After spending three weeks in San Francisco, I returned home to my New York City apartment and there it was: a handwritten note taped to my front door, hanging in the hallway for all to see.
“For the last three weeks," the note read, "I have listened to your loud orgasms and I am sick of it!” I know it’s you and you’re a show off! Could you keep it down?”
So began my building-wide slut-shaming. And I wasn't even the one getting laid.
My plight reminded me of a Daily Star story detailing a letter neighbors sent to a young man in their building whose squeaky bed could be heard at all hours of the night as he got busy.
“Tighten up the screws and tie that bitch down,” the neighbors wrote, referring to the bed. “Or have sex on the floor or on the couch.” But in this instance, the letter was sent (along with condoms, "To show you we are cool with you getting laid... ") instead of taped to a person's door for who-knows-how-long. So, props to the Brits for being so damn polite.
Turns out, most of us have overheard sex
Listen, I get that making (and overhearing) loud sex sounds is kind of a regular thing. Lots of people have inadvertently listened to their neighbors doing the deed -- and even more have had to suffer through their own roommates' weird noises. A survey of 400 New Yorkers found 68% have heard neighbors in their apartment buildings audibly engaging in sex acts -- and only 12% ever reported the noises to the neighbors themselves or property manager. Those who do, often leave notes.
But no matter how normal it is to hear other people doing it, being falsely accused of making the noises still sucks.
Tracking down the real culprit was harder than I thought
A few weeks after discovering the note mislabeling me as the building screamer was posted to my door, I awoke at 4am to a neighbor noisily making her way to the big O. She was a moaner. A groaner. A screamer. An “Oh my god"-er” Her dialogue suggested she had watched a lot of porn and/or had participated in the making of it. “Hell, yeah, oh yeah, baby, that’s it, right there,” she yelled. Her moans and multiple orgasms wafted through the fire escape on a warm night like a song in West Side Story.
She was really loud. No wonder my neighbors hated me.
But strangely, I didn’t get mad. I actually got kind of turned on. Psychologically, when we overhear someone else having sex, the excitement and arousal comes from listening in on something you’re not supposed to be listening in on. Nevertheless, I still couldn’t tell exactly where all the noise was coming from. There are 85 apartments in my building -- which, by the way, adds to how offensive it was that it be assumed I was the one putting on the show.
I felt most pathetic when I got down on all fours and squished my ear to the floor, checking to see if it was my downstairs neighbor. And like a huge loser, I twisted my neck on the way back up.
The screaming solution
Comic John Fugelsang told me once that his Greenwich Village neighbors were so loud that he couldn’t take it anymore. “I had neighbors who copulated with such heroic regularity that whenever they reached sonically obnoxious level, my girlfriend and I would blast polka music out the window and ruin it for them.” As for his own noises? “I don’t mind my neighbors overhearing me, as long as I’m with a partner.”
The Kama Sutra says sex sounds can be a turn-on... if they’re done right. The ancient sex manual recommends that “lovers make animal sounds during lovemaking to increase sexual energy.” To start, you practice deep moaning and groaning and work your way up by adding animal sounds like growling, purring, cooing and grunting. Moaning and groaning may be hot in the privacy of your own, sound-proofed bedroom; but there's something terribly unsexy about hearing human voices moo, gobble or quack through a shared wall.
And anyway, none of these things would quell the annoyance of my neighbors. No, I've come up with a different solution.
Anytime I hear the “real” screamer going at it from some still-mysterious location in my apartment building, I take a cue from Shaggy and write a note of my own for the front door:
“It wasn’t me!”
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