That Time You Went Outside With No Pants

by Matthew J.X. Malady

People are always saying things on the Internet all the time. But sometimes that’s not enough for us. We like details. So we have to ask.

Well, it finally happened. One of my neighbors witnessed my pantsless dash to pick up the Sunday NYT from my front sidewalk. Sorry, Martín.

— ann friedman (@annfriedman) August 25, 2013

Ann. So what happened here?

Like any other red-blooded literate American, I like to read The New York Times on Sunday. I prefer to do so while still in bed in my underwear. But first I must retrieve the paper from my front sidewalk. Understand that I live in a little 1920s bungalow, which faces a sort of courtyard and another row of little bungalows. (Like this.) It’s technically public space out there, so I should put on a robe, or pants, or something, but my neighbors are usually still asleep at this hour and I’ve never once run into them. Until last weekend.

Is Martín the type of person who would be appalled by such a thing, and have you and he spoken about what happened?

Martín is so chill. When I looked up from bending down to pick up the paper and saw him standing there, we just said hi and I went inside. He did not comment on the fact that I wasn’t wearing pants. What a guy.

Lesson learned (if any)?

Get to know your neighbors. The cluster of bungalows where I live is a microcosm of my L.A. neighborhood. Echo Park is at that gentrification tipping point where the neighborhood is about half Latino and half not. It’s generally safer than it was 10 years ago, now home to a few new farm-to-table restaurants, but not yet unaffordable for families. The four bungalows on my side of the courtyard are owned by a white landlord and all occupied by white people. The four bungalows across the way are owned by a Latino landlord and all occupied by Latino people. It is a point of personal pride that I am on a friendly, first-name basis with my neighbors on both sides.

Just one more thing.

A few months ago I was barbecuing in the courtyard with my Latino neighbors, many of whom have lived here for 30 years or more, and I asked if they think the neighborhood has changed for the better over the past decade. Overwhelmingly, unanimously, they said yes. As someone with a lot of gentrifier-guilt, I confess to feeling super relieved. I really hope that this neighborhood manages to maintain its delicate balance, and that people like Martín — who gets up at 5 a.m. every weekday to work in the kitchen of a staffing services company downtown — aren’t pushed out by rising rents. It’s good to have neighbors I can count on to be nonchalant about my pantslessness.

Matthew J.X. Malady is a writer and editor in New York. Previously: Tell Us More.