This will be me once I get my guitar back. In other words, anyone would be lucky to have me as a neighbor... on the fire escape singing "Moon River."

Unless you’re fortunate enough to live in Siberia or some other place far less populated than the majority of the “civilized” (and I use this word very loosely) world, you will have to deal with neighbors at some point in your life. Even if your closest neighbor is a half mile away, somewhere along the line they’ll need you for something or you’ll need them for something, and you’ll have to engage in some sort of relationship. Similar to family members from hell, you also don’t get to choose your neighbors; when you get a bad one you’re stuck until one of you moves.

Before I left for Colorado my neighbor asked if he could borrow my record player while I was gone. I told him I’d think about it and let him know. Just a few nights before his request he was over and, in attempt to play some of my vinyl, he actually removed the slipmat and placed the record directly on the metal platter underneath. I obviously freaked out on him. I understand that he’s a kid (23) and turntables aren’t exactly part of his generation (nor mine either), but it was shocking that someone could be so obtuse about something.

I decided then that there was no way he was going to borrow it while I was gone. Not only did he not know how to use it, but the player used to belong to Swede so there’s some mild emotional attachment to it. I left Colorado without ever giving my neighbor the OK to borrow it. But since I didn’t say one way or the other, he decided that it meant he could borrow it after all.

At one time we had this endearing relationship of entering each other’s apartment via the fire escape (something he started) as if we were living in a Truman Capote novella. It was sweet and romantic, but it started to wear on me. It’s difficult to enjoy having sex when you fear your neighbor is going to come tumbling in through the window at any given moment.

So because that was our means of entrance for a hot minute, he thought it appropriate to crawl in my bedroom window while I was away and swipe my stereo, speakers and record player. Apparently, he never once considered the fact that he could possibly scare the shit out of my neighbor (luckily she wasn’t home at the time), or that maybe she’d want to use the stereo since she was paying good money to stay there for the month. None of this seemed to register in his head at all.

On top of the trashed apartment to which I returned home, I also had to contend with the fact that although I wanted to listen to Sharon Van Etten on my record player on repeat after a long flight, I would have to go without because some people are missing the common sense part of their brain. I was livid.

I forgave my neighbor, briefly; but then it all came falling apart. I realized what was once endearing was no longer so. It had reached a point where he was clearly taking advantage of my previous niceties. As I watched him help himself to the food in my fridge for the 50th time, I came to my senses and decided enough was enough. I live alone for a reason, and although it was all cute and cuddly to have a flashback to dorm style living, I’m over it. Lines have been crossed, boundaries haven’t been respected and he took the last of my Ciao Bella Key Lime Graham Cracker Gelato Squares!

Whether you live in the suburbs or in an apartment building in a city, we can all relate to the neighbor who got too comfortable too fast. Here are nine signs that it’s time to cut ties before you end up like me: screaming Sharon Van Etten aloud to yourself at 3am as a means to block out the angry (and murderous) thoughts in your head.


Photo: Paramount Pictures