Janet Urquhart: That’s a little bit too neighborly
July 26, 2002
There are architects and builders in this town who should be shot.
On second thought, that’s letting them off too easily for shoddy work. They should have to come over to my apartment every morning and take a shower.
This daily ritual of basic hygiene is tantamount to torture at my place. If anyone has a legitimate excuse to start the day in a grouchy mood, it’s me.
Chances are, I’ve begun my day by standing under a stream of water that fluctuated between scaldingly hot and ice cold. And I don’t mean once or twice, I mean every minute or so – on a good day. On a bad day, it’s every 10 seconds or so.
Now you can’t tell me that we can pipe oil across Alaska, but can’t deliver water at a uniform temperature to me and a handful of other apartment dwellers at the same time.
I’ll bet a hundred people can get up and shower at the same time in one of this town’s nice hotels and none of them screams in agony/shock. And if they did, no one would hear their cries, which leads me to my second complaint about my place of residence – the layer of paint on my ceiling apparently constitutes the sound proofing installed between my apartment and the one above mine.
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When I first moved in last summer, my neighbors came home at bar time several nights a week and proceeded to rearrange the furniture. Fortunately, they either moved out or finally found feng shui.
Unfortunately, one of the young men living up there now took up the guitar. It’s an acoustic guitar, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hear every note of a midnight practice session through the coat of semigloss that separates our lives.
I must admit, however, his playing has thankfully improved with practice. Either that or the guitarist who didn’t actually know any chords moved out and a better one moved in. As you might have guessed, I don’t make any effort to get to know my neighbors.
Frankly, I know more than I want to about them already.
I know, for example, when one of them walks across a room, opens a closet door or talks on the telephone. I’ve even heard them take a . never mind.
Granted, I can’t fault the boys upstairs for the sound of their footsteps, but I don’t easily forgive and forget when wrestlemania gets under way at 3 a.m., or I’m awakened to lewd chanting in the wee hours of the morning.
I was half expecting my ceiling to cave in when one of them started jumping up and down and screaming out the window: “We want some p—y! We want some p—y!” Let’s just say, I don’t think he was talking about adopting a house cat from the pound.
(I’m way too old to be living in a freshman dorm.)
So anyway, you’d think the aforementioned incident was a low point in multifamily habitation, and it was, until I was sitting on my sofa reading one evening, when the relative calm was shattered by the unmistakable sound of an, um, certain, audible bodily function. That’s right, someone upstairs cut the cheese, broke wind, let one go. Flatulence. It was a fart.
I was understandably appalled. Disgusted. As I sat there fuming over my misfortune – life in a crappy building that facilitates way too much familiarity with the vile creatures upstairs – I had a sudden, most-alarming epiphany.
If I can hear them fart, what can they hear?
[Janet Urquhart is taking up the tuba. Her column appears on Fridays.]
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