To the Guys In the Garden Apt.: I Think I Hate You

Dear Neighbors,

Everyone has a right to a Saturday night, but—especially as summer approaches—please try to remember that you live on a very residential block, and when you start blaring the Killers, U2 and Kanye West on a constant loop from 2 p.m. to 5 a.m., it can make your neighbors want to throw things at you. And I have. Eggs, cream, cheap whiskey, sticks of gum, clumps of cat litter. Who knew a slotted scooper made such an excellent catapult? No pun intended. I’ve never hit anyone, of course. I usually wait until the party has adjourned inside and you’ve left the Counting Crows whining outside for my 6 a.m. listening enjoyment.

When you survey the damage in the noon-light of day, do you collapse into a fluorescent lawn chair and say, “Dude, things really flew off the hizzandle last night— someone brought cat litter!” I wish you would only look up. See that window framed in grape vines? It’s raining obscure food items, gentlemen, and I am the rainmaker.

The question these days is: Who owns Saturday night? More often than not, I tend to stay in on Saturday nights. I feel pretty good about this, having made enough of an inebriated buffoon out of myself on, say, Wednesday. For years now it’s been said: “Saturdays are for amateurs.” Sometimes I even try to get work done on Saturdays—so, boys, unless you intend on cutting me a check for a couple grand for every night I can’t hear myself think, please keep it down past 11 p.m. Yes, you’re that loud. Loud enough that I always regret, in the cold silence of Sunday, that I forgot to buy better earplugs. Loud enough that even huddled against one wall, I can’t escape the noise.

You see, I’m not even your neighbor, technically. We don’t have the same set of mailboxes. I live in the brownstone next-door, facing the back just like you. And I have my own crazy noisemakers to deal with: the fighting couple, the fighting couple’s make-up sex, the late-night redecorators. If it was traffic or construction or people on the street, I would be able to sleep through this madness. Those are the noises we all sign up for living in Manhattan, and I find them strangely soothing. But there is something rural about the noise you make. At first I wondered if I was being a noise snob. If you replaced Coldplay with Arcade Fire, Eminem with Ghostface Killah and Bud Light with Stella, would I be equally as annoyed?

I thought long and hard about this and decided: yes. Irritation knows no genre.

Last night, as I lay awake, my organs being vibrated by your speakers, I found myself imagining what the e-mail invitations for your gatherings look like. In my head, your subject line reads: “It’s that time of year again!” Your greeting: “Yo, peeps.” Your instructions: “We have three kegs, but it’s bring your own ice luge.” Your sign-off: “Feel free to bring friends, especially of the female persuasion. Peace out—and let the battle for the Beer Pong Champion of ’06 commence!”

Who doesn’t like an old-fashioned game of beer pong? I know I do. Getting that white ball in the last cup when you’re already piss-drunk makes you feel like you’ve mastered physics and phys ed all at once. But here’s the problem: The courtyard walls push sound upward, giving me and the rest of your neighbors the unique pleasure of being able to hear your party better than you can. It’s like being in a Bang and Olufsen store, except not fun. Sometimes you just don’t want to feel the music. This is the West Side, not Murray Hill, for Christ sakes—show some respect for yourself.

Unfortunately, the music is only half the battle. By some miraculously cruel feat of sound waves, I can hear not only the blaring bass of “Gangsta’s Paradise” but that ping-pong, pong-ping all night. Oh, and every conversation you have. Trevor, you and Mike were playing doubles with Ashley and Becca, and when you guys went in to get the Jager shots, Becca told Ashley that she’s been cheating on you for two months. With Mike. Do with this information what you will, but she seems pretty torn up about the whole thing, especially since Mike gave her herpes. If it was indeed him. Apparently there have been others. Anyway, Trevor, that’s about when you heard “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” screamed “Oh, hells yes!” and turned it up. So that’s all I got.

What’s funny about all this is that we’ve had this conversation before. You were probably too drunk to remember it. It was when you moved in about a year ago. On some idle Tuesday, you had a massive party and I had the flu. Around 2 a.m., I put on my winter coat and a pair of flip-flops and went out into the street. I followed the crowds funneling into your apartment like an Abercrombie clown car and asked to speak with whomever lived there. Trevor, that’s when you and I first met. Genial fellow, you slung your arm around me and offered me a beer. I coughed on you, said thanks but no thanks, and explained my predicament.

“I hate to be the asshole,” I sniffled.

“How ’bout this?” you offered, you ex-international-relations major you: “Party’s winding down …. ”

Just then, a man wearing only a Red Sox cap on one head and a powdered doughnut on the other came rushing past us.

“How about if it’s not dead by 6 a.m., you come back here and we’ll turn it down?”

“Listen to me”—I put my fists of used tissues on your shoulders—“I don’t even live in your building. That’s how loud you guys are.”

You were befuddled by this information and, instead of taking it as a sign of just how badly you were disturbing the peace, you said, “Oh, then what’s the problem?”

Oh, Trevor, what choice did I have? For some reason, at this particular party you had a basket of gold boxes containing chocolate outside your door. Without thinking, I swiped the basket and marched out. I flip-flopped up to the 72nd Street subway station and gave it to a homeless person. I saved a fistful of chocolates for myself, of course. I had intended to eat them, but I think it’s safe to say guilt comes more naturally to me than it does to you. Thus, I decided to recycle my spoils by opening my window once more. I threw them one by one into the abandoned plastic cups of beer on the ping-pong table. I think I may have actually gotten a few in. It thrilled me.

With that, guys in the garden apartment, let the battle for the Beer Pong Champion of ’06 commence! I’m off to buy milk and let it sour in my fridge.

Peace out,

Your Neighbor