Murder, she wrote.

I’m not a violent person, dear readers,  but I think I may be developing murderous feelings towards my next door neighbour.

For a long time, the apartment on the left of mine was either empty, or occupied by a very quiet man who has now been joined by his girlfriend. I have never seen them; I wouldn’t recognise them if I met them in the hallway; I don’t know their names. I am, however, fairly intimately acquainted with them thanks to the paper-thin nature of the wall between our apartments.

Some facts about my neighbours:

  • They work late and/or socialise late during the week, returning home between one and four a.m.
  • He is quiet unless provoked
  • She is a spoiled, whiny, childish, noisy cow

Theirs is not a happy relationship. Inevitably I’m awakened by their return before they’ve even come up the stairs, their raised voices echoing throughout the building with seemingly no awareness of the time or the fact that most people are trying to sleep. They are almost always mid-argument. The door is opened and thrown back with such force that it crashes against mine and removes the last glimmer of hope that I’m going to get back to sleep any time soon.

He is usually telling her that he’s not going to keep arguing with her about this, and marches into the bedroom, where he falls silent, presumably getting undressed. Our wall is so thin that I hear him unbuckling his belt, and the squeak of the bed as he sits on it. Meanwhile, his girlfriend is screaming at him from the living room, her voice becoming more and more banshee-like with every wail. Eventually she storms into the bedroom, at which point he jumps furiously back into the argument. Occasionally she will throw something or he will pound the wall in frustration. Or she will storm out in a huff, right out into the hallway, where she lingers outside my door waiting to see if he’ll come after her – which he generally does, and there’s some more yelling and echoing before he drags her back inside. If he doesn’t come after her, she gets annoyed about this and storms back in to ask why.

None of this is the murder-inspiring part.

No, the part that makes me want to do horrible things to this girl I’ve never even seen is her voice. It is the single most irritating, annoying, nerve-gratingly painful noise I have ever heard. Without a doubt, her boyfriend is louder – when he yells, his voice booms and the windows practically vibrate. And yet I don’t want to kill him. It’s her. Her, with her shrill, nasal, droning, WHINE.

The Korean language and accent means that every sentence ends in a long, drawn-out vowel sound. This can sometimes make someone sound like they’re angry or whining even if they’re not. But whereas in English an angry person will put emphasis on a particular word, perhaps making it louder than the others (“What do you expect ME to do?!!!”), in Korean the anger comes through in that final vowel sound. The more angry the speaker, the longer and more varied in pitch that vowel sound will be (“What do you expect me to dooooooooOOOOOOOOoooOOOOOOO?!!”).

Now, add that to the fact that I can’t understand much Korean, and that I can only hear sounds (not distinct words) through the wall, and that it’s 3 in the bloody morning on a Tuesday. And try to hear what I hear:

Whine-whine-whine-whine-awAWWWWawwwAWWWWWWWWWWWW. Whine-whine-whine-eyyyyyyyyyyyyyEYYYYYYY. Whine-whine-AWWWWWWWWWWWWW. Whine-whine-whine-whine-whine-whine-ahhhhAHHHHHHHHHHahhhhhAHHHHHHHH.

She sounds like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum. I can actually picture her stomping her feet and sticking out her bottom lip. And the more she goes on, the angrier I become, lying there in my bed listening to her whining until I can take it no more and just scream something impulsive and not terribly complimentary in English. I’m not really a swearer or a shouter by nature, but I have surprised myself with some of the words I’ve yelled through that wall. It never makes any difference, of course.

I could be a little more forgiving if I thought she was some poor girl trapped in an abusive relationship, but I don’t get that impression at all. Especially after last night, when she came in alone for the first time and proceeded to call the boyfriend and fight with him over the phone. A whole hour of whining and shouting and sobbing, to the point where I was actually getting a bit alarmed and wondering if I should go round and see if she was OK. She was sobbing so hard that she could hardly breathe (she could still whine, though). I thought she was going to make herself ill. And then she hung up, and the crying stopped instantly. Not only that, but she put on the TV – and started singing along cheerfully to an upbeat pop song! What a manipulative shrew. If there’s an abused person in that house, it’s the boyfriend.

And of course, when they’re not fighting, they’re having horrifyingly passionate make-up sex. Honestly, speaking as a neighbour with thin walls, I’m not entirely sure which is worse.

I don’t believe I’ve ever hoped so fervently for a couple to break up since David Duchovny married Tea Leoni and broke my heart.

 

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