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.