Two yards over from us, right outside my window, there’s a family with 24 children. Now that the weather’s nice, the children are let out of the house at about 9:00 a.m. and they remain outside until midnight…or even later. Now, I’m pretty outspoken about the fact that I don’t much care for children, but even if you think the little darlings are presh, you would probably agree with me that these particular children blow. I mean, they are just the worst freaking children ever. Imagine 24 little banshees setting up an inarticulate, piercing scream, and then maintaining that scream for fifteen hours a day, seven days a week, and you will begin to have some idea of the constant soundtrack that has accompanied my waking and would-be sleeping hours for the past several weeks.
And on top of that, the guys who live next door (in between us and the children) have also ventured out into their back yard. Which is fine. Except that they (and their friends) are of that breed of partiers who think the only way to enjoy socializing is to get drunk and scream. Back when I had a social life, I was in the ‘get drunk and lay around’ or ‘get drunk and vehemently discuss politics’ or ‘get drunk and laugh hysterically at everything everybody says’ social circles, and I have never understood the ‘get drunk and scream’ set. I mean, what are they even doing? What are they talking about? You know who I mean, right? Those who go “wooooooooooooooooooo!” over and over? What is that? If any wooers are reading this, seriously, explain to me why this happens, and why it is fun, and how it is even remotely tolerable for the people you are with. Why do woooooers have friends at all? They’re always surrounded by crowds. To me, the whole point of getting drunk in a backyard is to let it all go, to relax, to chill, to stare at each other and laugh at nothing, and let the wind blow through the chimes. I usually feel like screaming “wooooooooooooooooooooooo” when I’m at my most sober and parachuting from a plane. Not at 3 a.m., when I’ve had enough alcohol to knock out a horse.
Memorial Day eve, the guys next door at about 10 or so got out a guitar, and started screaming the lyrics to some songs. You’d expect drunk people to have a relatively short attention span for this kind of thing, right? No. They did the entire songs, and they kept it up, in unison and just screaming, for a full hour. And of course, since the kids were still outdoors, they started trying to scream over the drunk guys, and the drunk guys wouldn’t be upstaged by a bunch of children. Escalate, escalate. And the women attending the dude party crowed with forced laughter, trying to convince themselves they were included.
This is a bit of a tangent, but frankly, I just don’t comprehend the general jubilance that most people seem to be brimming over with at all times. It seems to take so little to make other people happy. One more damn, stupid Friday night with the same people drinking the same beer and talking about the same nonsense, and people go “woooooooo!!!!!” for sheer joy. I’ve never gotten that much joy out of a mere party, even if it was one of the (few) parties that actually turned out to be really fun. A party can be pleasant or it can be dull, but it’s rarely a portal to ecstasy (unless you’re on it). But most people are positively stoked all the time about nothing. These are the people who are so thrilled to be drinking and going “wooooooooooooo” that they will keep it up until the sun rises, and do it all over again the very next night. Even in my most hard-partying period, I either had to stir up some interesting shit (read: make out with somebody), or I was pretty much over it by 2:00. The only times in my actual life that I’ve felt such joy I could have screamed “woooooooo” for hours were the times when someone had just given me an award.
Which explains a lot about me, and now that I write that, I guess it’s not that it takes so little to make other people happy, but rather, that it takes so much to make me happy. Perhaps I should examine that.
(On even more of a tangent, I have a theory that this is how potheads get started: they’re formerly active people who one day realized that if they just deadened enough brain cells, they’d actually become able to tolerate the crushing boredom of sitting around living rooms with their friends, watching a movie that everyone has already seen three times. Woooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Anyway, back to the subject at hand, I don’t actually mind the next-door guys as much as the children, because the guys next door so far (knock on wood) have gotten quiet once it hits 11:30 or so (also, a couple of them are attractive). But the kids are out there screaming all hours. Children are officially more obnoxious than drunk twenty-something hipsters.
Speaking of children ruining things for everybody else, I believe I’ve mentioned before that I find the increasingly crowded running track to be another drawback of summer. I usually run about 11:00 a.m. on weekdays, and it’s a pretty good time to go. Yesterday, however, there was a nursery school on the track. Some childcare workers had taken a whole gaggle of kindergarten-aged children onto the track, where of course, the kids were all over. I was running past, and a little girl waddled right into my path; I swerved to avoid her, and she somehow managed to leap over a whole lane and get in my way again, at which point, I pretty much knocked her over. “Hey! Hey!” I barked, trying to warn her, but she was in her own world. The childcare worker, to her credit, yelled at the little girl instead of me – what I don’t understand is, this track is right in between a giant, grassy park, and a big playground. Given those other, clearly more appropriate and desirable options, why the hell would they bring the kids onto the crowded running track?
The city’s got me feeling so hassled this week that I’m even feeling crowded in my own bedroom, what with all the backyard hoopla. I feel overrun – wherever I am standing, someone will undoubtedly suddenly need to be standing right there. If I find a deserted area, five minutes after I get there, four people will come sit on my damn lap. Hey, New York: why don’t you all let me know wherever it is that you’re not going to need to be, and I will go there?
And yes, I realize that the answer to this question is “anywhere else on the planet other than NYC.” Sigh.
I don’t find children as repellent as you do, but I, too, am getting tired of all the screaming. I share a courtyard with an elementary school and live across the street from a high school. Kids scream for no reason, and as the weather gets warmer they seem to scream more loudly. The worst is a little boy (I think–I don’t venture out of my apartment much now that I broke my foot) who lives above me. His balcony overlooks my kitchen window. For the past two months he’s spent each afternoon yelling, “Give me liberty or give me death! Give me freedom or give me death! Give me cha-chaching or give me death! Give me bling or give me death! Give me ice cream or give me death!” If I were more mobile, I would happily oblige him in the latter.
Yes, I saw on your blog about your foot – sympathies!
I’m sure living under that boy gets old, but I have to say that just reading about him – he sounds kind of awesome. The kids who live near me are screamers of the more, “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” variety. Wanna trade?