The war downstairs

Is it wrong to wish death upon your neighbor?

Not death, necessarily, but I’d be lying if I said this woman wasn’t far from death’s door when we moved in a few months ago.

To understand the backstory here, imagine this blog post as one of those really clever episodes of Mad Men or Alias (remember that?) when they start at the end, jump backward an indeterminate span of time, and show you in 42 minutes how the lead character winds up with a bloody nose or at gunpoint or something (in this case) less dramatic.

The folks who lived in our apartment before us moved out because they started smelling cigarette smoke wafting in through their windows and convectors. But the price was right and conditions prime for us to get the heck out of dodge (aka our dank pit downstairs (aka Tom Ridge’s house)), so we rationalised that the smoke probably wasn’t *that* bad, and the lady who lived here was preggers afterall and was probably being sensitive to smells… and we signed on the dotted line. The building manager told us that the source of the smoke was in all likelihood an older woman who was no longer healthy enough to go outside for her ciggy breaks. Id points out that *MAYBE* the ciggy habit has something to do with our downstairs neighbor’s fragile health, but far be it for downstairs neighbor–let’s call her Ashtray–to recognize irony this late in the game.

To add insult to injury, I received a phone call from our building’s front desk while shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond for grownup’s candy and toys new apartment essentials the day after we moved in, inquiring with me exactly when all the banging and loud noises would stop, because evidently it’s rather unneighborly to construct affordable Swedish furniture in one’s own apartment. (And because evidently I’m apartment mom, but that’s a whole other story.) Ego has rarely seen me more enraged. So less than 24 hours in our new abode and we’ve already opened hostilities against one (but, let’s be honest, probably several) of our neighbors.

Secret Sam watching football. Isn't he cute?

Ashtray lights up at around 4 or 5pm weekdays–quitting time for most adults with normal people’s schedules–then moves to one of the back bedrooms at around 8 or 9pm–bedtime for most adults without insomnia, which mercifully doesn’t describe me or Ego. The result is a predictable pattern of wafty smoke that governs by when we should close our windows and/or shut off our heating units. Overall, not the most annoying thing about living here, but still just annoying enough that it prompts stiletto dance parties and the smuggling of secret noisemaking dogs into our apartment.

We often find ourselves wondering when she’d just die already, give our lungs and linens a break. But until then we’ll just combat her stinky habits with an army of scented candles, an artillery of Febreeze, and the hope that when she goes, she doesn’t leave a lit cigarette behind. Because like smoke, fire rises.


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January 2010
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