Discuss: My Neighbors, the Bagpipers
Oct 19, 2012
Downtown apartment living has many perks. My favorite restaurants are steps from my front door, and food can be delivered at virtually any hour of the day. I get to enjoy the pool in the summertime. And I don’t have to worry about taking out the trash or mowing the lawn.
One drawback, however, is how difficult it can be to share space with dozens of other people who you may or may not know. When your neighbors have a fight and shout things like, “All I do is work all day and look beautiful, and all you do is criticize me and drink beer,” you hear that. When they walk to the trash room wearing nothing but a bathrobe and Uggs, you see that. And when they cook a delectable pork roast for their dinner party, you smell that (and make a mental note to become better friends with the people in 1014).
For the past three weeks, nearly every night at 11:00PM, I have heard the sounds of a commotion followed by the aggressive thumping of my neighbor’s headboard against a wall that’s clearly taken more hits than Muhammad Ali.
In the beginning, this near-nightly chorus of slams and thuds was amusing. Again? That’s four times this week. Good for them. By the second week, it became a humorous annoyance. Doth I hear the slamming of a headboard? It must be 11:00PM. But now, at the close of week three, it’s just.not.funny.anymore. Are you freaking kidding me?!?!? *turns up volume on television to 29*
Now, I don’t usually go to bed before midnight (I don’t sleep. I blog.), but last night, I crawled under the covers a little after 10:00 PM, only to be awoken by the broken staccato of oak on plaster minutes later. This leaves me with a dilemma: Obviously, I don’t want to listen to 15-30 minutes of outtakes from the musical STOMP! five-nights-a-week. But I firmly believe that my neighbors have the right to do whatever they want in that apartment, as often as they want.
In fact, I’m happy for them. It’s somewhat comforting to know that two people can be so attracted to one another that “bagpiping” 5-6 times per week is considered normal. But I.cannot.live.this.way for the remaining 11 months of my lease. And this is not the first time that something like this has happened to me during my eight years in D.C.
In 2005, a former next door neighbor dated a woman who the entire sixth floor referred to as The Screamer. She had pipes like Christina Aguilera and an X-rated vocabulary that would have made Jenna Jameson blush. After a few weeks of having the calm of our weekend nights broken by her loud chanting, and nearly a dozen letters sent from building management without reply, another neighbor and I decided to take decisive action.
In short, we borrowed a bullhorn from a relative of hers and then sat on the floor in my bedroom waiting for The Screamer to make her entrance. Once she did, my friend began moaning–ala When Harry Met Sally–into the bullhorn. After a minute or two, the couple realized they were being mocked and stopped. That was The Screamer’s finale performance.
Was this a bit of an over reaction? Probably. But we were 22, severely sleep deprived and trying to study for grad school/med school finals. Drastic measures seemed warranted.
This time, a bit older and wiser, I’d like to handle things more calmly–especially since the only thing I can hear is the sound of drywall being beaten until fork tender.
I’d ignore the thumping if it weren’t so loud, and if it didn’t pain me to watch my pictures hold onto their nails for dear life every time the shaking starts. So I thought that the readers of this blog might have some ideas about to handle this situation. (Moving is not an option, since breaking my lease would cost more than my undergraduate education. And I already tried earplugs, they didn’t help.)
Thus far, the only thing I can think to do is to slide a note under their front door politely asking them to move their bed a little further away from the wall. Though I don’t know what I would write in such a note. (Dear Sir or Madam, While I am not one to begrudge anyone their nightly orgasm, I must respectfully request that you move your bed three inches further away from the western wall of your apartment. Sincerely, Your Sleep Deprived Neighbor and One Very Abused Headboard –P.S. Good for you!) I also don’t know how such a plea would be received. They might be embarrassed, or they might consider my note the opening salvo of World War III.
How would you respond if you were me? How would you react if a neighbor kindly and politely asked you to move your bed a little further from the wall? I’m open to suggestions, leave them in the comments.