The mystery of “Mister Window”

by deborah fenker

Mister Window is up late. Again. Actually, I do not know this. Frankly, I don’t even know if “Mister Window” is a mister, or if anyone lives there at all. So let me back up a bit: there is a window which I can see by looking out from my own bedroom window, out to the Chelsea building that looms behind mine. It is a large, not particularly distinct apartment complex, neither old nor new. But it’s been around long enough so that all its original windows have long been updated to newer, presumably more energy-efficient ones. Newer, that is, than the one that catches my eye, that last remaining vestige of the originals, the one that I can see from my room.

This window is a classic wooden frame, with multiple rectangular panes in a black painted grid. I imagine it is atrocious to open and close, making an awful screech, which may be why I have never seen that happen, except for perhaps a few-inches crack during the hottest of New York summer nights. There is no air conditioner in this window, the only one without; I am not even sure that the ancient frame could support one. It stands out, though, not just for being the final holdout of modernization, but for its categorically nocturnal hours of operation it showcases, so to speak. It is more difficult to tell, during the day, whether or not the lights are one. But I can say at least observationally, unfailingly, if I awaken late, late at night, or arise in the preposterously wee hours of the morning, Mister Window’s lights are on.

I have never seen a face, not a silhouette, not even shadows of movement. I once tried leaving a message with the doorman of the building, who was nice enough to try and help me determine which tenant it might be, and I can only hope that he passed it on. But whether he did, whether Mister Window got the note, or if he just elected not to respond, I will never know. The doorman did seem to know to whom I was referring after a bit of forensics. Specifying the floor and counting the number of windows over from the far right and ultimately snapping a picture from the rooftop of my own building to show him, we homed in on a suspect.

This makes me think Mister Window pre-dates the current doorman, since no one was readily aware of the one remaining apartment with the antiquated, original window treatment. He certainly predates me, as I’ve observed the nighttime glow emanating from the window ever since I moved in. One day, a day to which I’m sure I am not looking forward, the window will most likely be upgraded to match all of its brethren. I suppose there are two occasions upon which this might occur. Either Mister Window joins the 21st century and allows renovation, or Mister Window will have turned out the lights, forever.