My Neighbor Vacuums Before Boys Come Over

Hope he doesn’t suck.

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Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

Yesterday, as I was meticulously folding my tank tops into Kondo-like rectangles, I heard the unfamiliar sound of a vacuum cleaner being employed in the apartment next door. How nice, I thought, maybe people can change. Not long after the vacuum stopped its arduous heaves, I heard another unfamiliar sound reverberating through the discount plaster: a boy.

A man, naturally, I suppose that’s what we’re meant to call human males in their twenties, though to me they all come across as teenagers with tax returns. I recognized the lack of investment in his tone and the “please like me” in hers that I remember so well from my own decade of misadventure and wince-worthy decisions. I don’t know how they met but I’d wager my travel budget it was via an app. The kids these days, with their binary code-generated connections. It’s as if the world is now held together with that box of random cords under your bed. Their banter didn’t last long, I heard them leave for what I assumed was a lubricating evening. The weather was gorgeous, I hope they sat outdoors.

The hours must have been mutually pleasant, because at some point in the evening I was awakened from my slumber by 90 seconds of the most consistent jackrabbity sex that’s ever imposed itself upon a shared wall. A metronome-like interaction that reminded me how often we fuck without feelings as youths. Did they know each other’s last names? Who’s to say. It was so precise I truly couldn’t tell if they were copulating or putting up a painting.

This brief but poignant interruption of my REM cycle got me thinking about this woman vacuuming. The care she put into her space before she welcomed a guest into it. A guest who I heard leave before sunrise. Why did she bother? He wasn’t coming over to give her a health inspection rating, I can assure you. He was coming over so that they could put in motion the four-hour modern dance performance where we pretend we don’t know what’s going to happen later. Until you arrive at your thirties and take a much more direct approach for the sake of time and hangover avoidance. We both likely have things to do in the morning.

I remember (though I’m not sure how, good lord the alcohol) the fickle nature of sex and dating in your twenties. Without knowing this person’s name I can dictate for you the conversation she’ll have with her girlfriends over drinks tonight. And I can also dictate to you the one-word text messages she’ll get from him over the next 72 hours before he retreats entirely to simply watching her Instagram stories from afar. That will last until November, when she’ll hear from him out of the blue and I will hopefully no longer live in the neighboring apartment. And though I don’t care one bit if this woman had sex with her future husband last night (she sings “In My Life” by The Beatles daily, I want someone to bring me her head), I do take some comfort for her in what I know she got out of the events of the day for sure: clean floors.

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NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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