I absolutely love my little Brooklyn neighborhood. It’s full of restaurants and brownstones and trees and places to buy delicious baked goods. However, it is is also full of crazy people. And since I live in an apartment building, many of them share walls with me.
Here, for your reading pleasure, is an introduction to my neighbors. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Jennifer is probably in her late thirties or early forties. I’m pretty sure she has a job, yet she always seems to be home, clomping around in her heels and throwing a ball for her dog. (Let me tell you how much I love that awesome BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE skitterskitterskitterskitter sound at all hours of the day.) Despite these things, I have never met a person who is more sensitive to noise than Jennifer. She frequently leaves passive aggressive notes under my door letting me know that my air conditioner is making a weird sound or asking me not to talk on the phone in my bedroom or close my drawers too loudly. Once I returned from a three-week trip to Europe to find a note complaining about noise. Lately, she has taken up a campaign to get me to pay for half of a $2000 sound-proofing project between our apartments that will involve drilling lots of holes in my ceiling. Jennifer’s finest moment was the time she asked her next door neighbor to please stop pressing her microwave buttons so loudly.
Charlie is around 70. A few years ago, he became obsessed with the idea that my radiator was leaking into his apartment and causing his ceiling to drip. He kept asking if he could come upstairs and look at the problem. Since I was a bit hesitant to have some random strange man in my bedroom, I tried my best to avoid him. He was unbelievably persistent and continued to request access to my apartment, even during the summer, when the radiators were not on. When I finally told him I’d feel more comfortable if the super looked at the problem, he became extremely cagey and told me we couldn’t involve the super. According to him, the problem with the radiators was all the fault of the management company—to pay him back for not complying with certain building regulations, they were conspiring against him and CAUSING the leak in his apartment. You know, LIKE YOU DO.
THE ENORMOUS FAMILY NEXT DOOR
I have lived here for four and a half years, and I still have absolutely no idea who actually lives in the apartment next door to me. There are so many people coming and going at all times that it’s impossible to tell. I’m pretty sure they’re all related. On the weekends, they throw these enormous, loud family get-togethers—once I came home to find the door wide open and a live mariachi band playing inside. (I also noticed that they have covered over their gorgeous hardwood floors with sea green linoleum.) None of the children who live there seem to have a bedtime, and they love to play a game that involves crashing into my bedroom wall with so much force that the entire room shakes. Sometimes they do this as late as 2 AM.
ANNE (across the hall)
Anne is the crowning glory of our building. She is—and I do not say this lightly—completely batshit crazy. She once posted a long diatribe on all the elevator doors, accusing her next door neighbor of the following transgressions:
1) erasing songs from her CDs
2) disconnecting and blocking her phone calls
3) throwing liquids through her kitchen windows
4) turning her computer on and off remotely
5) causing her desktop icons to move around
6) messing with the volume of her tape deck
7) causing her to “hear the sounds of birds”
8) working in league with the police so that none of this could be stopped.
A few weeks ago, she plugged in her vacuum cleaner, turned it on, and left it running FOR SEVERAL DAYS. When people complained about the noise, she left the following note tacked to her door:
“To anyone who reads this note: Should you wish to complain about the sound of a vacuum cleaner it is because I am trying to cover an unrelenting bombardment of noise in my ears which prevents me from sleeping, gives me a headache and makes me dizzy. It is real and not a figment of my imagination. The police is not able to investigate because they are prevented from doing so from “higher up.” Unfortunately, the board refuses to accept that what is going on is intentional. The police told me equipment being used is sophisticated and Homeland Security uses it. How did it get in the building? Sorry about the inconvenience. It’s been like this since last night.”
Guys, I could not make this up if I tried.
Fortunately, I live in the corner of the building, so I share my remaining wall with the elevator. It is a very quiet and considerate neighbor.