Friday, March 9

The thing about single guys

Since I moved out of my parents’ house some 9 years ago, I have always lived somewhere with a shared wall or ceiling/floor. Some of these living arrangements have been better than others, of course. Most have been all right.

Except when I’ve shared the wall with (a) single guy(s).

Not that it’s the guys’ fault, so much as the places with crappy walls have happened to be places where single guys also live. (Maybe there’s a correlation there.) And, of course, the shared wall has to be in the master bedroom.

But here’s the thing about sharing a paper-thin wall with a single guy.

I think it’s safe to say that single guys live a very different lifestyle than does a married couple with a small child.

In South Texas, we shared the wall with Edgar, a border patrol agent. He was a nice, clean-cut, polite guy who kept to himself. But border patrol agents work wacky hours, and I can only imagine that cranking up the music helps them unwind after a busy day’s (or night’s) work. The only redeeming factor to Edgar’s music habits was that we had similar taste. He liked Coldplay; I like Coldplay. And judging by how often we heard Coldplay coming through the wall, Edgar liked Coldplay a lot. So do I, but not so much at 10:30 p.m. when I would rather be sleeping.

For the first several months we just thought that Edgar liked his music really, really loud. But that’s the problem with sharing a wall with a single guy—he’s single. And single, sane people don’t talk much when they’re alone, which makes it hard to gauge just how thin your wall is. So when Edgar started watching a lot of sports (I think?), and yelling at his TV, and I could hear every single word, I realized it wasn’t his music; it was our wall.

Then I overheard some of his phone conversations.

And then I died.

Because I am not a quiet person. And this is our master bedroom and bathroom, I remind you. Where I happened to spend a lot of time talking with my husband. Probably quite loudly. Suffice it to say my I tried to drop my pitch after that, and I was conscious that every thing I said might possibly be overheard.

Like the time I went into labor at midnight and did a lot of loud moaning—I felt very self-conscious. Hopefully Edgar was working that night.

We moved back to San Antonio and shared a wall again—this time with another couple. I can safely say that this duplex was built to much higher standards, since we never, EVER heard that couple through the wall. And believe me, I would’ve known, because there were many times when I did hear the wife blow her top and scream at her husband in a fit of uncontrolled hysteria while they were outside on their back porch. I doubt she reserved these explosions only for their backyard tête-à-têtes, so I was glad for a nice, thick, well-insulated wall.

Alas, a nice, thick, well-insulated wall was not to be for our current residence.

And, naturally, we share our duplex with single guys of a worldly nature, who definitely do not have the same lifestyle as a married couple with a small child and the schedule of a medical resident.

And of course the shared wall (one of them) is, again, in the master bedroom.

Still, it’s hard to gauge just how bad the wall is. Because, remember, people who don’t share a room don’t talk that much, and for a while, when you hear and feel the bass thumping through the wall (our new neighbor, unfortunately, does not share my music taste), you think it’s probably just loud music that vibrates past the threshold of your home.

Then you hear two of the roommates talking to each other, and you realize your naïveté.

Then one afternoon you hear a female having an emotional breakdown in the bathroom (oh yes, we share that wall too).

Then you are awakened in the night by suspicious-sounding bed-bouncing type noises, and you are extremely glad you have your bed on the opposite wall.

Then you are awakened by what must have been a dance party of some kind, with lots of jumping and female laughter. At midnight.

It didn’t take long for earplugs to become standard for me at night. And of course I wonder what our neighbor can hear from us. Me laughing, definitely. Maren crying, certainly. Maren squealing in the bathtub, absolutely. Me yelling “Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaark!” in the shower when the shaving gel runs out, bet your life on it. But what else? What is a safe pitch at which to converse? It’s an obnoxious question to have in the back of your mind every time you open your mouth in the “privacy” of your own bedroom.

We haven’t said anything about it to the guys next door. It’s hard to know just how unreasonable their volume choices are when you live somewhere that was built decades ago and is so shoddily put together (don't get me started) that I can only assume it was skipped over by a bribed building inspector. AND because I figure that in a few weeks when I’m bunking with a newborn that will be payback enough for a while.

I’m just looking forward to the day when I don't share a wall with any neighbors, let alone a crappy wall shared with single guys.