Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Quarreling Neighbors

After a day of walking around researching boutiques and observing the shoppers who were in them, Nat and I were wiped out. When I got home, I collapsed into a pile on the couch and that's where I stayed for the rest of the night. When I was ready to retire, I willed the fibers in my legs to help me get off the couch and checked the time. It was 1 in the morning. A perfect time to get in my pajamas, hop into bed and enjoy some peace and qui---

"Put yourself in my shoes!" a man's voice downstairs demanded.

A new couple had recently moved in downstairs. They were young, in their mid 20's. Alan told me the man worked at Big 5. I had seen the back of the woman's head once as she was locking her door before dashing out to the street, but I have never gotten a good look at the two.

With the new occupants below us, sometimes I worried we were too loud. I would turn the TV down until eventually we got used to watching all the characters on Lost mime their parts. Did she say 'Where is Jack or where is Mack?' we would sometimes ask, the one person relying on the other person's lip reading skills.

But the tactic to be considerate, quiet neighbors obviously backfired. From the way the two downstairs were going at each other that night, they obviously thought the walls were well-insulated, protecting them from the shame of knowing that everyone around them could hear their lover's quarrel.

"It's always all about you! What about me? You always do this!" the man cried out again.

I wanted so badly to settle gently into a deep sleep, but the choppy bursts of angry exclamations coming from below made it hard to drift off. A part of me considered going downstairs to tell them to take it down a notch. Or maybe I could just invite them upstairs so I wouldn't have to strain so hard to hear what they were arguing about. Was there another man? Did she say bad things about his mom? I couldn't tell, and instead of going downstairs to tell them to shut up, I found myself lying still in bed so that I could hear her side of it. It seemed unfair to judge them based off of his accusations alone, and so I laid there and held my breath so that I could hear better.

Finally, after half an hour or so, I heard her say, "I won't do it again. I promise I won't do it again." And then there was quiet. I could only assume from such heated battle that they were arguing about something really important. I thought about the statements each party had made, piecing together the story in my mind. I imagined the last slice of a delicious cheesecake sitting on a plate in their fridge. A slice of cheesecake delivered to the man by his dying mother in Wisconsin, the cheese state, a state with excellent cream cheese used to make only the finest cheesecakes. The man downstairs had been looking forward to sitting down and sticking his fork in the decadent white triangle all day. He had had a bad day at Big 5 where a customer had yelled at him for not accepting a 20% off coupon for Payless shoes, but he had consoled himself then with the thought of coming home and eating his last slice of creamy and smooth cheesecake. Only when he got home, with the greatest anticipation, he found not the heavenly slice he had been looking forward to but the empty plate in the sink with a few crumbs on it.

Now I have to go stomp around the apartment in my boots so that they know we're here.


Tonia said...

overheard conversations are the best: the greatest one I heard was where the male promised it wasn't all about the sex. The most dull: 'you just never listen' repeated over and over.
Stomp hard.

Roy said...

how funny would it be if the noisy couple downstairs had a blog, and they just blogged about this girl upstairs who wears boots indoors at night.

Breenuh said...

You have such a great imagination. The other day, I read that one way to be happier is to imagine the people pushing past you on the sidewalk or freeway have somewhere very, very important to be. Your characterization of the scenario is kind of like that, and it's a great skill to have.

On another note, Roy's comment above made me laugh aloud (in the library).

Erin P said...

Great imagination, I loved your ending. Have you ever seen the website "overheard in new york"? They post little snippets of conversations overheard on the subway or whatever. Fun to think what the rest of those conversations are like, too.

Rachael said...

My former apartment had a steady stream of bad neighbors that would move in and then be kicked out when they failed to pay their rent. By far, the worst was this group of people that moved into the apartment above ours. At first, their loud music with the bass vibrating my pillow every morning was plenty enough to sour our opinion of them. The sight of several extremely faded people sitting on the stairs outside our door that, for some reason, could not stop giggling nervously whenever we approached, soon made it very apparent that these new neighbors were, in fact, TWEAKERS. The loud stereo started becoming louder by the day, as did their late night vacuuming. No longer would the music be turned down by midnight, but instead it would stay on at all hours, keeping me awake night and day. The day I came home and, for once, could not detect that same odd smokey chemical scent that always hovered outside my door was one of my happiest moments. I slept very well that night.

I hope your neighbor situation improves. Try sending them a cheesecake with "Shut the hell up" written on top in raspberry sauce, and see if things don't improve. I know it would work on me; my mouth would be too full to say anything, let alone in my loud voice.

Rachael (formerly: MunkyBt)

2busy said...

So glad I don't share walls anymore (or ceilings and floors). It does make for some interesting entertainment, though.

Anonymous said...

The cheesecake story is plausible. I once snapped at my husband for eating the last piece which I was saving for later. He also got angry at me once because I had eaten the last portion of curry and rice... I guess we're even.

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