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Last month, I unexpectedly got some new downstairs neighbors. One random day, the people I had lived above for months and had become closer personal friends with, blonde girl and her boyfriend, were gone. They had been living beneath us for less than a year, and it wasn’t anywhere near the first of the month, so I was confused.
Did they get evicted? Did they just bounce? Was that apartment going to be filled, or was my landlord going remodel it over the winter so he could rack the price up come spring? I never got the answer to my first questions, because I never asked, but when I saw the moving truck pull up in our alley, I knew the answer to the last one. And now, a month later, I have many more questions, specifically to the couple that moved below me.
What…what are you cooking?
In my mind, the perfect neighbor is one you never know exists. I have no desire to learn my neighbor’s names, get to know them, or exchange any of the extended pleasantries the unnecessarily polite Midwest loves so much. If I see you in the building or backyard, I’ll throw you a quick nod, and I expect nothing more in return.
However, our old neighbors did make an effort to be friendly and actually came by my back door to offer us a home-made dessert about a week after they had moved in, and I have to say, it melted my cold west-coast heart a little bit. Sure, the idea of intentionally interacting with, let alone baking, for your neighbors is super weird to me. And yes, the dessert in question was flan, arguably the grossest dessert possible, but it was a nice gesture. And even more importantly, it was the only evidence I ever had that the people that lived below me cooked food.
My new neighbors, however, have provided me with tons of evidence that they cook, and not in hand-delivered-flan form. Instead, it’s in the form of smells. The odors are not always unpleasant, but they are consistently unlike anything I have ever smelled before. Also, sometimes they’re unpleasant. They emanate through the pipes, force themselves through cracks in our walls, and sneak their way into my apartment through any means necessary.
At this point, I know it’s not going to stop. And how would it? Am I going to go over there and ask them to cook…less aggressively? Better food? No, at this point, all I want to know is what the food is, and maybe if I could try some because I’m fascinated.
What’s your leg work out?
You’d think, that as the upstairs neighbor, the worry about making too much noise would rest on me. That’s the upside to living above someone, right? They have to deal with your footsteps, and you have to deal with them banging a broom on their ceilings occasionally. However, that is not the case for me. Somehow, the sound of their footsteps are clearly audible from my apartment ten feet above. How is this possible? Both of my neighbors weigh less than me. The physics just don’t add up. The only explanation is that they’re Olympic high jumpers, and they practice those jumps all day, every day. As someone who is still recovering from hip surgery and wants to regain my vertical, this is very interesting to me. So I gotta know, what’s the workout plan? I, too, want to be able to crack floorboards with my steps.
How can two people lose their keys so many times?
We’ve had these neighbors for about a month, and in that time, they’ve locked themselves out of their apartment three times. Three times. That’s how many times I’ve locked myself out of my apartment in my life. I know it’s been three times because that’s how many times I’ve lent them my toolbox that they’ve somehow used to break back into their home, which is worrying in its own right.
Am I annoyed? Not at all. I understand the frustration with being locked out, and I can’t handle the bad karma that would come from not helping them out in their time of need. Hell, I locked myself out last February in only gym shorts and a t-shirt, and thankfully, a kind neighbor helped me back in (shout out blonde girl and her boyfriend, you left us too soon). I will gladly always help them jimmy their way back into their place, I’m just genuinely confused with how it’s happened so many times.
Do they share one set of keys? Do neither of them have pockets? Should I just buy them a spare key as a housewarming gift? Should they just stop locking their doors? I never lock my back door and I’ve never had anything stolen, possibly because my roommate and I have nothing worth stealing. It just seems like whatever system they currently have, it’s not working.
Have you tried couples therapy?
Now, I don’t want to pry into other people’s business. Hell, I don’t even want to pry into my own business. If I could deal with no one’s emotions for the rest of my life, including my own, I’d be cool with that. However, since I’ve been listening to these two fight for the past four weeks, I thought maybe it was time to offer a suggestion. If they don’t want to/can’t afford couple’s therapy, believe me, I understand that. I’ll even do it for free. Here we go.
My man, you gotta stop yelling at your girlfriend about going out with her work friends. I know literally nothing about the situation outside of what I can clearly hear reverberating through my floor, but if she’s not already fucking a coworker, you acting super jealous is going to be the final straw that causes it to happen. Either break up or get less controlling, I don’t care which.
Giiiirl, what are you doing? No, babe, no. I get it. You work hard. Like, really hard. I see you coming home in your business casual outfit at 8 p.m. You deserve to go a little wild and blow off steam on the weekends. But for the love of god, can you blow it off more quietly? I’m gonna be straight with you, hon, cos I love you. You’re a shit show when you drink. Am I any better? No, of course not. Yes, my roommate and I almost killed you throwing beers at the train tracks last month. I know. I’m sorry. You should know better to walk down that alley at 4pm on a Saturday. But still, girl. You got to get it together. Stop screaming at your boyfriend at three in the morning. Stop bringing up “that slut Abby.” It’s just not healthy. Drink some water, eat some bread, and go to sleep.
Or just break up. Whatever works. I don’t care, I just want to be able to fall asleep at 9pm on a Friday night like the old man that I am. .