At a time when it's harder and harder to just be left alone, that's what more and more of us want.

Don't call me at home. Don't clog my in-box with your putrid computer spam. Don't fish my credit card application from my recycling, steal my identity, open an account in my name and then leave me to pick up the pieces.

Just leave me alone!

If only there was a place called Privacy World.

As a matter of fact, there is. I did a double take the first time I saw the signs -- "Welcome to Privacy World" -- on an apartment complex on Georgia Avenue near Glenmont.

Was it a slogan? Was it a name? There seemed something a little incongruous about so publicly announcing privacy: You want privacy? We got your privacy right here! Step right up for some privacy!

Were there paper shredders and bug-detecting equipment in every apartment? Black-painted windows? P.O. boxes under assumed names? Not quite, said property manager Gregory Eisenstadt.

When the complex of garden apartments opened in the mid-'60s, it was called Glenmont Park. When word came in the late '80s that a Metro station was going to open on the other side of Georgia Avenue, the name was changed to Glenmont Metrocentre.

But the metamorphosis didn't stop there. "My boss at that time was ahead of his time," said Gregory. "He knew what would happen when Metro came." More cars, more people. Less privacy. Strangers traipsing about.

So before the station opened in 1998, up went a black iron fence all around the property. The name was changed, too: Privacy World at Glenmont Metrocentre.

"People value security and privacy," said Gregory. A new fence -- and a new name -- make good neighbors.

A Dingo Ate My Sculpture

I had apartments on the mind, so after solving the mystery of Privacy World, it was time to tackle the mystery of Lofts 590.

Lofts 590 is a new loft-style apartment building in Crystal City. I was flipping through one of those free newspapers on the Metro when I came across a special advertising section devoted to apartments. On the front page was Lofts 590.

The story said the apartments boasted such trendy features as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and glazed concrete floors.

Also: "The circular lobby is reminiscent of a boutique hotel, complete with a semicircular brown leather couch and an eye-catching sculpture designed by actress Meryl Streep's husband."

Emphasis added, as they say.

A sculpture designed by actress Meryl Streep's husband? Even if it wasn't eye-catching, this I had to see. So I high-tailed it over there.

There is only one sculpture in the circular lobby, a sort of vertical arrangement of two dozen or so flat, verdigris-colored rings of varying sizes, from saucer to toilet seat. They're welded together at different angles. It looks a bit like a pile of falling plates frozen in midair, or one of those brain-teaser puzzles that you have to untangle.

There was no plaque or wall text. Was this by actress Meryl Streep's husband?

The receptionist didn't know. "I'm a temp," she said.

I asked in the leasing office. "I don't know," said the lady in there. "I can ask my manager."

Yes, said Jesse Jennell, assistant community manager at the Charles E. Smith-managed property. That is the sculpture by actress Meryl Streep's husband.

And his name would be?

He said he'd have get back to me on that.

I paused to reflect on what it must be like to be married to a celebrity. Depends on the celebrity, I suppose. But it must be the teensiest bit annoying to be an artist in your own right and be referred to as "actress Meryl Streep's husband." (I must ask My Lovely Wife her opinion on this.)

I looked more closely at the base of the sculpture and saw some sort of signature. Don something.

Back in my office I Googled "actress Meryl Streep's husband" and was able to discover that the artist whose sculpture adorns the lobby of Lofts 590 in Crystal City is Don Gummer.

I wonder when the next movie starring sculptor Don Gummer's wife is coming out.

My Lovely Wife's children's father's e-mail:

"People value . . . privacy," says Privacy World's Gregory Eisenstadt.