Every apartment complex has those neighbors. The ones who play deafeningly loud music instead of sleeping and whose visitors always monopolize the communal parking spaces. On Wednesday evening, I was preparing dinner at N’s apartment. He lives beachside and, like most ocean housing, open windows and sea breezes make up for the lack of central A/C. I was in the midst of dicing onions while the scent of Italian-spiced chicken wafted in the background, when my serene Julia Childs moment was interrupted by a gruff voice.
“Esscuse me,” he said, in a thick Eastern European accent.
Peering out of the kitchen window, I came face to face with a bald middle-aged man staring me down from his apartment next door. N, nearby at his computer desk, also paused in response to this unexpected third party. I should also mention that the man was shirtless. Covered in a burly forest of chest hair, his pudgy, bulbous figure gleamed beneath the moonlight. From my vantage point, I could only view his head and torso. I don’t even want to imagine the possibilities of what could have been happening from the waist down.
“When yooh two are making luhve, can yooh please close the weendows?” he remarked. “Everyone can hear you. I’m seerious guys.”
The color drained from my face (and probably N’s as well). Admittedly, I tend to be on the more vocal side in the bedroom. But ladies I can assure you, if N was your lover, you’d have difficulty keeping quiet too. Embarrassed by this man’s simple request, my mind began to race. N did have two large (open) windows hovering right above his bed. And, the apartment complex next door was only a few arm’s lengths away. How many nights had we kept N’s helpless neighbors awake? How long have they been boiling with resentment over our lack of common courtesy?
N quickly apologized to the European man across the way and promised that there wouldn’t be any future noise disturbances. Seemingly satisfied, the half-nude man huffed at us and drew his blinds closed. N and I looked at each other for a moment, silent and in equal acknowledgment of our carelessness. Red-faced, I returned to my onion chopping duties and resumed dinner preparation. Did that just really happen? I came to a stark realization that evening. It’s true that every apartment complex has those neighbors. And we were them.