I had big social plans for the inhabitants of the 11 units on my floor when I moved in four years ago. BIG social plans: open-door parties, plant-watering services, built-in dates when real dates couldn’t be secured, borrowed cups of sugar, friendly help with DIY projects … it was essentially going to be dorm life without the homework. Or the Flock of Seagulls haircuts.
Unfortunately, the inhabitants of my floor—at least the handful of them I’ve met—aren’t exactly the ideal dramatis personæ for playing out my social fantasies. To wit: the unbalanced gay couple who won’t answer their door after they invite me over and who won’t tell me what they do for a living, the disheveled hermit whose place looks like the set of Earthquake: The Musical, the barking dog who doesn’t seem to live with any discernible human, the steady parade of guilty-looking miscreants who move in and out of the one rental unit with alarming frequency, and the squatty Polish lady police officer with the hearing problem and the mullet whose increasingly frequent orgasms ring loud and clear through the wall we share. LOUD AND CLEAR. (Though I was shocked to hear the moans of men coming from her place as well; I would have bet lots of money she drove a doughnut truck, if you know what I mean.)
Despite my optimistic social aspirations, though, the sad reality of highrise living is this: empty hallways lined with securely shut doors, elevator floors that are too fascinating to tear your eyes away from and (in my building, at least) an abundance of monolingual Russian grandmothers who smell like borscht.
The only real place to meet people in my building is the elevators (making friends in the laundry room is for some reason so totally uncool even Britney wouldn’t try it). But with three elevators and a population somewhere in the 400 range, it’s extremely hard to run into the same people in my building more than once a month. Which makes it all but impossible to cultivate friendships that last more than the time it takes to hit the lobby.
And I—your pathologically shy protagonist—have nevertheless worked my BUTT off trying to build enduring elevator friendships. Even with people who look boring. Even with people who don’t speak English.
My easiest point of entry so far has been dogs. Our building is littered (HA! LITTERED!) with them, and they’re constantly being ushered in and out for elevator rides and bowel-voiding adventures. I discovered early on, though, that the your-dog’s-beautiful-what’s-his/her-name approach is too small-talky to induce lifetime relationships—so I’ve been reduced to more drastic measures: Talking directly to the dogs. Which has to get to the point quickly if it’s going to impress the dogs’ owners:
me (in exaggerated doggie-voice excitement): Are we going outside to POOP? Are we going outside to POOP?
dog: wag wag wag
dog’s owner: (chuckle chuckle) We sure are!
me (as elevator door is opening): So … um … can I have your number?
I know: It wouldn’t even work for someone as beautiful and charismatic as Trent Lott.
Speaking of molten dog crap, a shitz-poo with an alarmingly full rectum actually got me involved in an elevator chat last night that ended in an hour-long conversation with a guy on my floor and tours of both his place and mine. Woo-hoo!
See, the dog left a rather soupy, revolting mess on the
Here’s the kicker: He’s lived on my floor for more than two years. There are only 11 units on my floor. And we’d never met until last night—which just underscores how challenging and unlikely it is to meet people in my building.
But he does live on the other side of Orgasm Lady, whose hearty vocal stylings waft into his place as loudly and clearly as they do mine.
So you might say she’s what’s been coming between us all these years.