The local TV news, which consists of 18 minutes weather, 2 minutes news and 10 minutes commercials, has been telling us for months that practically every single day is setting another local weather record. In winter we had the warmest winter days ever. There have been lots of rainfall records along the way, including one just a couple of days ago. And now, finally, record heat days are occurring on a regular basis.
I think we’re setting a record on setting new records. Somebody check the records. This has got to be true.
Living in Portland means, of course, there is no air conditioning in our house circa 1950s. I think they hates them, they do. Maybe things were cooler in the 1950s so people didn’t think they were really needed? Bioswale floors, walls, ceilings and roofs constructed out of organic kale didn’t exist back then, did they?
Whatever the case, when the heat hits our house like an oven on broil, the windows, reluctantly, have to be placed in the “open” position. And that’s when the shit goes sideways.
It’s morning. It’s early. A neighbor stumbles out of bed and immediately staggers into their backyard. When the weather is nice, that’s where they live. They stay out there until 10pm or later. (4am if it’s a party night.)
Their backyard is a never-ending hive of activity. The entire family settles in for the duration. It’s where everything happens. But that’s not all. Each and every member of the family unit is tasked with the obligation of becoming living, breathing noise makers. A 747 taking off has nothing on these people. Hearing protection is required.
Yelling at the top of your lungs? No, not a fight. Just everyday conversation. Why speak when you can scream? PASS THE SUGAR!!!
Cell phones ringing?
A snarly, growling barking dog that you yell at every five seconds but never really do anything about? I don’t know which is worse. The barking? The snarling? The yelling? The fact that despite the yelling nothing ever changes?
Bumps. Bangs. Loud enough to make you jump. In the middle of the day or hours after you’ve gone to bed. The mole people never sleep.
My research indicates that people like this love parties. Really love parties. A normal day is a perfect day for a party. School night or work night? It does not matter. And holidays or a kid’s birthday? Forget about it. Game over. That’s an orgiastic explosion of party nirvana. A party is just like the rest of the day only (somehow) even louder and with more people. They’ll literally have these several nights in a row, many times a week. I don’t know how they do it. Seemingly none of them have jobs lounging around 24/7 in their backyards making noise as they are wont to do.
Gasoline-powered yard tools for hours on end? Houses are situated in such a way that there is always the sound of a lawn mower. When one house is done another one is just starting. I did get a brief moment of glee, however, as it sounded like they ran over a concrete block last night.
The only possible conclusion is that some people get off on being noise generators. I assume these are the same people who love fireworks a little too much and shoot guns in the air for eight hours on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. There is no evidence of conscious thought or consideration that other human beings might exist, beyond the “let’s fuck ’em over with some noise, hells yeah!” mentality.
With all of the windows open, my house becomes the functional equivalent of a tent. Crammed into postage-sized lots by a city that becomes sexually aroused at the thought of population density, the neighbors are literally a few feet away. They can be within 20 feet of my home office where I theoretically am supposed to accomplish something known as “work.” (How is they can hang in the backyard all day long, every single day? Nothing better to do, apparently.)
The pillows where my wife and I lay our little heads to sleep are 20 feet from another neighbor’s backyard where they recently installed a tree swing and make me long for the peace and quiet of a nuclear device. They make the Jerry Springer show seem pretentious and overly civilized.
Watching TV with the wife we heard voices. “Is someone in our backyard?” my wife asked. Nope. That’s just the neighbors. They literally sound like they are in the next room.
Once, long ago, in another house in another time, I’d go in my backyard and smell the neighbor’s cigarettes wafting from their property to mine. That was a special kind of despair. It’s bad enough there’s no safe place in public, but to have the sanctity of your own home violated this way? Doesn’t freedom smell good? Especially when someone else’s freedom is trumping my right to exist?
These neighbors have taken it to the next level. Now, while my eardrums throb, their secondhand smoke enters my very home. It’s no longer confined to the outdoors. Apparently I live downwind of offspring of the Marlboro Man. And so I find myself in my home office, breathing their toxic cloud of death, which these days is even outlawed in bars. But not my home, baby. Not by a long shot.
If that isn’t a feeling of despair I don’t know what is.
I’ve thought about fighting back, but how? Perhaps something passive-aggressive like a moat of cow shit along the property line? Fight smell with smell? I considered that, but it won’t work. The air acoustics are such that I’d be the only one to suffer due to blowback.
Alas, I see no way out. Summer means months of sweating while being tortured. I’ll be counting the days until the temperatures drop and I can close the windows in this house and create a symbolic barrier (and smoke blocker) for a few months of sweat, fresh indoor only air and heavenly bliss. I long for the happiness of winter. A long, dark winter bereft of warmth. Only then can I be happy.