Turns out the people above us were sexual juggernauts. They had the same loud sex again later that night, around 10 PM. And then one more time just after midnight. Mel and I didn’t get much sleep. They were at it again, three times, the next night, and the night after that. It went on like this for weeks. They never really took a night off, per say, but they did slow down some nights, only doing it once in the evening rather than there usual three times a charm. Sometimes, however, they did it four times. I assumed this was to make up for the evenings they missed. I assumed they had a quota.
And while the people upstairs were having what seemed like an inhuman amount of angry loud sex, Mel and I were having very little. The whole ordeal had me thinking about sex all the time, but it seemed to be throwing off our groove, or something, and I remember feeling really bitter. I felt like the people above us were having this amazing sex life, while I was having none. But it was early in our marriage, so I didn’t know how to broach this subject with Mel. I didn’t really know how to bring it up, so I left it alone and hoped, anxiously, for these people to move.
We bought a large box fan to drown out the noise, which worked for the most part, although it made me wake up with dry sinuses and a sore throat.
Mel kept urging me to go talk to the neighbors, and I kept refusing to. “What am I supposed to say to these people? Something like ‘Check it out, we can hear you having really loud sex and, although I hate to ruin a good thing, it’s grossing us out. Can you please keep it down?’”
“Yes,” Mel said. “That's exactly what you should say. You might even suggest that they put a pillow between the headboard and the wall. Even that would make a huge difference. I’m tired of cleaning plaster off the bedspread.”
While Mel is assertive with me, outside of our relationship, she is very soft spoken and reserved. She’s not the kind of person to confront a neighbor, so I knew that she would never run upstairs and chat with them. Rather, she’d just keep asking me until I caved.
One evening, while the neighbors were at it, she did bang on the celling with a broom handle, but all it did was make dents. I don’t think they could hear it over their headboard.
At the time I was waiting tables at the Olive Garden. For a full month I’d made it a point not to see the people upstairs. I was terrified that they were really unattractive. Or worse, really old. It was bad enough to hear the people above me having sex, but imagining them as unattractive people was just too much, so I imagined that they were Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, who were still an item at the time. Part of the problem was my age. In my early 20’s, I made the false assumption that beautiful sex was only something attractive people did. When I think back on this assumption, I realize it is irrational and offensive. Especially now that I am a slightly overweight 30-something with kids. I am the unattractive person having sex, and it isn’t gross. It’s magical.
I was running late for work one evening. I opened the front door, and was about to walk to my truck, when I heard the people upstairs open their door. I stepped back inside, shut the door, turned my back to the front window, and waited for them to go down the front steps, get in their car, and leave. However, the two chatted in the parking lot for what seemed like forever.
When my manager asked me why I was 30 minutes late for work, I said that I was trying not to see my neighbors.
“Why don’t you want to see your neighbors?” he asked.
“Because they have really loud sex and I don’t want to meet them. I’m afraid they might be unattractive.”
He snickered, and for a moment I assumed he understood. Instead he said, “That’s not a very good reason to be late for work.”
This was the first time I’d ever been written up in a job.
Mel and I had discussed moving because of all this, but we had a one-year lease on the condo, while most of the other tenants were on a month-to-month lease. We couldn’t afford to break the lease, so we started to feel stuck.
Finally, one evening, after listening to the people upstairs for a little over two months, and us having very little sex, I decided to approach them. It was just after 10 PM, and I could hear their TV. Mel and I chatted about it and decided that I would go upstairs and ask them to turn down their show, and perhaps mention that this was not the only thing I could hear.
I knocked on their door. I was nervous as to what I might see. Perhaps the whole apartment would be full of sex toys, blow up dolls and swings, that sort of thing. Perhaps someone would answer wearing a leather mask with a zipper over the mouth.
I’d started feeling like we lived below an adult film studio.
A man opened the door. He was a little taller than me, probably about 5’ 10”, with blond short cut hair and a small gut. Behind him was a young brunette with curvy hips and a nice smile. The TV was on. They weren’t especially good looking, but at the same time, they weren't gross, either. In fact, on a scale of one to ten, I would say they were both a 7.
I looked at them for a moment before speaking, and realized that my fear of them being really unattractive was completely ridiculous.
I told them that I lived in the condo below, and that I could hear their TV.
“Would you mind turning it down?” I said. “I have to be up in the morning.”
This was a lie. I didn’t have to be up before 9AM, but I wanted my concern to sound legitimate.
“Really?” he said.
“Yup,” I said. “In fact, I know that you are watching The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
“Wow,” He said. “I didn’t think it was that loud.”
“I doubt that it is,” I said. “The walls are really thin here. I can hear lots of things.” I paused for a moment. Then I raised my eyebrows, looked at him and his wife, and said, “LOTS… OF… THINGS.”
The man smiled. Then his wife placed her hand over her mouth.
“Oh… I didn’t realize,” he said.
I nodded, “Yeah…”
We stood in silence for a while. Then I told him thanks, and then I went down stairs.
Mel asked me how it went, and I told her.
“Good!” She said. “I hope they cut it out.”
The people above us moved out a week or so later. We never heard them having sex again. I have to assume they moved into a cabin in the woods where no one could hear them.
The people who moved in next were much quieter in bed. We could still hear a few things, but turning on the box fan cleared it right up.
Mel and I moved out at the end of our lease. However, I will admit that for the next few years, I wondered why my sex life wasn’t as loud and crazy as what I’d heard for those three months. It took me some time to realize that sex is something that two loving people do privately, and they establish its value. There is no right and wrong.
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