For as long as I've lived in the noisiest city in America, I've had the same downstairs neighbor—Archie the architect. Archie has trapezoidal wraparound eyeglasses, lots of black cashmere turtlenecks, and an aloofness that makes you think he's been TiVoed and is being played back on a 2-minute delay. Whether he was always daydreaming of the limitless functionality of AutoCAD, or just baked off his ass, he was the ideal person to have below decks.
When Robert discovered velocity, we wondered whether Archie was PO'd about the extra thumping. But when we mentioned this to him in the hallway, he smiled that enigmatic smile and assured us he never heard anything. "Dude, I wouldn't have even known you had a kid up there." After which he promptly returned to the movie playing in his head.
Since then, Archie has gotten a live-in girlfriend, someone who weighs about 80 pounds and spends a lot of energy trying to look like she doesn't spend a lot of energy on her look. In view of recent events, she may have realigned his temporal phase and/or gotten him off weed.
For several nights last week, at around 10 o'clock, we heard hammering and drilling coming from right below our bed. When I finally went downstairs to look into it, I found out Archie was installing wall shelves. At 10pm. My wife was trying to pass out after a long day of debilitating sinusitis, so I asked him (politely, I thought) how much longer he was planning to use power tools four feet from her head. "Another 15 minutes," came the reply. And then he asked me (politely, he thought), "By the way: We hear Robert all the time. Especially in the morning. Can't you get him to stop running around?"
"Ha," I said, momentarily setting aside his feeble attempt to wrest the moral high ground. "Can you stop the birds from singing? Or tell the pope to lay off the gay-bashing? No, sir. For we are who we are, and we must be true to our essence. Unfortunately, Robert is almost three, which means his essence right now is (a) running like a rhino and (b) not responding well to reasoned arguments. Perhaps you and that un-fashionista chippie of yours will come to understand this one day, if you ever decide to bless the world with your progeny."
OK, I said that in my head. The last thing I need right now is to start a war with a guy whose stereo has 2 billion gigawatts per channel. Besides, I feel a little bad for him. I've lived with noisy neighbors before, and we're already doing our best to keep the racket at a minimum. If he thinks it's loud now, just wait until number two comes along. If I were he, I'd start gluing egg cartons to the ceiling.