Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shhhh, You’ll Wake the Neighbors

Old habits die hard. Ask any public nose picker.

I was the perfect apartment tenant. I was respectful of my neighbors, didn’t play loud music, didn’t throw loud parties, and in the throes of orgasm, always buried my face into the pillow … or an armpit.

I never wanted to be the guy hearing broom handles banging on his floor. Yet, I always ended up being the guy with the worst neighbors – no need to rehash that.

There are also those who move into an apartment for the first time and do not realize how much their neighbors can hear. For the first few months, they have intimate conversations using their loudest outdoor voices. I have heard it all! Do I really need to know that the Preparation H burns when you apply it? Or that your husband likes it when you dress up as a sheep?

I especially enjoy the ones who move into a luxury condo and are appalled at how much they hear from next door … or below … or above. A friend of mine once said, “For what I am paying, I shouldn’t hear my neighbor flushing his toilet.” To myself I said, You may call it a condo, but it is nothing but an apartment with a mortgage. Unless the walls are made of lead, you are going to hear your neighbors! This was another reason I never considered a condo.

Now, I live in a mobile home with my own four walls and no one on the other side, but I still find myself tiptoeing around and whispering. I never wear shoes inside. I quietly go about my business, and I still don’t own a stereo. I even sing quietly. And before you say ‘Thank God,’ Esmeralda likes my singing. Serena didn’t like it, but she liked my dancing. Esmeralda finds my dancing disturbing.  I guess the pole is a bit much for some dogs.

There are times when I turn on the TV and the sound will be very loud for no known reason, so I immediately turn it down and apologize to no one in particular. I was watching porn – I mean an educational documentary – on my computer, and all of a sudden one of the characters started screaming, and I immediately muted it. No one needs to hear that … not even me.

Some mornings, Esmeralda doesn’t want to get out of bed, and I end up standing by the front door, saying quietly, “Esmeralda, come here. We’re going for a walk. Don’t make me yell. I don’t want to wake the neighbors.” She just looks at me as if I am an idiot. Come to think of it, she looks at me a lot like that. Then I whisper loudly for her to get up. We have all done the loud whisper, which isn’t quite a whisper. You sound like a three-pack-a-day smoker trying to get a waiter’s attention.

Why do I keep doing the apartment dweller thing?

One of my friends, upon hearing about my descent into trailer park trashdom, remarked that you can hear your neighbors fart when living in a trailer. I actually believed him. For the first week I lived in my new home, I made sure all my farts were silent, and when a loud one slipped out, I cringed, knowing my next door neighbor heard it. I was so embarrassed. What if he could smell it, too?

I guess after spending more than half my life with people on the other side of my walls, it will be a while before I break old habits.

I have grown accustomed to the quiet. I rather enjoy not having my neighbors’ marital problems becoming mine. Life is so drama-free. I do admit that sleeping the first night was odd since there was nothing but silence. I kept waking up anticipating someone’s head hitting a wall after hearing, “Go ahead, hit me … I dare you … hit me ….” <THUD!>

If you who are wondering about the neighbor fart thing, my home is fully insulated, so I have not heard a fart from next door. My friend Frank has knocked on the door, and I have yelled “Come in” and he never hears me. Good luck hearing any bodily functions. And if you do hear a neighbor fart, call the Guinness Book of World Records, or look up because someone is headed for low-earth orbit.

Esmeralda doesn’t even hear my car pull up when I come home from work, and I drive a thirty-year-old AMC!

However, there is one habit I needed to break very quickly. My apartment in Mount Pleasant was ground level (I’ll never admit it was a basement) with one hidden window, hence calling it The Patty Hearst Memorial. In Rockville, I lived on the fifth floor with no buildings facing me. I could walk around naked in both, and no one could see me. My blinds were open all the time to let in natural light and be free.

So much for natural light. It was a few days before I realized I was putting on a show every time I walked from one end of my home to the other, giving anyone looking in something very natural to see or at my age, something very unnatural one should not be forced to see.

As Joan Rivers said, “A peeping Tom reached in and closed my blinds.”

That habit is now broken but not before a couple of near misses.

I cannot wait to be comfortable enough to sing my favorite American standards as loudly as I want. Esmeralda will be thrilled when that day comes. She especially likes “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart.”

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1 comment:

  1. The whole farting in your trailer and your neighbor hearing you thing had me laughing out loud. I come from a big family so when I graduated from high school and went off to college at 17 I was happy that although the dorms were supposed to be silent so people could study, they were still abnormally loud and so it felt like I was still at home. When I left that college and moved and got an off campus apartment, I was still loud, because that was how I grew up. So I was the neighbor that had parties and played their music loud and had sex, where I screamed out to God when it was good. And when I invited my gays over, I even encouraged their flamboyant, loud revelry. So after being complained about enough, I became like you overly cautious. Even after I got my first home. It caused problems when I enlisted and I was SUPPOSED to be loud and instead I almost whispered my responses and rounds.

    After a while, you'll get used to it, you just have to repeat yourself louder, every time you realize that you were quiet for no reason, it will help break you of the habit.

    Great post!