I’m starting to count down to the end of the university year, but I’m not a student. I just live under a herd of wilderbeests disguised as mild mannered uni students. One of them should take out a gold medal in Olympic stomping, and another who, though she is a wafer thin, short Asian girl, seems to be attempting to make holes in everything she walks on like she’s in a military parade. I’ve seen her walking down Aro Street using the same technique she uses on the floor inches above my head. Like a sledgehammer and woodpecker rolled into one highly irritating gait.
This is my first flat living under other people, and it can be stressful. I once lived in a flat above an old lady in Island Bay. The house didn’t get any sun until October and it seemed perpetually damp downstairs where she lived. I said hello to her the few times I saw her pegging out her parachute-sized underwear, but she only grimaced in my general direction. She was found dead sitting in her armchair one day, after a neighbour noticed she hadn’t opened her curtains in a few days. A friend of mine was her social worker – the old lady was schizophrenic – and my friend told me she would complain that the people living upstairs, that’s me and my partner, were trying to kill her.
When I hear that stomping starting to rev up in one of the bedrooms at the back of the house quickly approaching where my ceiling and their floor become the same piece of corrugated cardboard, I too think the people upstairs are trying to kill me. The pictures on the wall rattle, the little bottles of stuff on my dresser shake, and if I couldn’t actually hear the footsteps, I would think the big one was finally striking Wellington.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the girls upstairs. When I was sick with flu, they came down with a snickers bar, some roses and a paper doilie with get well wishes written on it. They’ve offered to feed the cat if I go away. One of the girls goes out of her way to chat when she sees me, and the Asian jackhammer is always really nice when she cames roaring past me on her way to uni in the mornings. When they had a party, they invited me up for dinner. I was going out, but when I got back, the party was in full swing with just-out-of-their-teens partygoers yelling random statements at each other from my front lawn. The dancefloor was right over my bed. I stayed at Matt and Nat's that night.
It just hasn’t occurred to them that having a mosh pit right over the small space where I sleep every night isn’t conducive to good neighbourly relations.
So I have made a decision. I’m going to drive them equally as mad. I’m to play Bad Guitar. I will practice really, really hard songs like some tricky Pavement or something, or maybe I’ll tackle Stairway to Heaven without tuning up first. I could borrow Martin’s amp and really give them a treat. Maybe I’ll sing along too. For hours at a time. It couldn’t hurt. It’s either that or one day they find my dead in my armchair with the curtains closed.