Reasons to Buy Your Own Home; or The Day We Almost Died (Again)
Recently (and by recently I mean like 7 months ago), we moved to a new apartment. At first our new digs seemed like Utopia on the Prairie: a quiet tree-lined side street close enough to walk to all the action without having to hear it, two bedrooms, two baths and a private rooftop deck from which to admire the entire skyline and have outdoor movie nights projected onto the chimney. That, and loogie-hocking contests onto unsuspecting hipsters passing below. Wholesome family fun. We made friends with the couple on the second floor and chatted with the guys on the first floor. All was sunshine and smiles.
About a month after we moved in, however, the couple downstairs moved out and our sweet abode began to sour. The stench that wafted in was courtesy of our new downstairs neighbors, a pair of ladies who descended on our quiet building with all the daintiness of a herd of rampaging elephants. Rampaging elephants with a pair of little yippie sh!t dogs.
It was about this time that we began to realize that in their haste to get this edifice erected, the builders apparently neglected to fully insulate between the floors. While we had an inkling the building was not of first-rate construction, it was never really an issue, because prior to the Elephant Twins, everyone living here was cognizant of their impact on the overall peace of the building and was sure to keep things to a bearable din.
Apparently, no one bothered to inform Jumbo and Dumbo.
Mere days after they moved in—which itself was like listening to a full marching band being crammed into the back of a Honda Civic—we began to realize the full implications of our new existence. First, we laid awake listening to the dogs go on an extended freakout of high-pitched repetitive yelps; then a couple days after that, were rudely confronted by the Harpy-in-Chief (HiC) as she banged on our back door (which is disturbing enough in and of itself), demanding to know why we were thumping around (we weren’t; we were in bed…uh…reading). Then, the following weekend, HiC left early in the morning, leaving the gate to the back parking lot wide open, an act ultimately resulting in the theft of my bicycle. (Such is life near the bleeding edge of gentrification. Ideally, though, we should have caught the guy, as he was beating the lock with such vigor that it shook the whole metal deck structure that runs up the back of the building right by our bedroom window. Assuming it was just another Ringling Sisters practice session, however, we did nothing about it. Lesson learned there.) When HiC returned that evening, she stormed upstairs to confront us as to why we had parked in her parking spot and when she could expect us to move our car. We said, “never, because the parking spots are not assigned. Oh, and by the way, you left the gate open and now my bike is gone. Thanks.” Her reaction was a terse dismissal, followed by her leaving the gate open another eight times that month, plus the front gate and the actual front door of the building. A number of humorous-fading-to-stern notes did nothing to curb the problem, and by the time we got home from work, we were too tired to deal with it. Our call to the landlord did nothing other than incur his rancor at being disturbed during cocktail hour (it was 10 a.m.).
Out of options, we did what any reasonable person would do: we had a huge party that involved imitations of Irish step dancing. That got their attention. Unfortunately, only the Junior Harpy was home and she was none too pleased that she had to come up and bang on our door at 3 a.m. to ask us to knock it off. We agreed, mostly because we were all too far gone to keep going, and disbanded. In the morning, we found a little shrubbery on our front stoop, along with a note of apology for her closing down our party.
So THAT’S how it works down there…the Harpy keeps a feeble supplicant!
Seizing on this new knowledge, we go down and chat with she who has become known as “The Nice One.” We apologized for the step dancing, indoor cornhole games and bass contest, and went on to describe how we’re usually not that bad, but we felt the need to illustrate our annoyance with the behaviors that we collectively determined to be the sole acts of her roommate, whom she described as “a bitch”. We left agreeing that we would be more aware of our noise and she would talk to the HiC about her myriad shortcomings.
The arrangement went peaceably for the next few weeks, after which they quickly devolved into the same old shenanigans, including banging on the ceilings, walls and floors over trifling infractions (a dropped feather, a tumbling dust bunny), clomping around in high heels with radios blaring at 7 a.m., and of course, the damn gate was back open! Additionally, she’s taken to smoking in her bedroom which is directly below ours. In a normal building, that would be none of our concern, but it seems that floors poorly insulated against noise are also poorly insulated against cigarette smoke. This is kind of a problem, because I have an allergy to cigarette smoke. That and bitch.
Team Conison immediately resolved to go with the nuclear option, pulling out all the stops. Al—whose footfalls are akin to a pile driver set on 11—began walking with her full force, we began picking up heavy things and dropping them for no reason whatsoever, and leaving the TV on ridiculously loud at night. Childish? Yes. Gratifying? Absolutely. (Honestly, this is social Darwinism: if the HiC is too stupid to realize that as we’re on the third floor, the only people we impact is her, but she being on the second floor means she’s pissing off both the first and third floors, then she deserves the full fury of an angry Conison. And if her supplicant is willing to be collateral damage in this clash of titans rather than effect change, we’re really kind of at an impasse, now, aren’t we? The main point is that we’re older than her and we have more insurance.)
OH! Almost forgot about the dying part.
So I get home a little early today and notice that the main stairwell smells a bit like natural gas. I take a couple of whiffs, but given that I’m a little seasonally congested, I’m not entirely sure, and figure that since it’s a cold day, maybe somebody’s furnace is working overtime. I go to our apartment, still not entirely sure, but too tired to care and go take a nap. About an hour later, Al comes home to find the front door to the building wide open and the Supplicant and a guy from the first floor chatting in the stairwell. A few curious questions later, it comes out the the HiC had left a burner going on the stove all day (unlit) and it had filled her apartment with gas and they were airing it out so we all DIDN’T EXPLODE IN A RAGING FIREBALL OF DESTRUCTION!!!
And that’s why you should buy your own home. That and a front yard.