There are good neighbors and there are bad. Pete and I have had both. The worst were probably in Eugene our senior year. The guys upstairs left their empties in the hall and fell asleep in the laundry room; the people next door were drug dealers who partied late into the night on weeknights. (I called the police non-emergency line on them multiple times when they were non-responsive to polite requests for quiet so that those of us with morning classes could get some sleep.) Mostly I think of good neighbors as ones you either know well, like those I grew up with, or ones you never know at all. Right now, I consider our across-the-hall neighbor pretty good (I can't remember her name, so I will call her The Pretty One because she's pretty, if very skinny). She's quiet, she keeps to herself, when she has people over it's never very many and then the only sounds that carry into the hall are of laughter and talking. I'm not sure about our upstairs neighbor right now (I will call them Other Lady and Guy). They seem pretty good, except for one or two loud domestic disputes that went something like this:
Other Lady: [loud indistinct shouting and maybe crying]
Guy: [Angry responses]
Other Lady: [Punctuated retorts] Now! [Indistinct shouting and definitely crying, but of the angry variety]
Guy: I don't even know what you're so mad about!
Other Lady: [Screaming crying stomping door slams]
Guy: Fine! [front door slams, runs down stairs, down hall, out front door]
We don't know what they fight about, but I'm guessing they don't know how loud they are. The Pretty One is single and so if she has a boyfriend and fights with him, it's at his place of residence. Pete and I are very quiet. We don't really fight, and when we do it's more of a silent resentment kind of fighting punctuated by long discussions in which I explain how even though I know he didn't mean to hurt my feelings he still did and that is a valid emotional response to the situation, and he tries to explain that it's past midnight and he's pretty much already asleep and definitely not able to follow what's going on, and then he falls asleep for real and I stare at him resentfully until I fall asleep. (And in the morning we either very quickly agree on a solution to the problem (real or imagined) or can't remember what we were fighting about and decide that that's as good as a solution.) So I'm sure they have no idea how well voices carry around here, unless they've heard my incredibly loud sneezes or inappropriately loud laughter at things on TV. (Seriously: there is something wrong with me. I cannot control the volume of my laughter while watching sitcoms. Pete can attest to this.)
Our downstairs neighbor is what I would consider not an ideal neighbor. She's not a bad neighbor: no loud parties, no empties at our doorstep, no selling of drugs. But she is a stoner of the highest degree and has this awful hacking cough that sounds like someone vomiting that can be clearly heard from anywhere in the apartment. After Eugene, I knew I wasn't crazy about the smell of pot. Now I know: I hate the smell of marijuana. It is sickening. I don't have anything against people doing it - victimless crime and all that - but please please please, not in shared spaces. What ever happened to the days of trying to cover up the smell of your three-times a day habit? I think I might actually prefer pachoulli or nag champa to the reek that is our shared hallway. (Ask anyone who's visited us: if you're looking for a contact high, bring a lawn chair and breathe deep.)
But as gross as the vomitoughing is and as much as I hate the disgusting smell wafting under the door, she is an ideal neighbor compared to those next door. Yes, the worst neighbor is the Club/Theater. The music routinely continues past 10 (which, as I was informed by the neighborhood watch, is the legal noise ordinance time for weeknights), their patrons vomit in our alley, they leave empties and garbage out front, and garbage from their dumpsters overflows into our little parking lot. Mostly the patrons are disaffected goth or emo kids who roll their eyes as you pass and try to kill you with the sheer force of their nihilism and angst. I kind of like those kids. They want to hear some loud music with a boring bass line (that's really all we can hear - we've only lived here in cold months, so the doors are closed; I bet we hear a lot more as it heats up) and feel like they belong to something. Go ahead: aim your laser beam angst-vision at the squares entering the house next door. But not for too long or people will know you care and your cover will be blown. The patrons who pushed me over the limit were the Insane Clown Posse family-member band (whose name escapes me; I doubt it matters). If you are not familiar with ICP, then lucky you.
These face-paint wearing, generally fat, 30-somethings started showing up at 5 on a saturday to shout obscenities at traffic and chant "FAM-I-LY! FAM-I-LY!" at each other. They dropped empties, they harassed passers-by, they were drunk and idiotic. One of them - in full green and black clown make-up, mind you - shouted, "What're you lookin' at?!" at a car waiting to turn left. Pete was like, "Um, you and your desperate bid for attention, you painted douche?" Yeah, that's probably it. They were just so so so depressing, on top of being scary (they kept threatening to get fucked up and fuck shit up, etc.) because the scariness wasn't from their ICP look, or whatever: it was from the fact that a bunch of adult males, presumably with jobs and desires for their futures, put on clown paint to come stand in front of a very small venue and chant "Family!" with a bunch of other lonely losers for four hours just to see a band that is vaguely related to the group that actually represents their purported ethos. Plus there were the white supremacist overtones inherent in any costumed, aggressive gathering of young-ish white men. (Note to comic nerds: comicons don't count because they're not aggressive. Yes yes, I know, you're very aggressive when dressed as Wolverine because you're "in character," but seriously. Comics. Not scary. Now put down your Japanese purple-heart oak bo and calm down. Here's you're inhaler. Yes, that's a good nerd: deep breaths! It's okay. You don't have to be scary and aggressive to be masculine. We all like you just the way you are. Now run along before your "adamantium" blades wilt any more.)
Anyway, I'm thinking about this tonight because the club is actually quiet for once (and has been since 10!) and when I started writing this half an hour ago my downstairs neighbor was hacking up a lung (it's so so disgusting sounding. I cannot impress upon you enough how nasty her coughing is) and the hall is, shall we say, "fragrant," and it got me thinking. I like this apartment, I don't mind my neighbors most of the time, but I'm beginning to think my standards might be rather too low. Perhaps I should think back to the days of my youth and the neighbors I had then and that is what I should shoot for. But I don't think we'll achieve that kind of situation until we can afford more in rent each month. Until then, try not to smoke yourself too stupid, Stoner Lady! Hey, we can hear you fight, Loud Couple! Um, you're doin' just fine, The Pretty One! Stay Classy, San Diego? (Damnit! I've spent too much time with my brother recently and now I'm broken.)