The troupe of scaffolders that follow me around the world with their chisels have now been outside my window for five months. The construction on which they are working goes up by two floors per week, which sounds bearable, until you realise that there might be another 100 to go. Claims that it is going to be the tallest apartment block in New York do nothing to alleviate my stress. Add to this the car horns, fire engine sirens and cruise ship foghorns on a daily basis, and the Hell’s Kitchen area in which I live becomes more hellish by the day.
None of the above, however, compares to the hell within my apartment block, where, shortly after I moved in, a couple with a Pomeranian arrived next door. My area is predominantly gay, which is great, as I feel very safe, and the guys everywhere are so friendly. Most of the couples have dogs and, interestingly, very small dogs, on whom they lavish affection I have rarely seen them bestow upon each other.
So, the two guys who moved in next door are the very proud owners of Mr Winston, a black Pomeranian who does not like being left alone. I know this, because every time the owners go out, Mr Winston scratches at the door and barks and barks and barks. It can be half an hour, an hour, or, on Saturday night, 90 minutes. It was probably longer on top of that, as I had to go out when I could no longer stand it, but later discovered that the guys had returned an hour after I left.
I have been around small dogs all my life – two poodles, a Chihuahua and a Bichon Frisé. I love them. But all four together could not make the noise that Mr Winston does. I have complained to the management on several occasions, but they seem powerless to do anything about it, despite having asked the residents to get a dog-sitter; I have even offered to look after Mr Winston myself, with no luck.
And now, “What fresh hell is this?” as Dorothy Parker said. In the apartment opposite Mr Winston, another couple have arrived, with their bundle of joy – another Pomeranian. Worse, another Pomeranian who also doesn’t like being left alone, and so, when all the owners are out at the same time, the dogs bark to each other across the hallway from their respective prisons. My fresh hell is the StereoPomics.
This week, I finally flipped and requested that the management move me to another apartment. At first, they wanted to charge me, saying that they would be left with an empty apartment, but after I pointed out I would be moving to another and that they were in breach of my lease in my being unable to enjoy my apartment in peace, they relented, and I will be moving up six floors, where I will be closer to the scaffolders but further away from the music of the StereoPomics.
I never thought I would get to know so much about US real estate law. Having successfully sued a landlady in Los Angeles for partial non-refund of my deposit when I left, I have had to start over with New York law. Every state has different laws relating to every aspect of American life, so while in LA I would be allowed to buy medicinal marijuana (not for myself, but to feed to noisy dogs in the form of cookies), in NY, where marijuana is illegal, I am reduced to shouting “Shut the f**k up!” in my corridor.
I have always had sensitive ears, and I recently went for hearing tests where I was told that I have the hearing of a dog. So, for all I know, Mr Winston, his new lover and I are all on the same frequency and they are barking to each other and saying: “When will that damned woman stop talking to herself?”
Having lived in big cities all my life, I am used to traffic noise, and I have pretty much become immune to the sirens and horns in NY. But there are certain frequencies that still resonate badly on my nerves. I was having lunch with a friend recently at an outdoor restaurant on 9th Avenue (a very noisy place) and I heard a woman talking loudly into her cell-phone as she crossed the road.
“Why do people have to talk so loudly?” I said. My friend was incredulous that I was sitting outdoors, amid traffic, sirens and all manner of other noise, yet tuned into one human voice. There are just certain pitches that are louder than others.
Anyway, I am moving apartments over the next few days and have checked out the dog situation on my new floor – just one, and not a Pomeranian. There is a very nice Japanese couple next door and, as far as I know, the Japanese are a quiet race. Apart from their love of karaoke, of course. That certainly won’t bother me, as I’ll be straight in there, hogging the microphone.
Maybe I’ll sing How Much is that Doggie in the Window? Very, very loudly, through the air con unit that will resonate six floors down.
Let’s see how you like that, Mr Winston.