Noisy neighbors can make your life a living hell. I used to live next door to a jerk who not only played his stereo astoundingly loud all night, but would actually turn it up louder after you banged on his door and asked that the volume be turned down. (This is the same guy who shot a gun through our wall as described in the writeup to University Townhouse Apartments.) After a while, you get to the point where you don't even bother asking them to turn it down, you just call the police.

I have four species of noisy neighbor within earshot. The pair behind me are bass heads, they have monster speakers, and a penchant for gangsta rap and R&B. Retaliation in kind is pretty effective against these two. The Quake 2 soundtrack is good for this, lots of drums and bass and no vocals.

The guys next door are noisy drunks. Ah, the wonders of blenders, vomiting, argument and drunken sing-alongs.

Someone upstairs is a noisy nymphomaniac. Usually she quiets down when the aforementioned drunks yell "STOP FUCKING".

The loudest neighbor award, however, has to go to Union Pacific Railroad. The main-line tracks are about 100 yards from my dorm room, and the sound of four 3000 horsepower diesel engines, 26,000 tons of coal, and an air horn traveling at 60mph can make the walls shake.

My own most memorable experience with noisy neighbors dated, not surprisingly, back to my days at UIUC. I was living in a shared house, which normally had about half a dozen other guys but on this particular weekend had only two. That's because this was graduation weekend, and I had already graduated a semester previous. (Just because one is no longer a student doesn't mean one is well-off enough to afford one's own apartment yet.)

Graduation had taken place Saturday, and this was Sunday night following. Sometime after midnight the party at the neighbor's began. Which was fine; I mean, you have to have graduation parties. But this one woke me up, along with the two other sleepers in my house, at three a.m. and wouldn't let up. One of my housemates, the one who actually owned the place, had gone over to talk to someone about turning down the volume and moving people indoors. That had been half an hour ago.

Now, by three o'clock in the morning and after an hour of continuously interrupted sleep, I get pretty irritable. Finally I'd decided enough was enough, and I did the most courteous thing I could think of that would allow me to get back to sleep.

I put on a pair of pants and a shirt. I walked downstairs and next door. I walked up the porch, found the stereo speaker, looked for the wires leading into the back of them, and yanked them out.

The music didn't stop. I went just inside the front door, found the other speaker, and yanked its wires out, too.

Ahhh, peace and quiet at last. The one advantage to having a great big party going on next door is that you can wander in and out and no one will notice you, no matter what you're wearing.

Less than two minutes later, the local constabulary pulled up and toned down the party their own, more professional way. I was vaguely glad I wasn't over there at the moment they arrived, but right then I didn't think about it too much. I curled up in bed and smiled, and went right to sleep.

You sit up, unsure of what woke you in the still darkness. Then you hear it: It's the neighbours. Kind of drunk, loud as always, returning from the pub, or a club, or a party, or a Satanist orgy, or whatever they get up to on a quiet Tuesday night.

They stumble in at 2 in the morning, squeaking the front gate, giggling as they run into walls and rebound into each other.

A five-minute conversation about the need to put a new light globe in the front porch light as they try to fit the key into the lock. They start in hushed whispers but rise to a crescendo as they discuss whether a 75 or 100 watt bulb would be better.

After an inordinate amount of time (how long does it take to unlock a door?), co-ordination, the key and lock all co-incide and they enter their house/ flat/ dorm amid laughter and the dropping of a shoe. The door is slammed. Of course.

Then the music starts. You roll over and pull the pillow over your head, knowing it's not going to block a decibel of their new Limp Bizkit/ old Elton John/ crappy AC/DC CDs they need to play really loudly right now. Amid the sounds of the music and late night tv infomercials their conversation rises and falls with excitement as alcohol and drugs are passed around. You curse the builders of your flimsy neighbourhood, as you know the walls should be soundproof but seem to built of thinly disguised rice paper.

A half hour, an hour, what seems to be a week passes... blah blah blah... laughing and jumping sounds continue (do I sound like that when I dance? you wonder blearily)... then... the shower starts.

The old pipes aren't able to cope with the amount of water the neighbours are trying to force through the the ancient shower head, and clank and thump in protest of their early morning use. Regardless, the neighbours stay in for a long time- (how long should I shower for? Am I a dirty person because I don't shower for that long? you think, delirium setting in). You want the noise to shut up, to just to go in and tell your neighbours that some people have to sleep/ work/ watch tv early in the morning, but you know you'll sound like a cranky old man if you do, so it's better to sit back and stew in your own juices and turn over every thirty seconds in a vague attempt to get back to sleep.

The shower has stopped! Maybe they'll pass out silently now! You can sleep!

Then the sex starts!

Oh, and it's not just ordinary bed-head banging against the wall sex. At this stage, you'd be begging for that kind of sex. No, the neighbours have frantic porn-style sex, loud and moaning, screaming. Now you're awake, embarrassed and mildly curious. How will you be able to maintain your friendly greetings in the hallway? "Hey, I hear you can have multiple orgasms... and that you can give them"- mmm, nice one.

It's over. It's quiet. You should be relieved but you're too exhausted and pissed off. You've only got a few hours to go until the alarm rings and you have to get out of bed. Damn neighbours with a social life; who do they think they are, anyway?

The next night you and your partner come home from dinner and the pub late; you're a bit drunk and slide down the wall next to the door as your partner drops everything out of their wallet in search for the key. You're laughing, and you know you should be quiet but it's too hard when everything is just so funny .

You go inside, you sing, you dance, you watch crappy tv, and then go to bed, still giggling and crashing into the walls until you're safely in bed.

You can only hope you'll get sex, and that it will be half as good as the neighbours sounded.

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