Soap Opera

The house right next to mine used to be a rental house, full of fairy-like goth kids who would flit around in their rooms in flagrante delicto with their shades up while I ate my breakfast. Soon after I moved in, the house was sold, and the renovations started. They are putting a third story on this puppy, and gutting it, stripping it, shining it up until one would never imagine that grungy tattoo clad youngsters used to live there. Kind of sad. Nordic Boy and I have been overly curious about who our new neighbors will be. The house keeps getting bigger and bigger, dwarfing us in its shadow. What kind of bigwigs are moving in next to us? How many rooms could they possibly need? When there is a new or different car parked on the street, we crane our necks to try and spot the newcomers. So far, they have not been spotted. They have, however, been heard.

The other morning, I was soaping up my face to the regular sounds of the morning. Nordic Boy shaking up his box of almond milk, birds chirping outside the window, wind whistling through the trees. Then…Puccini. Something was being sung, from La Boheme, if I’m not mistaken. LOUD. So loud, it sounded like it might have been Nordic Boy, busting out a secret soprano voice from inside our house. I walked out into the living room and looked at him. He looked back at me.

Me: Did you hear that?
Him: Hear it? Of course I heard it. It almost broke the windows!
Me: Is it just me, or was that singing? As in LIVE singing?

Before he could answer, there it was again. A real live soprano opera singer, belting it out at 8am.

Him: Wha—?

And before he could even finish that word, another voice joined in! A tenor! There were two very professional-sounding, very loud opera singers serenading each other right next door! God, I felt cosmopolitan, having my neighborhood sounds be live frickin’ Puccini. Could it be our new neighbors are opera stars? How FRASIER is that?

You might be thinking, having opera singers next door, especially opera singers who like to serenade each other before breakfast, could be a problem. You might be right. But you know what? They sounded GOOD. If I have to be woken up by something loud, a beautifully sung aria is not a bad way to do it.

Listen, I have had bad neighbors before. I know what a bad neighbor is. And artists who can sing up a storm are just fine with me, compared to some of the neighbors I have experienced. For instance, there was the Meat Family.

The Meat Family was headed up by Meat Man, the patriarch. Meat Man’s favorite pasttimes were grilling, killing things and screaming at his two children, the Meat Babies. Let’s start off with the grilling. On his front porch, he had three large state-of-the-art grills, so that when he was standing at them, one was in front of him, one was to his left, and one was to his right. He would stand there, oh, I would say maybe 200 evenings out of the year, grilling the shit out of something. His porch was three yards away from our front door and all of our front windows, so the grill-smoke would waft in, on a daily basis, until I would just have to take the batteries out of my smoke detector, because it was either that or pretend I was in a Heart video. Slightly annoying, no? Let’s move on to the killing. Meat Man liked to march up and down our street, “weeding” the grass that was growing up through the cracks in the sidewalk. Only, instead of actually weeding, he would walk around with a Meat Man sized, 6-foot blowtorch, incinerating any weeds that looked at him the wrong way. WHO DOES THAT? I lived in constant fear that he was going to set the entire block on fire. Also, he informed us that one night, he saw some teens running up our street in the middle of the night, possibly up to some shenanigans. “I had my hand on my rifle- they were lucky they ran up the street so fast!” he told us proudly the next day. Nordic Boy asked him, “well, you wouldn’t have really shot at them, right?” To which he replied, “damn right I would have! I won’t have that sort of riff raff in OUR neighborhood!” Great, thanks, Meat Man. Excuse me while I put my bullet proof vest on before you pepper our yard with buckshot, will ya? And lastly, Meat Man would go on these hunting trips, where he would bring back huge carcasses of something or other, whose blood would fill up the back of his truck bed. He would hose out his truck, and the blood run-off would run down our street, stinking up the gutters and splashing up onto our driveways. Whenever this would happen, Nordic Boy and I liked to exclaim to each other: “the streets shall run with BLOOD! Bwa-ha-ha-haaaaaaaa!” Because, really, what else are you gonna do with a situation like that?

Then there was the screaming at the Meat Babies. The amount of screaming at these kids that happened on any given day was alarming to me, but then I do not come from a screamy house, as I know many people do. I have friends that I grew up around that had a lot of screaming happening, and they turned out fine so let’s hope for the best for the Meat Babies, shall we? So far, however, they were the two brattiest kids I had ever encountered in my whole life. They would greet Nordic Boy like this: “Hey! Gimme a dollar!” This would happen right in front of Meat Man and Meat Lady and apparently that was just fine by them. They also would look at the both of us rather derisively and say “GAWD your house is small. How do you even LIVE there?” But I guess this was ok from the perspective of Meat Man, who routinely told us that he wished our landlord would sell our house, because as far as he was concerned, it was just the size and quality of an ok-ish shed, you know, to store his stuff.

