My neighbors. Let me tell you about them.
Firstly, I am happy to report that Horse Girl and her ghetto boyfriend appear to be moving out FOREVER. What? I never told you about Horse Girl and her ghetto boyfriend?
Well. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THEM.
But first! I need to take a moment to explain a little something about where I live. See, here in downtown Santa Barbara there was a period of time when there seemingly were no zoning laws to speak of. I mean, either that or the zoning law maker guy was constantly drunk and easily bribed. Large, once-stately lots were divided and subdivided again. New buildings sprang up inches away from old buildings, and rickety add-ons were attached at any corner. The interior of each block became a tangled maze of curious living spaces.
Which probably helps explain why, four blocks up my street, there is a log cabin in the front yard of one house. As in, someone can stand on the porch of the main house and reach out and touch the log cabin. That people live in. There are people living in the log cabin. Passersby on the sidewalk can actually reach out and touch the cabin, too, that’s how close it is to the street. Which is just entirely too much touching, if you ask me and my country’s Puritan forebears.
Anyway. Here is a special artist’s rendering of my particular corner of the maze, marked with key locations:
The other thing about these places? They’re old. The two main houses on either side of us were built in the 1800s. Ours was built in 1911. None of the lot has any insulation in the walls. It’s just wood framing with some plaster slapped over the top. Which really sucks on those occasional winter nights when the temperature drops into the 20s or 30s. But it sucks every other night of the year, too, because we can hear everything that’s going on in all the other units. Music. Television shows. Conversations. Sneezing. Silverware sorting. Light petting. Hair brushing. Pieces of lint landing on carpeting.
It’s a constant auditory assault.
And so even though there’s a little yard and a fence separating us from good ol’ Horsey — so named for her distinctive, braying laugh — she and her friends may as well have been living inside our house all this time. Because honestly, it sounds just like they do.
The trouble first arrived about a year ago, in the form of, well, noise. Party noise. Music. Shouting. Screaming. More music. BEER PONG. Which fed into the shouting. The beer pong, that is. YES, INDEED IT DID. WHAT? THAT’S RIGHT.
They usually got started around 10:30 p.m. which, coincidentally, was just about the time I was winding down for bed. They weren’t so bad at first, I suppose. Most of the partying seemed to be confined to Thursday through Saturday. Yeah. Okay. I can get that crazy party kids want to party. I may not enjoy it, but I get it. I could deal.
But then, early this year, things just started sliding completely off the rails.
I remember the first really egregious incident came on a Tuesday evening. They got started around 8:30 p.m., which was incredibly early for them. At 10:30, our neighbor in the upstairs add-on in the house to the left of ours leaned out his window to ask them to turn it down. I went out on the porch to watch this unfold. Horsey was standing on a chair in her yard so that she could see over the fence, and she and my other neighbor did not seem to be reaching any kind of agreement on anything. Can you please turn it down, I have to get up early for work tomorrow, he said. She didn’t want to turn it down, she said. Okay, then can you please shut your doors so it’s not as loud? She didn’t want to shut the doors, she said. She then shouted something nonsensical like “It’s not even curfew yet!” and then turned her dull gaze on me. “What the [bad word] do you think you’re looking at?” she inquired.
This would be the first night we called the police on them.
Similar nights followed, all bleeding into each other. The constant weekday beer pong sessions. The constant music-blaring (Horsey’s favorite song was Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow“). The idiotic shouting (I can’t tell you how many times I wished I could record them and then play it back at 7:00 a.m. the next morning at top volume on speakers hidden inside their house). There was the long, loud, confusing week some of her boyfriend’s friends appeared to stay at their house. I had to assume one of them was from Cuba, based on his general vitriol towards the former Cuban president: “FUCK CASTRO! MI FAMILIA! Yo, roll me another joint, bro! TAKE MY PICTURE! YO! FUCK CASTRO! Man, you’re my BROTHER, dog, we are all LIKE BROTHERS. Mi familia all up in this shit. YO, SOMEONE TAKE MY PICTURE. AAAAAAAHHH!”
