Just over two months ago, I moved into a new apartment in Brooklyn.
By New York City standards, it’s pretty big. It has a backyard and two bathrooms and three bedrooms, two of which are downstairs in a room which is situated right underneath the apartment of our neighbours.
(I don’t really know how that works either, but I’m no architect, so I don’t question the building’s rather odd design features.)
This, my dear friends, is where my problem begins.
Because if I’ve learned anything from the 12 months I’ve been living in this crazy city, it’s this: no matter how nice things seem, something will always be a little bit… off.
I have a big bedroom. And a closet that spans the entire length of one wall. I have my own private bathroom, with a shower that doesn’t also double as a mouldy bathtub (a rare treat).
But I have also heard every single one of my neighbours’ orgasms for nine weeks.
All four of them in a row. At least four times a week.
Now, I'm no prude. As a married woman living and existing in 2018 I also do ~~the sex~~. (But if you're related to me in any way, I promise I just hold hands. Maybe a kiss on the lips once a month.)
I just don't have it as often as my neighbours do. Or quite as loudly.
My problem is not with their incredibly amorous ways. They seem to be a happy couple who are clearly in love, everything is consensual and performed to a... satisfactory... level.
LISTEN: Porn star Madison Missina shares the household items you can use to spice up your sex life. (Note: my neighbours definitely don't need these).
My problem is, instead, the sex seems to occur at less-than-ideal times and now I'm not sure whether I should tell them I can hear, well, everything they do.
The first time I heard it, I was working from home when sounds akin to a pornographic feature film began filling my bedroom.
"Oh, that's interesting,” I thought to myself as I continued to busily type away and send some very important emails.
"It appears my neighbours have chucked a sickie for a romantic day in bed together. I'd rather not hear it, but whatever, I'll just pop on some music to drown it out."
The text I sent to my roommates was less understanding.
"The couple next door are having the loudest, most pornographic sex ever. Bet you guys wish you weren't at work today!"
I may have also included an eggplant emoji (or three).
The next day, I was enjoying an after work drink with my husband in our backyard when I heard it again. We tried to escape the noise by retreating indoors to our kitchen. But it was still there.
So we headed downstairs where the noise was, somehow, even worse.
Another time, it started no less than a minute before I was due to have a video meeting with a manager. A few days later, it came (pun very much intended) as I was answering my door to collect my dinner delivery.
"Um... that's, umm... that's not me," I stammered to the delivery man, even though it was completely obvious I was not the person mid-coitus, mid-climax because I was fully clothed and also STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM.
I even heard it while watching Oprah's rousing speech during the Golden Globes. I know. I'm so sorry, Oprah.
The 'neighbour sex' has at times haunted me when I'm not even home. While out one night, I received a text from a friend staying in our apartment.
"That was... educational". Then minutes later, "Oh, it's happening again." Forty minutes later, another text read, "ROUND FOUR?!"
Welcome to my life, I wanted to respond.
Nine weeks in, and the sex has become just another part of the soundtrack that is my New York City life: a rat scratching to get in through my walls, an orgasm, a fire truck screeching down the street, a car angrily honking its horn, another orgasm.
Up until a week ago, I'd always sort of assumed that my neighbours were well aware of their noise and how audible it was to the others that lived in the building.
But then my husband had a conversation with one half of the couple and discovered she had no idea that there were actual human beings living directly underneath the room in which she conducted her naked activities.
When asking my husband how we fit four adults into a one bedroom apartment, he replied that three quarters of our household actually lived underground like tiny little mole people.
Her eyes widened. "Oh."
Before this conversation, I had considered slipping a note under their door to alert them to the fact that their love-making was a little bit disruptive.
"Hi friends," I imagined the note reading.
"Just want to say keep up the good work, glad you enjoy each other's company, but could you perhaps limit your sessions to only once during business hours? Just trying to have a serious chat with my manager about annual leave."
I would probably sign it with an "xx" (definitely not "xxx", lest I give them the wrong idea) and then add a smiley face for good measure.
But knowing that they might not be even a little bit aware of what was going on, I imagined how I would feel if I arrived home to find a similar letter on my front door.
It would be mortifying.
It would be worse than the time someone left me a note telling me my dog had been barking all day and that I should look into buying an "electric shock collar" to "get her under control".
I would probably be afraid to make any type of noise ever again. During sex, and during any other type of activity. I would never want to sneeze, cough, or take a deep breath for fear that someone was listening.
Because as normal and as healthy as a good sex life is, it's still something that the majority of people would very much like to keep private.
Unless, of course, as our household is beginning to expect, our neighbours are actually avid amateur webcammers and are making millions off their regularly scheduled sexy times.
In which case, they'd probably be less upset about us listening in on their relationship and more peeved by the fact we've been getting free shows for weeks.
To be fair, the sex noises aren't the worst things I've heard from my next-door neighbours: a few days ago, they listened to Jamiroquai's Canned Heat on repeat for two hours.
And that, my friends, is just unforgivable.