Is your apartment “historically charming” – as in it’s too old to have proper soundproofing? Is your residential building incredibly close to another one? The answer to both questions is yes, because you live in San Francisco.
And because you live in San Francisco, you most likely have had the experience of being awakened by the sounds of your neighbors getting it on in the wee hours of the morning. Or you’ve had your potluck awkwardly interrupted by the couple in the throes of passion next door. It’s not just the racket penetrating the plaster, there are also the physical vibrations that come with the screwing-telltale wall shakes I’ve nicknamed “sexquakes.”
I’ve lived in the Mission for two years and Berkeley for four, so I’ve had my share of screaming orgasms, squeaky bedsprings, and pounding headboards that didn’t come from anything I was doing. I’ve used those experiences to develop some coping mechanisms that I’m happy to share.
Crank the volume on the most depressing song you own. I suggest Bright Eyes, as the dude practically cries through most of his songs. Or play the national anthems of select countries. (You always were curious about New Zealand’s!) NOTE: Do not play angry rock songs, as those may inadvertently turn your neighbors on.
For every time you’re awakened by a neighbor’s theatrical humpathon, you get a free pass to host a loud party or belt out all of Justin Bieber’s hits at 7 a.m., and they are not allowed to complain.
Whenever you hear a libidinal peep, instigate a group chat with your other roommates or neighbors where you share play-by-play highlights and rate the performance on the other side of your wall. Score the frisky duo on endurance, creativity with dirty words, how much you think she’s faking it, etc.
Whatever the neighbors are doing, you can do better. Currently partnerless? No problem. Practice moaning, yelping, trilling, and yodeling until you can orchestrate a pornographic chorus to what’s going down behind closed doors. Soon enough the real perpetrators will realize that they have an audience. Extra points if you can harmonize or sync your rhythm with theirs.
Think positive – aren’t you glad that in a big city where it can take years to get to know the people around you, you're on the fast track to knowing your neighbors so intimately? Say to yourself, “That Bob! He used to shoot his load so quickly! He really increased his timing that second round. By golly, I’m so happy for him!” Or “Geez whiz! Sounds like Lisa got a new lover! Good for her. That last one sounded like a barking sea lion.”
Take the aforementioned “positive thoughts” surrounding the newly acquired knowledge about your neighbors and drop them into small talk to passive-aggressively shame them into keeping a lid on it. For example:
Pretend you've been living under a rock and do not recognize sounds resulting from sexual intercourse, mistaking them instead for cries of pain. The next time you see your neighbor, wear a worried expression on your face and feign concern for the possible emergencies occurring in their bedroom. Like: “Hey Riley, it sounded like someone was being choked in your bedroom – from like 1 to 2 a.m. Is everyone all right?” Frowny face is key here.
Buy earplugs and move your bed into the kitchen.
Look, I get it. Sometimes we’ve gotta get laid, but other times we need a good night’s sleep. We get our turns at both eventually. It’s just a matter of having mutual respect between people sharing walls.
I'll close with a final piece of advice, a quote by the wise Trey Songz from his masterpiece “Neighbors Know My Name”:
“Take this pillow right here, grab this. And I know you’re so excited if you bite it, they won’t hear. ”