Eavesdropping: one of the many joys of city living

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Our condo faces onto a courtyard, and when the windows are open there’s definitely a little Melrose Place action that happens. We hear neighbors coming and going, having sex, spanking each other, etc. It’s always entertaining.

We can also hear the callbox at the front gate. Here’s one recent example that Dre and I heard, as we sat on the couch staring each other silently with wide eyes that said, “Don’t start laughing! They’ll hear you!”

Male resident’s voice over callbox: Hello?
Male guest at gate [coyly]: Are you decent?
Resident: …Uh, who is this?
Guest: OH MY GOD I totally dialed the wrong apartment!
Resident: Uh, ok.

Different male resident’s voice over callbox: …There you are!
Guest [uses exact same line!]: Are you decent?
[sound of gate being unlocked]

So, are YOU decent? Tell me the most awesome things you’ve overheard from your neighbors. NOTE: I said MOST AWESOME. This is NOT an invitation to bitch about your neighbors.

Comments on Eavesdropping: one of the many joys of city living

  1. This reminds me of a phone conversation that took place next door to my dorm room in college – the guy was yelling and swearing and generally foul-tempered, then said something along the lines of, “And I’m sick of this, Mom!” And that’s when we tried to contain our laughter.

  2. We live next door to a conservative christian college… we find beer, drugs, condoms, you name it whatever they have been told not to do we find it in our woods… I have put a smoking area in a clearing so they won’t accidently burn our house down with a wild fire…
    We hear it all… fights, drama,

  3. When I was at uni and therefore lived in a student town I was often woken up in the middle of the night by people going home, going out, getting lost or generally pissing about, but one occurance was particularly memorable:

    It started off normally enough. Male voice, female voice, lots of screaming, some tears, there may or may not have been objects thrown. Then there was the sound of a window opening and a voice saying “Hey! She’s right. You’re not listening to her. But he’s right too, you’re being overly jugemental and paranoid. You’re both drunk and need to go home and get some sleep. Now please PISS OFF!”

    Morale of the story? Private conversations are only as private as you make them!

    • I’ve lived in a noisy college town for so long that I barely notice my neighbors or the loud pedestrians any more! Now I’m inspired to start listening for the entertainment value… 🙂

  4. My college roommates and I were having a quiet Friday night when we heard a loud BANG. More sporadic BANGing and THUDing followed, until curiosity and a sense of self-preservation forced me to investigate. What did I find? Our drunken neighbors were on the porch with a closet door stretched across two upturned trash cans. They appeared to be playing a drinking game that involved hitting the makeshift table with a hammer. Over the next few hours we witnessed them swordfighting with scrap metal and playing with fire extinguishers… The following morning’s hungover catty arguments about who had to clean up were equally entertaining.

  5. In our last apartment we heard our maintenance man (lived above us) enjoying his own company (ahem) while watching porn, him singing along to TV show theme songs (George, George, George of the Jungle…), we heard him screaming “I’M BORED! I’M BORED!”, getting in a fist fight with his friend, and then the coup de grace: his door being kicked in by the police who then threw him on the ground demanding to know where his friend was, asking if he had any drugs, and saying something about child support. We then watched through out viewfinder as the police dragged him away. Memories…

  6. Also, at one point I lived right downtown Toronto at a major intersection with a couple of roomies.

    We were walking home from class fairly late one night, when this really nervous looking guy who was tearing up a styrofoam cup into little pieces, came up to my roommate and I and asked where in Toronto the hookers were.

    Not our neighbour per say…but still sooo awkward and hilarious.

    • Haha kind-of-similar experience:

      I was the last one working in the touristy general store in this small town in Norther Michigan and closing up for the evening, when two young men (about my age at the time) came in and acted kinda weird. Finally, one of them managed to ask me where they could “have fun” in town, and finally asked where they could find “Mary Janes”. Me being totally naive about such things, I pointed them to our candy counter where we carry the Mary Jane candies….

  7. In my last apt our upstairs neighbor often had one of two different “intimate” visitors. The one visitor was male & we only heard them when they where going at it & it was always late at night so we would just go back to sleep. We dubbed him “nice & quiet dude”. The other, more frequent visitor was female, and always wore high heels & spoke loudly, especially during more a’hem, intimate moments. The funny thing was that we ALWAYS knew when our neighbor was going to get some action because he always put on what we dubbed the “f*ck-jam mix”, always the same loud obnoxious jazz mix which would play loudly right before he and his visitor got busy. Made us laugh every time…. though not too loudly lest they hear us and we embarrass them. LOL.

    • Lol, the jazz mix reminds me I had a housemate who would just put his playlist on random when he had a *visitor*… Disney definitely came on more than once.

    • Ah hahaha… when we lived in an apartment, my husband (then-boyfriend) and I definitely had a FuckJam Mix. It involved a lot of Portishead. Lol.

    • When my now-husband and I started dating, he was living with one other guy and one girl. The guys picked on the girl like she was their little sister. Any time she had a gentleman over (even if he was just a study partner, or her sister’s boyfriend), they would put on their “Tasha’s Getting Lucky Mix”. It included a lot of Peabo Bryson, Barry White, and Amy Grant. When she got mad, they would tell her he was just trying to set the mood.

