It starts around 3:00 p.m.—the thump, thump, thump of the bass from a stereo somewhere in the building. “It’s the weekend,” the ghost of my younger self insists. “Relax. Let people enjoy their music.” My current self, who enjoys a free senior Diet Coke at Wendy’s, was not so chill.
The music isn’t constant, but the intervals of silence aren’t nearly long enough. I distract myself playing on my iPad, watching reality TV. The drama, backstabbing, and strategizing are enough to drown out the noise. For a while.
The revolving door on the apartment downstairs has created a huge pain in my ass.
Now it’s 7:00 p.m. I still can’t figure out whether it’s coming from above or below me. I step into the hall and am hit with a wall of weed. Despite the lousy acoustics, it’s clear the music—and the cloud—are coming from the tenant below.
He’s been here less than a week.
I go back inside, ranting and raving under my breath about how unfair it is that once again the revolving door on the apartment downstairs has created a huge pain in my ass. From ungodly middle-of-the-night noise and cigarette smoke to shady visitors, and, oh yeah, the pathological liar with the yappy dog—I’ve had my fill over three and a half years.
It’s now clear the tenant below is no longer by himself as loud conversation drifts through the air vents. I imagine them drinking beer and smoking bongs and try to ignore it, but there is screaming and yelling, and the music is So. Fucking. Loud.
Those Were the Days
I used to love loud music. Back in the day, my roommates and I threw killer parties where the weed was strong and the worm at the bottom of the Jose Cuervo bottle never survived the night. One time, while Billy Idol screamed what a nice day it was for white wedding, an “older” neighbor appeared in our living room. At 30-something, he was completely out of place.
“Turn that crap down!” he screamed over the din.
Somebody obeyed. He was an elder, after all.
I could call the police. But that’s kind of a dick move for a first offense.
“I banged on the door for five minutes,” he spat. “You idiots left the door unlocked.” We offered him a drink. He passed.
Now I’m the one out of place.
What the hell do I do? I could call the police. But that’s kind of a dick move for a first offense. What if I stomped around for a while? Would they even hear me? Maybe I could go downstairs and ask them to pipe down. But I have no idea what I’ll find on the other side of the door, and I don’t like that.
The Tipping Point
By 9:00 p.m. I’m ready to kill someone.
I’m not even dressed. I mean I am dressed, but in pants with holes and a shirt that may have had remnants of my last meal on it—there is no bra involved—but dammit, I’m going in. I throw on a jacket and start down the stairs. The arthritis in my knee forces me to one-step it, and I muster as much authority as possible while looking like an angry flamingo.
As I turn the corner at the bottom, a guy who appears to be 12 stumbles out the front door of the apartment. He looks at me, and I look at him. Then I knock on the door. He mumbles, “They’re never going to hear you, ma’am,” and pushes on the door for me. It opens, and he weaves between me and door frame. “She’s out here freakin’ out, man,” he yells.
Freaking out? On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m not even out of the gate.
I get a glimpse of a half dozen 20-year-olds sitting around the living room. Shouts of “turn it down,” “turn it off, man!” and “I’m sorry” fight to be heard over the never-ending electronic drivel that should only be played at foam parties that involve Ecstasy.
Suddenly, it’s quiet.
“I’ve been patient all day,” I lecture like a kindergarten teacher. “Now it’s 9 o’clock on Sunday night, and you need to have some respect for your neighbors. This is not a great way to introduce yourself to the building.”
The End of a Dream
They slur profuse apologies, and I walk off in a self-righteous huff. Climbing the steps, my younger self chides, “You’ve really harshed their buzz.”
“But I deserve some peace and quiet,” counters free senior Diet Coke lady. “And this has been going on for six hours.”
I call to share my humiliation with my 78-year-old mother.
Back in my place, I plop down in the chair and open my iPad. But the new elder in the room isn’t done. “They really ought to have more consideration. It’s a Sunday night for God’s sake. People have to work tomorrow.”
Then it hits me.
Today is Saturday.
In an instant the dream dies. The dream of partying in my old age, gray hair flowing in the breeze as I rock a tie-dyed caftan on my porch swing smoking a well-rolled joint while I annoy my neighbors by blasting The Clash and The Kinks. The hippie I once believed I was now has morphed into an exhausted 55-year-old woman with joint pain and carpal tunnel syndrome who enjoys being home alone on a Saturday night watching reruns of Law & Order.
I call to share my humiliation with my 78-year-old mother, and she points out the saving grace is that they are all too wasted to remember what I said. We share a laugh. Then I pack my one hitter and fire one up. Maybe there’s hope for me yet.