Joan's Blog

"Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat"
FEBRUARY 8, 2010 4:03PM

The Old Lady In Apt. 202

Rate: 66 Flag

I have known that I was getting old for several years now. The face in the mirror hints at it. More importantly, I know I am getting old because I am chronically annoyed.

If I had a yard I am quite sure I would be chasing kids off it. As it happens I live in an apartment. Which until recently seemed to be filled with old people. I suppose we have lived here for so long my husband and I have become the new generation of old.

Our building has lately been filling up with college students. Kids away from home for the first time. I hear them coming in at 4AM loud and drunk. They are doing their best to find their keys and their apartment while lying down in the hallway.

Yesterday I heard a woman (probably another oldster like me) banging on the door down the hall. Turn that music down or I'm calling the cops!

Never mind that we had 30 inches of snow. No emergency operator in her right mind  would be sending a police car to shut down some loud music. Maybe if there had been an actual altercation they would have considered it, but the streets are not plowed so there might need to be some blood.

There is a university around the corner.  Our building must be running a special for students because they make up two thirds of the population here now.

I stick my head out when I hear them staggering in the hallway. I have turned into Mrs. Kravitz. I peek out my keyhole to assess the situation.

When I get back into bed I cannot fall asleep. I am angry to be awake at 4AM and I am astonished to realize that I have turned into the old lady snoop down the hall.

Last night was the last straw. The upstairs neighbor was laughing hysterically at 2AM. She kept clicking her heels back and forth on her bare floor laughing and laughing. I heard no other voices so I am assuming she was listening to someone on the phone or entertaining herself.

Hebephrenic is the word that comes to mind. Only because in seventh grade my daughter won the city wide spelling bee championship on that particular word. I am not making an actual diagnosis here.

Look, I want to laugh as much as the next guy. But nothing is funny to me at 2AM. This happens so frequently I would actually be interested to ask what is so damn funny up there.  I need a laugh too.  But not in the middle of the night. Old people need their sleep. So I did what any crotchety old person would do. I got the broom.

I tapped on my ceiling like old Mrs. Kravitz would. I tapped four times.

Everything stopped. No more clicking back and forth. No more shrieks of laughter.

I had done the unthinkable. I put the kibosh on this one woman party with a broom. A sure sign that I am approaching a state called "elderly."

My own daughter is away at college. I am blissfully unaware if she is fumbling for her keys on the floor in the hallway at 3AM or laughing hysterically while pacing in high heels.  She is in a dormitory where she belongs. Far far away from old people who need their sleep.

And out of the reach of the cranky old lady in apt. 202. 



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Delicious writing here Joan. Too many wild and funny images to mention and too many for any self respecting 'old lady' in training! You don't fool me.
I had a dream, a few years ago, that I was literally yelling at teenagers to get off my lawn. At the time, I laughed when I woke up. But now . . . now I see where it's all leading . . . extra points for the use of "Hebephrenic."
Yay Broom! Good job old lady, she needed to be sent to bed.
Maybe not so fun an 2 am, but pretty funny reflection at noon! I giggled all the way through.
Hilarious and too too relatable for comfort. I've always been this way though. I just always exhausted by 10 pm and was a college aged Ms. Kravitz once.
The Hebebrephenic thing killed me. Spelling bee. Ha ha ha.

I only know that word because my sister fell madly in love with the most beautiful hebaphrenic ever about 25 years ago. how he would laugh all on his lonesome.

Love this piece. Terrific writing, funny, real, and charming.r

what the hell is with that heel clicking ?wtf jeez.
Wonderful funny writing!
You can't fool could never be a mean old lady!
...and what's this about "old?" I hear you're only 39.
Yes, we're aging. It's damn irritating. But here is this lovely post. If you want something to be glad of, be grateful that you're not on call 24/7.
I like the image of you banging that broom handle on the ceiling, Mrs. Kravitz. Hope it helped the situation.

