Item #43 of things I really didn't need to know about my neighbours
06.22.2005

When you live in an apartment building, you often have no choice but to interact with your neighbours, even if you're the next Unibomber. Not that I am the next Unibomber. Honest. Look, the C4 under the kitchen sink is purely for medicinal purposes.

I have always lived in apartments when frankly I am not an apartment person. I like to think of my space as mine. Hey, I'm paying good money for it. I don't give a shit that some robotic corporate entity actually owns the building - if I want to paint my walls fuschia, fill the bathtub with Jello, or explore my grafitti talents in the kitchen, I should damn well be able to. It's my space. Mine. I also like to think of this space that is mine as being my sanctuary, my haven, my little sterile bubble environment that keeps the rest of the world from reaching out and touching me, thereby infesting me with neighbour cooties. There is nothing quite so disconcerting as having my space invaded by the sounds of a herd of elephants with glandular problems stampeding up the stairs, neophyte ballroom dancers practicing their lifts, or Grandma and Grandpa gittin it on directly above my head. That's the other thing landlords won't allow - soundproofing foamcore installed on the walls and ceilings.

I've had neighbours knock on my door and offer me coffee talk and a bunt cake. I've never accepted. I don't want to know you, people. If I know you, that means I have to like you, and that in turn means I have to consider you part of my space. I don't want you coming to my door crying about your latest fight with your boyfriend, screaming mad about how the hospital was so uncompassionate about the anal beads your 4-year-old stuffed up his nose, or eager to discuss the latest trends in lawn bowling. If that happened, you'd expect me to reciprocate.

Holy jesus fuck, no.

My passions, fears, desires, and rashes are to be shared only with those people whom I choose to accept into my space, and on whom I can shut the door, turn off the phone, and block my email to ensure they never, ever see me again. Ever. With an apartment neighbour, they are there with me all the fucking time, whether I like it or not. All they have to do is wander out of their door, down the hallway to my door and listen for my panicked breathing on the other side to know that I am, indeed, present in my space. Then they can just camp outside with a muffin and National Enquirer and wait until I simply can't help but go to the corner store to get toilet paper, said decision only being made after having paramedics dislodge my impacted body from my window frame.

The night before last, however, they invaded. All of my neighbours. All of them. There was nothing I could do to stop it. It was a flood, a wave, a fucking tsunami of neighbourly psyches and deep secrets just pouring into my space.

Literally.

I was in my bedroom typing away at the computer, writing extremely dirty and ever-so-exciting messages to my lover about shower sex when I suddenly had a craving for nuts.

Yes, I know - how Freudian.

As I wandered in a lusty haze down the hall towards the kitchen, I was rudely jarred from my sexual reverie when my left foot suddenly went *SPLOOSH*. I looked down. Water. No, not water. Radioactive sludge. What the--? All sex having evaporated from my mind, I rushed into the kitchen. The sinks. The two sinks. There was shit just pouring out of my sinks! Really! I swear! It sure in hell smelled like shit. This cataract of slime cascaded down the kitchen counter across the kitchen floor, assaulting my virginal nostrils (hey, I'm not that sexually adventurous) and making me gag.

Apparently, it seems, this building has a plumbing problem.

Every 3 or 4 years, the tenants in the ground floor suites are subject to have every drop of used, dirty formerly-water-but-no-longer waste products roil up from their kitchen sinks. I assume that whoever initially installed the plumbing didn't get things quite right, and over time silt and sludge travels down three floors and slowly bungs up the plumbing, until finally the bung has nowhere to go but up and out through my kitchen sinks.

I immediately grabbed a large bucket and a salad bowl and started scooping this monstrous creation out of my sinks, vainly attempting to stem the tide. As the bucket reached capacity, I would haul it down to the bathroom and dump the crud into my tub. In order to ensure I didn't also end up with a bathroom full of crap, at least crap not belonging to me, I made a point of trying to fish out as much solid shit from the liquid shit before doing so.

That's when I realized I had been invaded not only by dirty water, but by my neighbours themselves, in all their putrid magnificence.

There was dirty dishes water. I learned far, far too much about my neighbours' dietary habits. Can you actually eat rancid pork dipped in cranberry jelly without immediately dropping dead? There was dirty laundry water. Thanks - nothing fills me with joy more than knowing I've stepped in someone's pussy juices. There was water that must have been part of some secret voodoo ritual involving a dead chicken and some smelly candles. There were parts of things in this water that made me consider whether I should be calling the police as well as the plumber. There were bones. Lots of them. I'm not talking wee fragile hen bones or cod bones or bones of small rodents. No, no. These were finger bones. I swear. And I'm pretty sure there was part of a human skull floating near the surface as well. One of my neighbours has apparently murdered one of their children, boiled their body to reduce the fat, and proceeded to chop up their skeleton into bite-sized pieces and feed them into their sink.

I really didn't want to know this. Really really. I was quite content to leave it as an ominous, vaguely frightening blur in the corner of my imagination's deep recesses. I never actually wanted to confirm my imagination. I live with these people, for fuck's sake! They see me check my mail! They use the dryer right beside the one I'm using! Christ almighty, they even sit on the front stoop with me having a smoke! GAH! I am polluted, dirtied, unclean. I shall never walk the halls of my home again without shuddering when I hear western African dancesteps above me or the sound of a baby screaming. I can no longer block them out. They have soaked themselves into my pores, and even my perpetual cold sweat can't seem to get rid of them. I need exorcising. (Did Jane Fonda ever make one of those videos? I should rent it if so.) Dammit, they didn't even knock first. I will never drink another glass of water or take a shower in quite the same way again. Maybe I'll just let myself dehydrate into a muck-encrusted prune.

Anything, even slow death, is better than knowing my neighbours.


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Last 5 entries:
01.14.2007:Finally, a support group we can all get behind
01.09.2007:The City That Ever Reeks
01.08.2007:Waiter, there's a uterus in my soup
01.03.2007:Long Lost Mummy of Nefertiti Found in Smoog's Apartment
12.30.2006:New Year's resolutions we can actually keep



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