Love Thy Neighbor

There are certain realities one has to accept when living in an apartment.  You’re probably going to be charged way too much for way too little living space.  You don’t really own anything, but you don’t have to pay to have anything fixed.  You’re probably going to learn to hate stairs.  And you’re most likely going to have an absolute lunatic living on at least one side of you.

Well, Hannah and I have been particularly blessed, because we seem to have lunatics all around us.

First, there are the Destructo-Brats.  I’m not even certain these kids have parents, or if they were even actually born.  I suspect they may have simply emerged fully formed from the swimming pool one day, since that’s where they seem to always congregate.  Not to swim, mind you, but to throw as many things into it as possible.  And to make as much noise as possible while doing so.  They’ll ride their bikes and skateboards around the pool like Indians circling a Connestoga, and whoosh!  There goes a chair.  Then goes the life ring and the shepherd’s crook, ironically taking out of the picture any means of rescue should they fall in.  Which would be an event far beyond my wildest dreams.  They usually disappear around dusk, presumably to work on breaking anything back home that’s still in one piece.

For a while, we had the Apartment of Eviction next door to us.  In our first couple of years in this place, we must have run through four or five different tenants.  It got to the point where we wouldn’t even bother saying hello to them, since they’d be gone in a few months anyway.  I don’t know for sure that all of them were evicted, but it was always a case of one day there, next day empty apartment.  I want to be charitable and say the Witness Protection Program may have been involved, but I think it was more likely a case of the Not Paying Rent Program.

Then there’s the Dog of Woe.  I’m not sure if it simply missed its people when they went out for the day or if it was locked inside the bathroom, but, to this dog, it was going through the worst thing it could possibly go through and had no qualms about letting anyone within earshot know it.  And the truly maddening thing is that this wasn’t just one dog, but a series of dogs.  We’d finally get some piece and quiet from one when another would come in, every bit as miserable as the last one.  It’s like we’re living next to some kind of dog Purgatory, where they do a little time being left alone with a vacuum running before moving on to whatever Heaven is for a dog.  Which is most likely chewing on a broken vacuum.

Now these annoyances either didn’t affect us too much or tended to die out once night fell.  I can put up with almost any kind of racket during the day; I’m awake, I’m doing stuff, so noise just fades into the background.  So let your kids pillage the public areas and let your dog inform the entire building that it misses you.  Fine.  Just have them be done by the time I’m ready to go to bed.

But lately, two nocturnal menaces have arrived on the scene.  First, there’s those we fondly call the Barbarians.  Imagine living beneath a family of overweight people who also keep a heard of elephants in their apartment.  Now imagine they’re all using pogo sticks.  That’s the only explanation I can think of for the pounding coming from up there.  I fully expect to see a foot hanging down through the ceiling any day now.  And the thing is, it doesn’t sound like someone walking from one part of the apartment to another; it sounds like someone churning butter.  Only without the churn.  Or the butter.

Then there’s Club Neighbor.  If this was Dante, they’d be the Ninth Circle of Hell, only with poorer taste in music.  And how do I know their taste in music, you might ask?  BECAUSE IT COMES THROUGH OUR GODDAMN WALL ALL GODDAMN NIGHT, that’s how.  Apparently whatever device they use to play their music has really complicated instructions for turning down the volume and the bass, because they sure as hell aren’t using them.  I’d pound on the wall to shut them up, but they’d probably think it was some new house beat and just start dancing to it.  Or singing.  Oh God, the singing.  You haven’t lived until you’ve heard a dozen drunk people badly croaking out “We Are the Champions” at 3:00 in the morning.  I almost wanted the Dog of Woe back.  We left them a really nice note on their door asking them to keep it down at night, but either they can’t read or they took it to mean that if they played the music even louder during the day, they’d technically be keeping it down by playing it somewhat lower at night.  Honestly, I can’t understand why the surrounding apartments haven’t stormed the place with torches and pitchforks yet.

And what’s really scary is I’m almost getting used to it.  One night I fell asleep with a low bass line pumping through the wall, and woke up when it stopped.  Lord help me, they’re training me.

The only apartment that’s never given us any trouble is the one below us.  Of course, they could be sitting at their computer right now writing a blog entry about the maniac upstairs who can’t help yelling and cursing and video games and football games.

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