Monday, July 18, 2011

Jingle Jangle Junkies

My downstairs neighbors Tristan and Elle
(I know, but let's get past that) are the kind of young couple I really admire -- they sign a rental agreement and then just do whatever the hell they want with their apartment. They've ripped out the cheap sixties-era pasteboard shelving, installed lighting that activates when you trip the sensors, put in metallic splashback tiles, replaced the nightmarish kitchen linoleum with terracotta tile, and painted an entire room in black chalkboard paint so Tristan can cover the walls with formulas and theorums that have something to do with whatever it is he does for a living. I even heard his footsteps on the roof the other night when he was installing some sort of antenna up there. Sure, they'll never get their deposit back, but in the meantime they're getting the most out of their living space.

So I was talking to someone at one of their cocktail parties one Saturday evening and overheard something that made me like them even more. "What did you say about wind chimes?" I asked Elle over the jumbled noise of music and voices.

"I hate them," she said, then proceeded to tell us how a neighbor had hung a particularly jangly set of chimes on a nearby balcony. "Is there anything more intrusive in a crowded neighborhood like this? I put a note on her car that said 'Please take them down,' and she tore it up and put it on my car."

As a lifelong foe of the imbecilic wind chimes, I could appreciate Elle's dilemma. Sure, if you live in the wilds of the Santa Cruz mountains and you enjoy listening to a metallic cacophony that sounds like the onset of a schizophrenic episode, hang your wind chimes and your Native American dream catchers and your silk-screened gecko banners to your heart's content. But when you live in a densely populated hillside neighborhood in the middle of San Francisco, the wind chime that soothes your simple, babylike mind as you drool your way to sleep is the aural toothache of a hundred neighbors.

"So what did you do?"

"I put a hundred dollar bill in an envelope and slid it under her door. The chimes came down that same day."

Who says kids today don't know how to get things done?

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