So, when I heard that opera busting through our neighborhood at breakfast, it really did not give me pause. Sing it up, neighbors! Welcome to the neighborhood! But, if you keep singing La Boheme, I’m telling you right now, you’re gonna hear a lot of things from our house when you do so. Namely, I’m sure Nordic Boy will have to yell “I ain’t no freakin’ monument to justice!” and I may have to say “she was coughing her brains out, and still she had to keep singing!” Listen, you have uncontrollable breakfast arias. We have uncontrollable pop culture references. I think we’ll get along just fine.

Kiss the rings, I’m out.
Librarian Girl


  1. Are you sure you don’t really live down here in Georgia? Meat Man sounds like a whole bunch of the rednecks around here.I don’t get opera before breakfast with my neighbors. I get techno dance music at 3:00 a.m. Good times.

  2. I’ve had to listen to various annoying neighbor’s too-loud music too much over the years. I now loathe any kind of music if it’s too many decibels. I would strangle Maria Callas if she lived next to me and sang too loud in the shower (if she wasn’t already dead.)

  3. P.S. Speaking of rednecks down here in Atlanta, my former across-the-street neighbor used to sit on the front porch on his motorcyle revving the LOUD engine over and over and over again very early (pre 7:00 a.m.) just about every single Saturday morning. Then he’s just drive it right into his living room. And he was always wearing his white t-shirt and overalls. His dad would sit on the porch swing in his wife beater and unbuttoned and unzipped pants. Okay, I’m done now.

  4. I am laughing my ass off neighbor! People..she is not even exagerating about Meat Man. Remember that night at the commune when we were eating outside and the arrows started to fly across meat man’s back yard? Scary shit, folks. I’d take opera arias any day over that!xoxoneighborj

  5. at my parents’ house, we could hear an extremely talented flautist practice during the summer for years. then suddenly they moved away and i had never realized how much i’d miss them.

  6. One of my favorite sounds is the sound of a piano coming through an open window out onto the street. Back when I lived in the Decrepit Old Shack, my neighbor two doors down would practice, and it was lovely.Then the neighbors one door down moved in with a drum kit and ruined it all. Some neighbors are just better noisemakers than others–I too would take the opera singers.

  7. gotta be better than the screechy chavs (does this translate??) who grace my next door house. They’re so nast-eee. They regularly have screaming matches where they call each other the *in hushed tones* c-word. I really wish they’d move out. D’ya reckon your neighbours will take requests? You could ask for a “Pretty Woman” moment and flounce around in a big red frock :o)

  8. Oh my lord, Meat Man sounds terrifying! But I did loooooove the reference to living in a Heart video; for a second I was thinking that would be kind of awesome, particularly if you got to have the Heart wardrobe and hair. Glad the operatic neighbors work for you–my friend currently lives next door to a church and gets to hear Sunday morning services and Wednesday choir practice. I think it’s kind of soothing but she can’t handle it.

  9. One neighbor practices the piano, it’s lovely. Another screams at my dogs to “go home!” I keep telling him THEY are home, would he please go home!The opera singers, very Fraiser.

  10. I have “Bodily Function Man” living behind me.He is outside all the time and he is constantly belching or coughing up a loogey, or farting. Yes i hear him FARTING. I hate him with a firey passion it the spring and fall when I can enjoy my back patio.

  11. I have “OCD Laundry Lady” living in the apartment below me. She washes stuff twice a week at least, and there’s always a set of sheets and towels taking up the line on weekends. I’ve seen through the crack in her door when she leaves it open to go do the changeover. She has an ironing board permanently set up under her window. She listens to NPR at 7am, probably while folding socks. I feel like I must stealthily do laundry now if I want my turn. And yes, Lady, I am going to use the dryer. If you continue to take my stuff out of the washer I will make a point of doing a load that consists entirely of stained underwear.

  12. I’ve got lovely across-the-street neighbors that I swap plant care with, even though one of them asked me if I was pregnant and told me I had the perfect first trimester bump (yes, I am forgiving him for that, just because he’s neat in every other way). The kids next door ride bikes up and down the sidewalk while yelling, “Diarrhea, diarrhea!!”, which cracks me up. They also leave neat chalk designs or silly writing, like “A. has stinky pants!” Must be the diarrhea!

  13. As one might expect, our neighbors are pretty quiet here in Japan but we do have the Fanatical Futon Beating lady. Fanatical Futon Lady beats her futon 5 times a day it seems, but looks as us as if we’re crazy when we try to beat ours. I can’t believe I haven’t slept in a real bed in 5 months.

  14. Oh wow. And I thought we had it bad when the neighbor kids would play with knives screaming after each other “I’m gonna keeel you!” and slashing up the screens. Then when we found them going thru our trash we knew we had to “go on git out!”But opera that’s such a change. And a relief I am sure.

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