“Never go to bed angry. Stay up and fight.”
– Phyllis Diller
I’m grouchy, I’m tired, and I’m going to overshare some more. Brace yourselves.
You can always tell who is new to our apartment building.
The astute learn early that the walls are paper thin and everyone can hear everything that is going on next door (or above, or below), and most moderate their behavior accordingly. The newlyweds learn quickly that the whole building may be treated to their sexcapades if they aren’t careful and move their bed away from the creakiest of the floorboards and try to somewhat muffle their, ah, enthusiasm. Families learn to keep their fighting relatively civil, lest the whole building hear their business. The Girls Next Door have learned that not everyone appreciates their impromptu dance parties – especially the couple beneath the with the new baby.
The obtuse take a while longer, to the amusement/annoyance of their neighbors. My Lord and Lady Stompington never learned, and their departure is regretted by no one. While my Lord and Lady Beepington’s peculiar conjugal habits became legendary through the complex.
But because the frequency of tenant turnover is so high (we’ve been there nearly three years and we’re ancient by lease standards), no one stays for long. The Beepingtons were replaced just a week ago by a newlywed couple who, I suspect, are going to take a while to learn the ropes.
Sunday night Margot was out of town visiting her fiance and I was still doing battle with the never ending cold, so I’d turned in blissfully early. Only to be woken up by the new neighbors going to bed. Angry.
It was 1:30am, and apparently the perfect time for a fight. And lucky me, I got to listen to it as it got more and more heated. They slammed closet doors and banged dresser drawers as they traded accusations. Not really knowing them, I assumed that reason would reassert itself, they would realize the time and that their altercation was probably at a decibel displeasing to most and leave it till morning. I was wrong.
Half an hour into it my inner monolog had been hijacked by the feuding couple and I found myself thinking things like, “Be fair, that’s not what he said at all!” and “Leave her mother out of it,” and “Now now, she has a valid point.” After about ten minutes of that, though, I’d crammed a pillow over my face and was sending hate-filled thoughts through the ceiling and contemplating the ups and downs of charging upstairs an banging on their door with demands that they shut up.
Believe it or not, I have a very well developed sense of propriety – kept in a functioning state mostly for the malicious glee of doing exactly the opposite of what it tells me to do. But unfortunately this is the time it chose to assert itself.
“C.,” it said forcibly, “as aggravating as this is, there is nothing in my playbook for this scenario. If they were flinging artichoke hearts at you across the table at a really good dinner party I might have something for you. But 2am shouting matches on the part of perfectly nice but socially unobservant neighbors is, surprisingly, a new one.”
I was going to have to wait it out.
At about 2:30am, the conversation turned weepy with many protestations of change and improvement in the two parties’ attitudes and behaviors. ” Bully for you,” I sighed, and hoped that such talk meant an end to hostilities.
After a couple of minutes of lovely silence, however the sounds of, ah, vigorous amorous activities began. “Sex isn’t going to solve your problems, kids,” I thought nastily and dragged my blankets over my head.
I hear you asking, “Why didn’t you just go sleep on the sofa, you complaining idiot?” Two reasons. First of all there was the principle of the thing: I was not going to be forced from my bed simply because they were using their for acrobatics. Second, and more importantly, another of the fun features of our building is that in addition to thin walls, all of the heating and cooling elements are connected. Through which sound carries. The acoustics of the living room being what they are, things were actually louder out there.
The show ran for an encore last night, at about the same hours. So now I’m horribly tired and more grouchy about J.-being-in-London-enforced-celibacy than usual. Never say I don’t tell you everything, kittens.