make the man," Mark Twain once claimed.  "Naked people have little or no influence on society."  This may be true much of the time.  However, clothes don't make the neighbors good ones.  Kind hearts do.

Laurel Anne Hill

Author of Heroes Arise, http://www.laurelannehill.com