  8. This doesn’t really count, since I was in a hotel, but I heard a couple in the room next to me having sex REALLY loud. I think it was two men, but only one of the men was making it very well known what they were doing. He was making really loud, obnoxious grunts and moans…it was like a practical joke!

  9. At my first apartment, I was walking through the complex on a Saturday at noon and could hear a couple having very *energetic* sex. As in, you could hear the moans and the “Oh yes” from across a parking lot, volleyball court, and lawn area. They didn’t realize that the layout of the buildings created excellent enhanced sound. I almost wanted to wait until they were done and start clapping.

    • Similar but different – when a friend of mine was walking across our college campus, she walked past a dorm. She heard someone yell “FUCK” and then a computer monitor came sailing through the air and crashing to the ground.

  10. First, the sound of someone jumping from the top bunk directly onto the floor in the dorm room above us. “SANTANA. STOP STANDIN’ ON MY HEAD.”

    When we tried to turn them in for being too loud and repeatedly ignoring our complaints, they said that we were racist. Because getting tired of hearing clearly every word screamed by a pair of women is racisty. And seriously. There’s no better way to get off that bunk bed other than jumping?

    • And then there was the time I heard a guy say that he wanted to convert the “Do not walk” hand into a “flipping the bird” hand. Then watched him shimmy up the pole and attempt it.

      Pro tip: it doesn’t work. They’re like Christmas lights. One line gets cut, they all go out.

      • That might have worked had he just taken black paper and used it to cover the 3 unnecessary fingers. At my college, someone put hula-hoop stickers over the crosswalk figures, so it looked like someone hula-hooping. It made me laugh.

  11. I had neighbors that lived above me for about a year. They were like rabbits. There was a day that I heard them going at it for no less than seven separate sessions.

    But my favorite was one of the kids that lives in my complex. I was walking by and I heard this kid with a thick accent saying “And then he poked me. Right here. It hurts when you’re chubby.” Bless his heart I couldn’t stop giggling, it was so cute!

  12. The best story of this kind I have EVER heard was on the Bpal forum awhile ago–a member overheard her neighbors going at it, during which the girl began yelling “Word, word, word, word to your mom! Word to your mom!” I will never not laugh at that. 🙂

  13. We lived in a ‘garden level’ (read: basement) apartment in a downtown area so we could hear people as they walked by or stood on the corner waiting for the bus. One day we overheard a guy who was apparently talking to a female sex worker. He asks her all flirty “What are you up to?” She flirted right back until he answered her question “What are you doing right now?” He said “I’m waiting for my girlfriend.” Then she starts yelling, “Why are you trying to pick me up when you’re waiting on your girlfriend right now!?” Then we heard the clicking of heels as she walked away. I think it was an uncomfortable conversation for all of us!

    Last month our neighbors had some guests stay for a few weeks while they were out of town. The guests had really loud sex and they’d do it all the time! It sounded so fake that at first we thought they were just watching porn really loudly. A couple of times we’d hear them at 11pm, then we’d hear an alarm clock going off at 3am after which they’d have sex again. Then around 8 or 9 am they’d do it again. Who sets an alarm?!

        • Thanks for the insight! That totally changes my perception. I had all of these theories. One was that they were having an affair so they were trying to squeeze in all the sex they could. Another theory was that she was a sex worker and he was trying to get his money’s worth (obviously assuming a lot of things – one: that the female would be the sex worker and two: that she’d be paid by the hour. I don’t know how it works). Woah, my naivety is showing.

  14. The teenaged children of our next door neighbor used to provide hours of entertainment. Once, in the middle of a heated argument, the younger brother called the sister stupid. She shot back, “Oh, I’m stupid? I have a 3.0. You have a 1.5. Who’s stupid?”

    The brother shouted back, in absolute rage, “It’s a one-point-fifty!”

  15. our awkward isnt so much eavesdropping as accidentally seeing… our street is on a bit of an incline and our neighbors yard is two feet higher than ours, which makes that fence a bit short in actuality. Like short enough to glance over and see naked hot tubbing at 2 am

  16. In college, my roommate and I lived in an apartment that was great for eavesdropping – no AC and all the windows were open. We’d huddle in the bathroom with a bowl of popcorn and listen in on the couple next door. We nearly peed ourselves when we heard the fight where he confessed that he’d cheated on her and given her herpes! Poor girl.

  17. one apartment building i lived in was shaped like a C so in the summer when everyone’s windows were open (no AC) sound went out the window and bounced right back in to everyone else’s. there was one couple who either didn’t know this or didn’t care because they made so much noise during sex that the building managers posted signs around the building asking said couple to please close the windows before getting randy. it cracked me up every time i came home and saw one of the signs.

  18. I live right next to a golf course. So, naturally, during the summer my partner’s and my favorite pastime is to sit on the balcony and listen to the crap people yell.

