My next door neighbour is a mystery. I have given up on trying to discover anything juicy that would make her a proper sitcom neighbour. But there was a point, when I first moved in here with husband, all bright eyed and eager to be a super homemaker with a great sex life and all sorts of woks and kitchen utensils for hosting edgy dinner parties…I was going to reinvent marriage in a cool, modern way- when I thought my neighbours would unwrap themselves slowly, become real people with quirks and personalities. Maybe one neighbour would borrow sugar one time, or offer me some of the biscuits they baked. We might become balcony buddies and chat about nothing while hanging our clothes out to dry. A world of possibilities, from each blank window on the building’s face, a fully fleshed out character would emerge with petty squabbles and holiday plant-watering capabilities.
My building has six floors and each floor has two apartments with a similar cramped layout.
In a year and a half of apartment life, I have become aware of the existence of:
My next door neighbour, who I know is eastern european of some kind, and smokes. She is skinny with black straightened hair and wears tight jeans. She is attractive but not beautiful, and has no ass or tits worth mentioning (but I did anyway, yo). She’s a bit nondescript, really. Husband was convinced she was a prostitute based on the fact that he saw her “out and about” early in the morning (9am) and that meant she must have been up all night and just coming home from her prostitute shift. I suggested maybe she’s a nurse, but he rejected that theory. I suggested she got up earlier than us retail monkeys and went to the market before work or something. He frowned. No. He played his favorite card, the Jack of “I’m from South America so I know more about the seedy underbelly of the world, plus I’m older than you and you’re just some Gringa”. I hate that shit, and anyway you don’t insist you’re an authority on hookers to your wife, it doesn’t get you fucking points, it gets you a paranoid wife and a lot of arguments. But anyway. Neighbour does get a lot of visitors to her apartment, but never very late at night and I think maybe she just has a decent number of friends. The buzzer sounds like it’s ringing in my apartment so I regularly answer and it depresses me because, of course it’s not for me, I don’t have any friends. I see this woman anyway very rarely, she goes out to her balcony to smoke (who does that? She lives alone for fucks sake!) and I never venture to my balcony unless it’s to leave the binbags there when I can’t be bothered bringing them downstairs yet but can’t cope with the smell of them in my kitchen any more, and I always feel terrible shame when I see how neat and nice her balcony is and how revolting mine is. She has a nice rug and some little ugly ornaments and some living plants with potholders, and all I have are some old buckets of paint and a few dead, dried out sticks that used to be basil and aloe vera and even some dead cacti (that’s right, I even kill cacti) and my friend the rotting potato. (I’ll update that photo, the months have not been kind to him.)
My upstairs neighbour, the old man who thinks I stole his sock-
It allegedly landed on my balcony while I was cooking before some friends arrived, and I was in no mood to meet my neighbours. It started raining so I brought all my clothes in and threw them in a heap. He came down and started banging on my door, threw a hissy fit and insisted his sock fell and wanting to see my balcony. I asked him calmly, did your sock fall just now? Yes yes just now! I’m like, right because about an hour ago I took in all my clothes when it started raining. There’s nothing on the balcony now. I checked. No no it was just now! So it was after I had taken in the clothes? Yes yes! Well then, it must have fallen off my balcony too. If it was just sitting on the clothes line, it could have fallen off and onto someone else’s balcony. Later it emerged that his sock was in fact amongst my clothes and if he’d calmed down and told me when he lost his sock instead of screeching at me I would have looked amongst the clothes, but he wrecked my head over the next three days ringing the doorbell enquiring after his sock, convinced I had done something with it and wanting to search my apartment. He was furious but my massive pile of clothes was not going to be searched through that weekend. We had a guest staying who also had foreign socks to my apartment, and we had a party as well so were a little hung over to deal with this guy’s shit. Eventually I found his sock and gave it back but he angrily said he had already thrown out the other one. Anyway, this man goes through the bins to see if I have or have not recycled properly. (hint: I have not)
The irritable Peruvian family downstairs. The mother hates me because we had a moment in Lidl… I didn’t know she lived in the building, and I was in Lidl queueing for freaking ages, and this guy comes up from the BACK of the queue and just walks up to me (I’m next in line) and smirks and says “I just have one thing” and puts it in front of me like a presumptive asswipe, and I’m not about to be a dick even though he is one, so I just give him a filthy look and shrug, because it is only one thing but fuck him he’s not getting off the hook totally. Then from somewhere behind, this middle aged south american cunt comes up and gives me a smarmy, fake, nun-like smile and says “I only have a few things” (she had like five items less than me) and starts putting them down on the conveyor belt too… presuming it’s fine and I’m just the fucking place holder for everyone who has been queueing less time.. so I’m like “eh… excuse me, no” and she gives me this expression that makes me want to smack her in the face (I told you she reminded me of an old nun, with that stupid innocent, ignorant face…) and she simpers “I only have a few things” and I’m furious now, all my pent up Lidl indignation from years of being passed over in queues: “well if I have to let everyone who has less items go ahead of me, I’ll never get home, and look that guy already passed me so no” and she picked up her UHT milk and hydrogenated vegetable fat muffins looking extremely hurt and went back to her place RIGHT BEHIND ME. I had about 12 things. What the fuck is wrong with this woman? Bitch. but now I see her in the hall and it is AWKWARD. Fuck her anyway. I think she told her husband because he doesn’t seem to be allowed to meet my eyes, but that’s cool I don’t like him either.