*rated for crotchety-ness
Joan, this was just great. Okay, I guess I am getting old too because I am afflicted with constant annoyance these days too, especially from needless NOISE. It makes me crazy. I had some people move in next door to me the other 2 am. What's up with that? Are you kidding. I wanted to run out in my pajamas and flip them off.

I just need peace and quiet is that too much to ask?

Nicely done.
I'd love to be that crotchety with my neighbours, but they scare me.

I feel soooo identified with this post ( and not with the College kids, by the way) Because, I have used the broom against the ceiling of my apartment too!!
Excellent, hilarious (and slightly depressing ) post.
Rated, kisses,
Admitting it is the first step. Plus, I've found broom handles solve lots of problems.
baa haa haa ... great read ... thanks
If they only knew who was actually underneath them! It's JOAN H.!Don't they know you're JOAN H.?

Plus, three words that will change your life forever: white noise machine.
Oi -- college kids. The apartment manager must be desperate for new tenants -- nothing takes down a neighborhood faster than renting to those heathen college kids.

I'm pretty sure if a broom would work my neighbors would be banging my fence when my dog decides to alert the 5 mile radius of a possum.

Good old Mrs. Kravitz. Maybe you should use this as an opportunity to write a story about the woman walking around at 2 am in stilettos, laughing hysterically. (And be sure to tape a copy of it to her front door) God knows how many reasons she might have for laughing -- including hebrephenia!! (I had to look it up.)
This makes me realize that if I didn't live in a house, I'd probably end up in prison for using my grandma's shotgun on the ceiling instead of a broom. And that there are no kids in my neighborhood is probably a good thing. My condolences.
Last week, I got off a city bus and saw the fellow behind me throw a piece of trash on the ground. I turned around and said "There's a trash basket RIGHT THERE!" He picked up the paper and threw it in.

There's something to be said for the power of cranky old ladies, isn't there? (for the record, I'm in my mid-forties, but old-lady experiences know no number)
Lovely narrative shared by many. I had to laugh recently when a nurse in my mother's hospital referred to her as 'geriatric' and 'elderly,' since I consider her neither, but myself feel both.
I must have been old before my time. I remember wielding a broom and a chair when I lived in an apt in NYC, many moons ago. Sleep is sleep! Funny stuff, Joan.
@Gail, calling something I write "delicious" is high praise. Thanks so much for reading.
@Bonnie, you are right. I too remember being the noise-maker. But they never stuck us in with old people, for heaven's sake! Thanks for coming by.
@Owl, I wonder what that dream was foretelling... Thanks for reading. please, yes, she did need to be sent to bed and apparently, I'm just the one to do it.
@fernsy, I just knew you would feel my pain. WTF is with the heel clicking indeed?
@Steve, 39. See why I like you so much?
@Risa, it could be worse. I could be a dorm mother.
@Linda, thanks so much for stopping by.
@Scarlett, thanks so much. Just call me Gladys.
@Eden, who moves in at 2am? Mrs. K would have lost it. Thanks for reading.
@iamsurly, your neighbors must be really bad...Thank you for reading.
@Marcella, I no longer feel so alone. We should all use the broom more often.
@Julie, ha! I'm keeping it handy for all sorts of problems from now on. Thanks!
@CrazeCzar, thank you for reading!
@Bell, they really don't know who they're messing with. As soon as the snow melts, I'm getting a white noise machine Great idea.
Love it! Now if I could just bang on the ceiling for my kids... Excellent writing. Made me laugh. And remember those college days.
@Jane, I really can't stand noise anymore, but definitely not in the middle of the night. Thanks so much for reading.
@skel, you said it. The neighborhood has gone to hell in a hand basket. Thank you for coming by.
@Mumbletypeg, we are kindred spirits. Thanks for reading.
@ers617, you go girl! I love wielding my power as an oldster.
@Kathy, I know. Some people really are not old when they are old. I am old in middle age. Thanks for coming by.
@Denise, good to know I am in such good company. Many thanks.
@froggy, I'm pretty sure the broom trick works on your own kids too! Thank you for reading.
Ha! It's all part of being a kid to have an oldster stop the fun! We all remember someone doing that to us, don't we? xox
I am picturing your broom tap and looking at your pic and it's too fun! Loved this!
Favorite story of a 'crotchety old lady': Madame Wong, owner of Madame Wong's West. After many years as a successful restauranteur, her business began to slow due to her hiring of lounge singers for weekend entertainment. At 66 years old, she saw that Punk and New Wave were all the thrill, and started hiring those bands, becoming one of the biggest supporters and starters of what would become some very famous bands.

