Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Late Night With Drunken Lettermen

The wife finally had enough of the neighbors last Saturday.

As previously reported in this space, the neighbors adjacent to the back of our house live during the summer months under the delusion that a) their backyard is some kind of all-night club for the extroverted and b) surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the ample amount of noise they create from moving beyond its boundaries.

None of these things are true.

Now you stand a better shot at having them wrap things up at a reasonable hour when the next day is a workday. On a night like that, you’re more than likely to hear them pull the plug at a reasonable 11pm. But on a Friday or Saturday, there’s no telling how they’ll behave. One just bites one’s tongue and hopes to outlast them.

I think, in the interest of equal time, that I should point out that most of the time our neighborhood is a lovely, quiet place to pass the time, barring the passing car blaring the latest anthem of adolescent unrest.

One of my greatest fears, as someone who treasures his peace and quiet and who reacts a little too viscerally to other people’s noise, has always been that I’d never find a place to live where I could have silence when I wanted it, as well as the power to play my own music or movies without bothering anyone.

Being a single, corner residence solves a lot of that automatically. Most of the time it’s a blissful place to be. But it would be our hard luck that the party animals of the block would choose to move into the house right behind us.

Now, you may well arsk, what in the world prevents you from walking over there when they’re carrying on late into the night and asking them to dial it down a notch?

Nothing. But, in my case, I seem to only have two settings: shut up and suffer or scream my bloody head off.

There’s also calling the police, but that runs the risk of instigating a full-fledged neighborhood block war, and those things can escalate quickly. And I’ve already thrown out my camouflage wear from the last one.

The problem is that if I go over to complain, even if I do so with the best of intentions and have promised myself I’ll be as diplomatic as possible, there’s no guarantee that I won’t end up, er, improvising on the subject of their ancestry.

Besides which, I’ve had enough of these sorts of confrontations. They make my stomach hurt and raise my already elevated blood pressure.

So these days I tend to suffer in silence and just hope for the best. They can’t stay up forever. Right?

But last Saturday, around 2am, the wife finally reached her breaking point.

After trying to sleep with the sounds of, let’s call them Mr. And Mrs. Drunkass, continuing to pulse throughout the house, she got up and said, "This is abusive!"

Well, she may have used slightly different language, but that was the gist of it.

"I’m going over to talk to them," she said, getting dressed.

"Are you sure you want to do that, dear?" I asked.

"This is ridiculous. It’s 2 in the morning. I’ve got every right to ask them to turn down the noise."

My stomach began to jump.

"What if they - "

"I’m just going to go over and ask them nicely."

"Yes, dear, but - "

She was already out the door.

I walked through the house to the point farthest from the impending skirmish. I listened carefully for anything out of the ordinary. Nothing.

After about 5 minutes I walked towards the back door with the intention of steadying my nerves with a swallow of decaffeinated iced tea when, at the same time, the wife popped back in.

"What happened?" I asked.

"Well," she said, "first I had to get their attention because the back gate wouldn’t open. So I stood there waving my arms and yelling for a while."

"How’d that go?"

"Well, Mr. [Drunkass] was sprawled out on his chaise lounge under the tiki lights feeling no pain, so it took him a while to notice me. Finally he came over, which wasn’t easy in his condition, and said, ‘Yeah?’"


"Yeah. So I told him that it was really late and he might not realize it but their sound really carries into our bedroom.

"How’d he take it?"

"He stood there for a bit looking like he was trying to process it."

"I don’t envy the thought trying to make its way up to that brain."

"Then he wandered back to the group, said a few words to Mrs. [Drunkass] and the usual gang of inebriated jocks, and now it’s quiet."

I hugged her and said, "You know, I never would have dreamed that the reasonable approach would work with those two."

"I’m not sure it did," the wife said, "I mean…I’m not sure they actually understood what I said. They just knew that some crazy woman was standing at their gate at 2 in the morning and I think it frightened them."

"Well, it worked. That’s all that matters," I said, as the crazy woman and I wandered back into the sanctum sanctorum of Screwloose Manor where madness, and silence, reigned. Slipping back into the sweet embrace of sleep, we dreamt that the battlements were secure.

For now.


Anonymous Cleetus Santana said...

I feel your pain. One neighbor who is an asshole is bad enough-try a whole neighborhood!

One neighbor has been shooting off fireworks for the last several weeks everynight since approximately June 24th. These suckers are one step below commercial fireworks you can see at that local fire company on the 4th. In essence, when darkness falls it's like living in Fallujah under a mortar attack.

Our other "considerate" neighbor loves firewood- chopping, chain-sawing and woodspliting. Nearly everyday afterwork or weekend mornings he will be in his backyard with his chainsaw or gas-powered wood-splitter. Oh boy- here comes another truck load of wood! Get ready- GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Another "friend" down the street has multiple 4-wheelers & motorcycles that he or his kids must run up and down the alley, in his backyard or on the street. Loud is not the word- Welcome to the Indy 500!

Needless to say our nerves are torn & frayed! We are locked inside our house, windows shut and shades drawn. Prisoners in our own house- afraid to venture outdoors. The wife and I are presently looking for property upstate-up in the woods, far from any gas-powered engines or explosives. If we get so lucky to find a place of peace & quiet- maybe we can have you & Mrs. Screwlooseum over to listen to the silence. Ahhhh!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Count Screwloose said...

Jebus. I'm very sorry to hear this. I'd be doing a tapdance in a padded cell by now. At least the patriotic fireworks and logsplitting prove that you're not living next to one of those pesky sleeper cells, with the boxcutters and the big coats and the *glavin*!

It often seems as if everyone is engaged in a competition to see who can make the most goddamn noise. Be careful what you wish for, though, lest you be taught a lesson like The Twilight Zone used to do: you know, Burgess Meredith had all the time in the world to read but then his glasses broke? Things could get very, very quiet only to have it turn out you were deaf, as Rod Serling would then explain to you. Smart alec!

Although sometimes it seems like deafness would be a blessing. For instance, I wouldn't have had to suffer through Bush's "tribute" to the late Peter Jennings:

"Peter Jennings read...the news. He was very...good. Now he is...dead. Farewell,"


Wednesday, August 10, 2005 1:32:00 PM  

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