And that’s all the neighbours I have ever seen. Oh, except for the bitch upstairs who my husband caught in the act of shaking her rug out over my clean, drying clothes hung on the line on the balcony. This was the day after I had washed the clothes again because I always saw crumbs and dust and crap on my clean clothes if I left them out overnight and this time I had found actual human toenail clippings and oh man that was gross, all over my clean clothes. So I washed everything again, totally grossed out, and this dickfaced old corpse of a woman was shaking her rug, back at the scene of the crime. FYI, the balcony goes around the side of the building too. Everyone has a clothes line where I have mine,she could shake her rug over the street by just turning to her right, and it’s not a busy street, no one ever walks there. Anyway she apologised but I got a drier after that because she still does it and it’s pig ignorant.
So those are my neighbours. I haven’t seen anyone else in a year and a half living here. That’s weird…
Sometimes on Sunday mornings I hear some weird noises like machinery and I imagine it’s some sort of chair lift being used to bring down some elderly occupant of an upstairs apartment. I presume for church or some other futile excercise, and it’s annoying because I work every morning of the week except for Sunday and the noise wakes me up.
It only started a few months ago, just after I put a stop to my previous Sunday morning wake up call.
This former source of annoyance and eye-bleeding was the music of my next door neighbour, the prostitute/nurse.
She used to begin her own day and to a worse extent, mine, with Romania’s greatest hits. You know what that means. Numa numa. That’s right. It used to drive me fucking crazy. Waking up at 8am on a Sunday to fucking Numa numa.
It went on for weeks as I tried in vain to smother myself with my pillow, writihing in agony on the bed wishing I could go back to fucking sleep on the only day of the week I could…
I’m too much of a pussy to knock on the wall. Passive aggression is more my style.
But one Sunday, she changed the cd. (I presume she still uses cds because I am racist like that)
It was the Bee Gees. How deep is your love. Oh man I love that song. That’s like, my song.
I love it. I love it even though I have the voice of a chain smoking rat being fed into a sausage mill. I can’t resist joining in, I don’t care if someone hot is sitting nearby, I could be in a job interview and I’d burst into song.
So my desire to sleep falls away and I’m soon bouncing on my bed (still lying horizontal, but it’s the only way to bounce without breaking the wooden supports) screeching “AND THE MOOOMENT THAT you wonder FAAAAR FROM ME I WANNA FEEL YOU IN MY ARMS AGAIN!!!” And I get really into it, and we’ve just got to my favorite most impossible for my lousy female voice to sing part,
“AND IT’s ME YOU NEEED TO SHOW!!!”
And she switches off the music and it’s dead quiet. And I was angry for a second and then I realised, Eu fucking reka, I just figured out how to keep Numa numa off the airwaves.
So every time she forgets how thin the walls are, I roll up my sleeves and get down and dirty with the worst music on the planet and she soon gets the hint and we have silence again.
Anyway, now you know all my neighbours. I have to say I’m disappointed with the quality of neighbours I have. The only one I don’t despise is the prostitute/nurse. She’s ok, but we’re not exactly swapping recipes across our balconies… I have to say I’m disappointed.