One night, The Ramones were playing at her west club, which she had to open to accomodate all the talent, and they had written on the bathroom walls. She stopped the set and made them clean it up before they could resume playing. xox
@Amanda, I am so glad to see you, girl!
@Robin, I aspire to be exactly like Madame Wong. Ordering the *Ramones* to clean up their mess? No words for it. Thank you for such a cool story.
Hysterical, I had a problem like that, but my neighbour was in her 60's, dating younger men and playing loud music. It was like telling my mom to knock it off!!
This is what happens when you eat cucumbers and read Dennis Knight on curmudgeonry before going to bed. You're not so old, you know. Because the older you get (past a certain point) the less sleep you need. Here's an idea for the hyena upstairs. Buy a pack of cherry bomb firecrackers from some lawn-invading kid. Then, when she starts in again - and she will - light a cherry bomb in the bathtub and put a pillow over your ears. Then, next day, knock on her door and apologize. Tell her an old boyfriend stopped by - a cop, tell her - and accidentally discharged his sidearm. Might persuade her to move into a dormitory herself. (r)
That IS a cool story, Robin. ( if you check back and read this)
Hi again, Joan!
@Poppi, as the kids say, *awkward.* Wow. Thanks for coming by.
@ClarkK and Aunt Mabel, your suggestions are genius. Both very different approaches, but genius nevertheless. Thank you for reading.
Great, you old crank. Welcome to the club. I have tee shirts if you want one, here someplace...
Wonderful post, joan. Though the idea of hebephrenia gives me the hebejeebees. Sakes alive, what was that woman thinking, laughing at two in the morning. Tsk, tsk.
Oh, my dear, we live in a college town, among the student rentals, where loud bass, yard-peeing and loud driveway break-ups are commonplace. We did find a way to cope, and it's okay now, but I fully understand that MADDENING sense that someone is violating your peaceful enjoyment of your living space, and I think it has to do with being civilised, not elderly. God, loud drunks ticked me off when I was 20....
@Dr.S, of course I want a T-shirt! I hope it says something really inappropriate.Thanks for reading.
@AHP, it happens so often! Nothing is that funny.
@WAH, you are good to have on my side. You get no sympathy for having 2 grey hairs, however. Unless you are 19 or something.
@Ann, I would so much prefer to think of myself as civilized rather than old. You say you found a way to cope. I'm curious.
This is really funny, especially how we turn into everything we used to make fun of. But then when we were young, we were polite and never laughed too loud and clicked are heels right? I know I was.... (he he)R
Gads. This is more soothing. I needed calm before bed.
Joan H. You reminded me of` Miss Gee - W. H. Auden.
Let me tell you a little story
About Miss Edith Gee;
She lived in Clevedon Terrace
At Number 83.

Miss Gee knelt down in the side-aisle,
She knelt down on her knees,
`Lead me not into temptation
But make me a good girl, please.'
(I was deleted by MD Amy boo huh)
She bicycled down to the doctor,
and rang the surgery bell,
`O doctor, I a pain inside me,
And I don't feel very well.
on and on. You look it up?
You'll love the peek 0 boo.
great sharing. Ya go to jail.
"Doing their best to find their keys and their apartment while lying down in the hallway" indeed! Just brilliant. My condolences, HB
Loved this--loved the way you put yourself into the picture and the disbelief.

