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Does The World Really Need Another Blog?


   "…Good fences make

       good neighbors," 

         - Robert Frost

     Mr. Frost had a point, but I suggest from personal experience that he could have added a corollary: "Thin walls make intimate neighbors." 
     Allow me to explain.
     Camille and I were living in a newly built apartment on Main St. situated directly above the Irish Classical Theatre. While noise from the productions and audiences was never an issue, for some reason the builder neglected to install enough insulation in the walls dividing the apartments. And it didn't take long for us to learn that the wall directly behind our bed separated our bedroom from that of a neighboring couple, one that rarely got along.
     As we lay in bed we could hear their arguments coming through loud and clear, making out every spiteful word they snarled at each other.  We could only assume that they heard us just as clearly, so we acted accordingly.
     Until one night we, or rather I, didn't.
     An elderly friend of ours named Jack, for whom we provided support and personal care, would call us if he was in need of something. Late one night, just as we'd climbed into bed, the phone rang. I picked it up and on the other end of the line was Jack.
     Now having a phone conversation with Jack, who could barely hear even with his hearing aids turned up full blast, was always a frustrating task, and this night was no exception.
     "I need help, Pat!", he cried into the receiver. " I can't fall asleep.  Can you come over?"
     I held the phone out so Camille could hear Jack's shouting, and whispered to her, "I'm not even dressed and he wants me to drive over there. What does he think I can do for him?"
      "You've got to go," she whispered back, "he sounds really desperate."
     "Okay" I sighed, and put the phone back up to my ear.
     "Okay, Jack, I'm coming over," I said.
     "What?" he hollered. "What? Are you coming now?  I need help here!"
     "Yes, Jack," I repeated, louder this time, "I said ' I'M COMING!'"
     Hearing giggling coming from my left, I turned to see Camille with a hand over her mouth trying to stifle her laughter. Oblivious to what she thought was so damned funny, I try one more time, even louder.
     I'm beside myself with frustration. On the one hand I've got a deaf man pleading with me to get dressed and go out in the middle of the night, and on the other, a wife who is snickering at some private joke of which I can only assume I am the butt.
     I hang up, turn to her, scowl and say, "What's so fucking funny?"
     Without answering, she points to the wall behind the bed, and it dawns on me. Our neighbors have heard my shouting, and have likely come to the conclusion that I must be cheating on my wife with some dude I picked up at the gay bar across the street.
     After calming down I did, of course, climb out of bed, get dressed and drive to Jack's apartment. Once there I tried my best to convince him that not only was insomnia common among people of his advanced age, it's also never been known to be fatal. I made him a cup of chamomile tea, wished him well, and headed back home to bed.
     While Jack continued to need help at odd hours, I learned to move to another room to take his calls.
     And forever after, anytime I shared an elevator with our now, newly intimate neighbors, I would simply nod a greeting, pull my collar up around my chin, and keep my eyes glued to the floor until we came to the bottom and the doors opened.

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