Regular readers of my weblog, of which there are few, know that I rarely post entries of a personal nature. However, this is a truly momentous occasion which takes place as I write. I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy! I am as giddy as a drunken man! My neighbours are moving out!
Those who have visited my apartment know my neighbours well, or rather they know them well enough. They have heard the almost constant rhythmic hand-clapping, the screams, the shrieks, the chants, the whining, the yelling, the strange high-pitched yelps, the stomping and the running about the apartment, and that was just the lady of the house. When I first moved in just over three and a half years ago, I thought the young couple were entertaining a baby. As the years passed the noises only grew more strange, more infantile. The assumed child was not maturing. My next theory was that there was a cute and cuddly pet involved, like a puppy or a kitten. However, I heard no barks, no mews, and the noises didn’t sound like noises intended for pets. After that, I didn’t want to know.
Do not misunderstand me; the man of the house was no sane one, although he was much more subdued in comparison to his female companion. Come playoff season, however, he would holler at his television set as if his life depended on the outcome of the game, as if the mistakes of just one player caused him considerable disgust or pain. Sometimes it was as if he was stuck in traffic, his veins ready to burst. “Fucking idiot! What the fuck are you doing?! Fucking move asshole! Get up, ya fucking loser!” If he could have dove into the television set and throttle the player he was berating, he most surely would have done so. I had heard of such men, and have seen them parodied in movies or sitcoms, but had never come this close to one.
When I moved in, the couple next door had been living there for some two or three years. You might be thinking that, being able to live in such close quarters (the apartment is under 800 square feet with a single bedroom) for over six years, these two must have got along extraordinarily well. You would be wrong. The male in the relationship, whose name I quickly learned is Darren, seemed to hate and loathe his woman as much as I did, perhaps even more so. Almost every one of her noises, even after three years, was quickly followed by a “Shaddap!” or a “Will you fucking be quiet?”, and that was if he was in a good mood. This only served to strengthen the woman’s resolve, however.
How they managed to live in that apartment for six years is beyond me, especially since neither of them seemed to have a job of any sort. Whenever I happened to be home, either if I took a day off, or was sick, left late for work or came home early, someone was always there, usually both of them. They would leave, certainly, sometimes in the early morning, but they would always be back within hours, stomping up the back steps and slamming doors. Their shut-in lifestyle was such that I began to assume that the couple was independently wealthy.
It should be obvious by now that I will not miss the two freaks who lived next door. I will not miss their strange noises, their conversation or their arguments. In a way, however, they served their purpose, much like the guests of Maury or of Judge Mills Lane serve their purpose. Ultimately, that purpose is to make us feel better about ourselves. Because no matter how odd or strange we may think ourselves to be, there is always someone ready to lower the bar. A toast to those strangers who used to live next door, for they have made me feel exceptionally sane indeed.