Monday, August 17, 2009

On Being the Noisy Neighbors


That’s what I think when I sit in the living room of our new apartment.

I mean - screaming, flag-waving, kilt-wearing, blue-faced Mel Gibson charging his horse down a hill - FREEDOM!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I love apartment living. I always have.

Far less space to clean. No more yard work. No more snow shoveling. No more home repairs.

I like both the social opportunities and delightful anonymity apartment living provides. I like knowing if Brett isn’t home, at least SOMEONE in the building is, and if some desperate robber/rapist (I say desperate because we don’t have any money, and I am about as far from a supermodel as one can get) breaks in, I can scream my lungs out and there’s a good chance someone will call 911 on my behalf.

I love hearing the bumps and thumps that come from living near other people. I love hearing a shower come on at 3:00 a.m. I like the thumping bass of our neighbor’s guitar. I like the sense of community. It makes me feel young, alive, and vital. In an apartment, I am urbane, engaged, and wired.

It also helps me not feel the least bit guilty when Sam screams his lungs off at 2:00 a.m., since we can barely hear him over the roar of hard rock emanating from the walls.

It’s funny how life comes full circle.

Back when we were first married and in an apartment, we lived above a couple of young guys who worked the night shift. They’d come home around 1:00 a.m. and turn on their game system full blast. Unfortunately for us, their game room was situated directly underneath our bedroom.

The incessant blare of gunfire, bombs, and witty dialogue present in Grand Theft Auto did not lull Brett to sleep. I, however, enjoyed the free massage thanks to the vibrations coming from the floor boards.

Over the course of a couple of weeks, Brett went downstairs several times and politely asked the “boys” to turn it down. They were polite right back with promises to turn it down. And, of course, they never did.

Brett (in the running to become the cranky old man who calls the cops on his neighbors) called the cops. But, in a strange twist, he was actually the one who got scolded.

I tried to talk him out of it. I did.

“It’s just not that big a deal,” I said. “They’re, like, 20 years old. Don’t you remember 20?” I said this from the perspective of actually BEING in my 20’s at the time.

He swore up and down that he had never been that obnoxious. I believed him. He’s actually a pretty polite guy (except in traffic. Oh, no. Not. In. Traffic.).

Now, you have to remember Brett grew up in the quaint, country town of Geneva. This was Geneva of 40-odd years ago, not the shopping and development metropolis it is today. I, on the other hand, grew up in crime-ridden, gritty Rockford, Illinois, where – while corruption may not be king; it is at least governor.

Don’t ask me when or how I knew this, but I KNEW that you ONLY call 911 in Rockford if someone is a.) dead, b.) dying, c.) bleeding profusely, or d.) actually on fire.

However, in Geneva, you call 911 if your cat is up a tree.

So, when Brett told me he was going to call the police and invoke the wrath of our downstairs neighbors, I ASSUMED he meant he was going to call the non-emergency number.


Instead, he called 911 where, when he explained the reason for his call, the dispatcher rightly reamed him for “wasting our valuable time.”

Brett was shaken, and I bit back the “told you so,” on my tongue.

When we moved to our house, Brett insisted a huge part of his happiness was due to leaving “those rude neighbors” behind.

During our first night in our new apartment, Sam got us up at 2:00 a.m. screaming his precious little lungs out. Brett’s eyes got as big as saucers as he frantically tried to shush our son.

I had to laugh, since Brett just kept saying an irritated, “Shhhh” louder and louder, as though that would have any effect on Sam. Meanwhile, I could see the thought coasting through his mind – “What will our neighbors think?”

We eventually got Sam calmed down and back to sleep. The next day Brett was freaking out about what the neighbors thought.

I told him I could give a rip because a.) we already know three people in the building have babies – they’ve been there, done that, b.) apartment living means making concessions to other people’s noise, and c.) what are we going to do? Move to a deserted island? Babies make noise, plain and simple. No matter where we live, Sam will have the volume cranked up to MAX occasionally.

Still, I could tell it really bothered Brett that we had become “those” neighbors.

Until last night. Blessed last night.

We arrived home late from moving some more house-to-apartment stuff. As we climbed the stairs, we reached our floor and were instantly surrounded by the pulsating rhythm of our neighbor’s stereo – a screaming lead vocalist accompanied by a raucous band of guitars, drums, and (I’m pretty sure) a cannon.

The noise continued well into the twilight and morning hours. Sam wasn’t the least affected by the noise, and we were both relieved our little boy would not be the annoyance we had feared.

As Brett expressed his gratefulness for our neighborly noisemakers, I made the observation that he might just owe an apology to those young kids from our early apartment years. He smiled, just a little ruefully. Oh, the lessons parenthood brings!

A few minutes later, he looked over at me. “You know, if they ever DO call the police on us, I hope they know not to call 911. If they do, they’ll really be in trouble!”

Oh, the lessons being a cranky old man brings.

P.S. - Have I mentioned how much I love my new apartment? Do you know how much I love it? I totally didn’t notice it doesn’t have a microwave! Oops. Don’t care. Still love it!


Heidi said...

I hated apartment life. I personally would rather have all the problems that come with an old house--we had apartment neighbors where the guy swore (f word swore) and tossed his girlfriend around (I did not feel safe) -- could have been the neighborhood in "slimy" Rockford.
We call 911 on our neighbors and have never had a problem with them coming. They have separated emergency from somewhat emergency and they then decided what is emergency or not. They would rather you call 911 than nothing at all.

Ann-Marie said...

That's nice! The operator was really harsh with Brett, and he took it really hard. You might be right about the neighborhood - but there are "bad" neighbors in every community, so it's cool you've had good luck with it! You can definitely see where I would be more of an apartment-dwelling city girl, can't you?! LOL!

Juliet said...

I think the apartment is just wonderful! I love it and I'm glad that you love it. You do, don't you?:)