Rule breaker

A few months ago, Scott and I had a particularly spirited fight, the kind where you start out politely requesting that your partner empty out the vacuum canister after each use and you end up perched on top of a bookcase, hurling hardcovers and braying. (No? Just me?) Such arguments have become increasingly rare in our marriage, as we have mellowed with age (read: are tired and broken); besides, we would rather not traumatize our child more than is completely necessary.

But the kid was at school, some "issues" needed to be "discussed," and before we knew it we were letting things fly out of our mouths. Loudly. Angry, rude things!

The regret after such a fight is amplified when you live in an apartment building, because on top of wondering how the hell that happened and feeling like an idiot, you worry that your neighbors HEARD you being an idiot. In Scott's case, he knew they did. Because just as he yelled something particularly unfortunate at me, his beloved, our neighbors were in the hallway, leaving for work.

Now, this was just a luck of the draw--a second before that I was shouting stuff that was equally terrible--but they heard him, therefore he is a monster. Scott was mortified, because actually he is a Nice Guy who is loved by everyone. He couldn't stand it. So one day, in the hallway, he apologized to them. To the guy, specifically. I heard them talking in the hallway, all "dude, you know how it is," and "totally, bro," and then they probably high-fived or kissed or something. And I was upstairs, quietly dying.

You never do this. This is the implicit understanding in all tenant/tenant relationships: barring something worrisome or catastrophic, you don't acknowledge the private noises that are ensuing in the neighbor's apartment.  (Emphasis on private. Television? Not private. Party? Public. Super sexy moans? Privateprivateprivate.) You must also pretend that you haven't been heard. It's in the lease! (It's not in the lease. It should be in the lease.) This is how you maintain your sanity and also your personal boundaries. If you discuss each other's personal goings-on, pretty soon you're going to start confiding in each other and then you're going to have a building-friend, which is the worst kind of friend because what if you realize you're not that crazy about him after all? Then where do you go? Where, SCOTT?

But no, he had to be the good guy. And where does it end? Next he's going to start leaving memos in the hallway.

"Dear neighbors: As you undoubtedly know by now, sound travels from bathroom to bathroom. I realize now that I should not have eaten that week-old burrito. My apologies. In case you're wondering, God did not answer my cries."

"Dear friends downstairs: my wife just returned from a week-long trip, which is why you heard all that banging coming from the room above your bedroom, which happens to be our bedroom. The noise you heard was marital intercourse. I thought it best to get this out in the open, as we are adults. p.s. you'll hear more noise over the weekend, when our son is at a sleepover. Do not be alarmed."

"Yo, guys: just so you know, Alice is not clinically depressed. She's just having a rough premenstrual time and she was watching Youtube videos of soldiers coming home and reuniting with their dogs. I thought I should explain all the wailing. I told her to can it because you guys don't need to worry even more but she just threw things at me. Women! Did you notice how I didn't curse that time?"

By the way, now that he's opened up to our neighbors they're perfectly friendly to him, and they treat ME strangely. Scott insists it's in my imagination, but I can see it in their eyes. They're wondering what kind of a person would marry a lunatic who overshares with his neighbors. I'm going to tell them all about it in my next memo.