I am currently living in one of those San Diego urban neighborhoods with block after block of small two-story apartment buildings crammed together side by side, with narrow alley-like courtyards in between. I'm guessing the distance between my bedroom window and that of my nearest neighbor the next building over is, what? 20 feet? I'm lousy at estimating distance. All I know is that sometimes it sounds like the folks in the next building--plus anyone in the courtyard in between--is practically in my bedroom with me. This is not as unmanageble as it sounds--when I put my headphones on and dive into my computer-geekery, World War III could start next to me and I wouldn't notice. But it does lead to some humorous moments as folks go on with their lives out there at the top of their lungs, blithely oblivious to the fact that they've got an audience.
This past few days, the show on offer has been a bunch of workmen doing renovations on a couple of units in my building. I swear I want to run a tape recorder on them and use their dialog as the soundtrack/script for an animated feature. Between their continual ranking on each other over everything from workstyle to taste in beer, and their frequent colorful expletives as various things go crash-boom, it's like a David Mamet play. I wonder if their apartment rehabs will even be liveable once they finish.
I have been semi-unwilling eavesdropper on noisy football-watching parties; long-winded low-content political arguments; a few energetic love-making sessions; and god only knows what-all else. I think my favorite eavesdropping, though, has been olfactory rather than auditory: one of my neighbors apparently gets home from work on a regular basis at 3:00am, at which hour they begin cooking some kind of substantial dinner. And to judge from the mouth-watering aromas of sizzling meats and spices that wake me out of a sound sleep, they're pretty damn good cooks. I'm still trying to figure out how to get a message to them that I wouldn't mind an invitation to join them.