Can I tell you how crazy I went over the first part of this year? I was bad. It got to the point where anytime I heard the grating sound of Horse Girl’s voice floating across the yard I’d stiffen like a board. My stomach would drop into my socks, and my heart raced. I would get so angry that I couldn’t sleep. Sometimes I got so stressed I cried. I had the phone number to report noise violations stored in my phone.
And I used it. A lot.
And I dreamed about moving out. A lot.
Then, sometime in the late summer, Horsey and her boyfriend had a big fight. I could hear them in their parking lot, by the storage units. She was shouting and crying. It was something about how could he [bad word] around on her like that, and she never even [bad word] gave him [bad word] about him [bad word] calling his [bad word] baby mama on the phone all the [bad word] time, and was he just gonna [bad word] walk away? From my bathroom window, I could see their heads over the top of the back fence. And he indeed walked away, my friends. He did.
After that it was quiet for a week. It was the best week of my life.
The week after that I started hearing different people in that house. Sometimes they spoke another language — was it Danish? I couldn’t quite tell. Sometimes they had friends over and partied, but they were different. They kept the music low, and they always left around 10:00 to head to the bar. I was never awakened in the middle of the night by drunken shouting.
I wanted to kiss these people on the mouth.
Two months of bliss went by. I stopped checking housing rental ads.
I started hearing Horsey’s familiar whinny again. Here and there. And she had her boyfriend with her again. Did they patch things up? Were they moving back into their old place? Were the good people moving out? Had they been subletting? Where had they gone? WHAT WAS HAPPENING? There was an epic soap opera unfolding on the other side of my fence, and there I was leaning out of the bathroom window, straining to see or hear evidence of any new plot development.
Well, I think — I think, I think — the series is finally coming to a conclusive end. Yesterday Horsey and her special friend showed up with a U-Haul truck and began packing it up. And they’re still packing today. As of the moment I type this, I can see the boyfriend’s baseball cap skimming the fence as he carries boxes and furniture out. I think it’s happening for real. They are moving out for good, you guys. Forever and ever. They’re taking their stuff with them, and they’re never coming back.
I am so happy I want to kiss ALL OF YOU on the mouth. Come here a minute. Come here. Hang on. Stop squirming.
This means that we’re left with only these folks as our other “noisy” neighbors:
- Techno guy, whose repetitive bass beats makes me feel like I should be in a club, except I am lying on the couch in my pajamas watching Gene Simmons Family Jewels. But he usually turns it down by 11:00, so. I can’t really complain.
- Old dude, who insists on blaring his classic rock tunes from his car every time he goes up and down the driveway.
- The other beer pong people, who usually play in the house on their kitchen table, and who all actually have real jobs and so they always knock off by around 10:00 p.m.
- Motorcycle man, who likes to start his motorcycle up and rev the engine for no apparent reason.
- The children of Motorcycle man, who only get dangerous when they have their cousins over and start chasing each other around the yard screaming as if they’re all being murdered.
- The weird kid who, when he is not already busy wearing a pink polo shirt and riding a moped, apparently fills his time by inviting his friends over to take drugs. Last Friday they all moshed about in his living room, wrestling and flapping their arms and squawking like birds. “Your computer is a vagina!” one of them yelped. Then they all took off running full speed down the street and I didn’t see them for the rest of the weekend. Which was kind of nice, when you think about it.
- Loud sex neighbors, which is mostly funny and gets a little awkward only when we have company over. I can’t help but notice this couple really likes spanking.
Not bad, right? I’ll take these people any day over Horsey and her pals. Hell, I’d pay to keep them here, so that no one noisier has the opportunity to move in.
What about you? I know you have bad neighbor stories. I shamelessly beg you to share, share!