    A typical example goes like this. Man’s voice: Fuck! FORE! A second or two later, a golf ball flies over the fence and into the yard. Then more swearing and stomping around. It never gets old.

  19. In one of our old buildings there was a couple who would go into the hallway and have screaming matches. We heard them yell “Give me back my change!” and “Let go of my sweater!” among other things.
    In a different building, in 2008, I over heard the little boy who lived below me tell the little girl who’s balcony was adjacent to mine what a great song “The Thong Song” is.

  20. My first apartment was above that of a very strange man who was a writer of some sort. He never went out or had guests over. And he only typed on a 1930s style typewriter – the kind that goes, “CLACKITYCLACKCLACKCLACKCLACKITYCLACK DING!!!! CLACKCLACKCLACKCLACKCLACKCLACK!” He would start typing every morning, even Sundays, at 6 am and talk to himself in between frenzied bouts of clacking. One day it must’ve been going poorly because I heard him pacing and muttering a lot. Then suddenly (to no one), “YOU’RE FIRED! FIRED!FIRED!FIRED!”

    Another apartment in Brooklyn I shared with a very strange young man who was vegetarian but not in a healthy way. He drank like a fish, smoked two packs a day and I never saw him eat anything but fried baby carrots (yes, just fried in a pan, no oil or butter or anything) and plain Greek yogurt. He spent most of his time holed up in his room not making a sound – several times I thought I was alone in the apartment for HOURS when suddenly he would BURST out of his room and clomp out the door. He used to bring home different women from Williamsburg bars – I never heard them having sex, but I did on *several* occasions hear him, alone, having what sounded to begin with like night terrors (“Noo! Noooo! NO!NO!!!”) that turned into marathon bed-clanging, wall-shaking self-pleasuring sessions (“Nooo….oooohhhh…GNNUUOOHH! GUUHH!!!”)

    Now that I live in a relatively quiet Philadelphia neighborhood, sometimes when I’m out in my backyard I hear the person whose yard is several doors down and cater-corner to ours having a sneezing fit on his porch. One night he sneezed explosively a bunch of times in a row and when he fell silent I called into the darkness, “Bless you!” and from down the block I heard a sheepish, “Thanks…” I’ve heard other people in the neighborhood calling their blessings to The Sneezer as well.

    • I am just like this dude! My upstairs neighbours sometimes call Bless You down after a marathon sneeze. In my dorm when I was doing my Undergraduate, the first week I scared my neighbour so bad she call security because she thought I was choking! (Why security? I have no idea)

      • Actually, I think a lot of times security=campus police/first responders. I am pretty sure even “911” on our campus would first go to the campus police, and then if it was beyond them to the actual police. FYI. 🙂

  21. I think we were considered the neighbors everyone talked about; probably because of an overweight shirtless Hispanic man in a sombrero manning the grill with 3 foot flames…this was my husband’s friend. Oddly enough, after this occurance the neighbors next door moved out within a month. We were neighborly and invited them over though.
    The neighbors that moved into their unit would frequently have explicit shouting matches.

  22. My downstairs neighbor appears to be learning to play the guitar. Unfortunately, all he seems to know so far is the opening riff of Smoke on the Water.

    • OMIGOD YES. In our last apartment, we had a teenaged boy upstairs who played the Smoke on the Water riff over and over again for hours. The best part is, when you’re learning how to play it, it goes reallllyyy slow, and the last two notes take forever to get, apparently. There would always be this long pause before they came. Must be a fingering change. 😛

      Ah, summers in an apartment complex.

      I also had a different upstairs neighbor (we had SIX in the year and 3 months I lived there) who would always lock himself out and ask if he could use my porch furniture to help him clamber up the balcony. Apparently, they’d leave the back door open for just such a reason. I got so used to looking out the window and seeing a pair of legs dangling from the balcony above. It was hilarious.

    • One of the high school in towns mascot is the Scots. Every year there are a few beginning bagpipe players for the band. Last year it was some kid in a 4 block radius of our place.

      The same few notes struggling to become a song OVER and OVER for hours.

      I would have totally taken smoke on the water over that.
      On a happy note, The kid did get pretty good

  23. Even though I live in NYC and hear crazy shit every day, I’m going to lead with a college story.

    Our dorm room walls were PAPER thin. The girl who lived next to me was having sex with her boyfriend while my boyfriend and I were attempting (and failing) to study. At one point her boyfriend said the following and it was impossible not to bust out laughing: “That shit is dry, girl. Throw some water on that!”

    That memory never fails to simultaneously amuse me and gross me out.

  24. I had a room that overlooked a bar patio for a semester in college. Like people could have passed me drinks had I not sealed off the crappy windows to keep cold air out. Karaoke, bar fights, upset girlfriends, all of that. Most of the time annoying, but occasionally hilarious.

    But my favorite people watching in college was overhearing people on the bus. One girl got on talking to her mom about how her car’s oil filter needed changing asked “So, can I get a new one?” Then after a pause, “Yeah, a Toyota would be nice.”

    Now we only overhear the neighbor’s dog whining when they kick her out on their porch. Snoozeville.

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