Sound fences make sound neighbours

Morning, well it’s all downhill from here till new years. Just a couple more Sunday Times columns to go, and here’s one of them. Ever heard your neighbour having loud sex? That’s awkward. 


It was so late it was early when I was woken by strange noises the other night. It sounded like two people were being mauled by a wild boar, or a couple of bears at the very least. Which is unlikely since I live in the city.

I’ve just moved into a new neighborhood, so there are lots of unfamiliar things that go bump in the night to get used to. I followed the sound, clutching a pair of tweezers, I’m not sure how I was planning to protect myself from a pack of raging bears with a pair of those, but they were the first pointy thing I laid my hands on. I’ve seen women who look like they’ve been plucked to death before, so it could work. I followed the noises, which led me outside, where the only logical conclusion I could come to was that it was just my neighbours having sex. Very hot, loud, shouty animal sex.

I thought people only made noises like that if they were having sex in a soap opera, or being murdered, in a soap opera.

Come on, do people really shout like that for real while they’re getting it on?
If so, maybe they know something the rest of us don’t. Because I’ve had good sex before, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt the need to go to full def-con one and break my vocal chords while doing it.

This is how I imagine it happens – the first time they did it, she wanted to let him know what a good time she was having, so she gave a little shout out. Not wanting her to feel like he wasn’t having a good time too, he also shouted out.

But the problem with that is that if there’s shouting the first time you do it, you can hardly go gently into that good night the next time, and the time after that, lest it indicate that this time wasn’t as good as the last time. So in a wild case of one upmanship, the couple are then both forced to get louder and louder every time, until they break the sound barrier, their ear drums, or each other, whichever comes first.

Fortunately this story has a happy ending, or rather two. First he reached a shouty conclusion, and she followed shortly thereafter. Phew. Good thing too, it was late, everyone in the neighbourhood was spent.

This whole decibel debacle reminded me of a status update a work colleague posted on her Facebook wall about a year ago. She lived in a flat, and the post was about how she could hear her neighbor above her farting in the bathtub. It horrified me, and has stuck in my mind more than any scary movie I’ve ever seen.

Most of us live in such close quarters, we’re practically living in each other’s pockets and it’s not just the less well off who live like this. A close girlfriend lives in quite a high-end block and has some very fancy pantsy neighbours. Mostly editors and wealthy investors, CEOs and CFO’s and so on. On bumping into the couple who live above them, they had a very polite conversation. My friend said, we hope we don’t make too much noise down here and disturb you up there? Oh no the neighbor-lady said, we never hear a thing. We also hope we don’t ever disturb you down there, from up here. No, no, not at all, my friend said.

Later, my friend and her husband lay in bed listening to the man upstairs clearing his throat. Oh crapsticks, she said to her husband, if we can hear them….

Do you think that people who do it louder are like blondes and they have more fun?
Or are some of them just shouting because the remote control got lost under the cushions and it’s poking them in the butt while they’re shagging?



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