Ever since i read your piece I've been wanting to go fogey on your neighbor's asses. Such a good piece!
I laughed all the way thru this Joan.
Funny but sad.
Getting old is not for sissies.
This is funny-I can relate. I invested in a sound machine with a white noise setting. That erases all voices, laughter, etc. Then when using a humidifier I realized that wiped out the layer of banging type noises (doors slamming, etc.) With all my equipment I'm pretty sure that I could sleep through a natural disaster! But I'm middle-aged, I need my sleep. The only downside is that now my kid is hooked on white noise, she can't fall asleep in a quiet room.
This is FUNNY! I loved every minute of it!
Lordy, Joan. I must have been born old. The upstairs neighbor in our first apartment used to clack-clack-clack in high heels all over the kitchen floor above us. We were 18 and 20, but we still followed her around the ceiling with the end of the broom. It worked!
@Dear Art,
Poor Miss Gee.
I pray I'm not she.
Tell me, how much sadder
Could one life be?

Not a good bedtime story, but many thanks.
If I trek in snow puddles and mud, apology.
I seem to follow, but, I am harmless, no tease.
I have no harum scarum mannerisms, I hope.
I giggled as I read Miss G. sacrum, pain in knee,
And these poem came out of war, bad economist,
Bank sharks, urban sprawl, servitude (rage) &/peace.
@Rita, writing this did bring up memories of my own bad youthful behavior. Thanks.
@Kyle, its the newest club I don't want to belong to.
@HB, I appreciate the condolences! Thank you for reading.
@sophieh, thanks so much!
@fernsy, its good to know you've got my back.
@Mission, I'm glad you laughed. To get old is to get tough. Hmm, sounds like shoe leather.
@Caroline, thank you. Thats two votes now for white noise machine. I'm there.
@LL2, so glad you laughed. Thanks for reading and laughing.
@CK, your description of following her around with the broom makes me laugh. Apparently, the broom is the universal instrument of *shut up*
Cranky old ladies come in all shapes, sizes and genders. I'd have done the same thing.:)
Lovely story -- I giggled the whole way through. But don't worry about being that grumpy old lady: my roommate is 26 and she's been known to take broom to ceiling on occasion. Whatever lets you get your beauty sleep.
Straight from the heart, beautiful writing, Joan. Age is not a prerequiste to identify with that kind of frustration, especially when one deals with students all day. Remember the good advice you received here from ClarkK and Aunt Mabel - not that I hope you'll need it - but they'll certainly work.
In my forties my parents moved in with us. We put them in the lower level and all of our floors were either hard wood or tile. I can only imagine how annoying it was that every step, every late night trip to the restroom was over their heads! Probably as annoying as realizing that my parents were now hearing my entire life. Fortunately since they were living in my house, it would have been rather difficult for them to complain and bang on ceilings.
Don;t you just wonder if the woman who was clicking her heels was saying, "there's no place like home, there's no place like home" and that maybe she would magically find it and it would be in another city (or building)? Great post. I love Gladys Kravitz. "Abneh... there's something strange going on over there...!" ;)
This was just delightful! I just wish the dogs next door would respond to the broom in kind.
Joan, this was great. Seems like I'm a little late. i remember growing up in an apt in NYC, we were on the top floor and the downstairs neighbors were always poking the ceiling with a broom!! I now live in an apt for 55+ (ACTIVE adults). perfect. Though, one of my 20 something daughters lives with me (only one has to be over 55) oh well.
Heehee. This is one reason I have always loved earplugs. Funny, Joan.
Oh at 2am, I can find lots of stuff to laugh about, like uh, The Golden Girls on Lifetime.

Don't judge me!! :D

Rated cause I might be old, but I ain't THAT old!! GET OFF MY LAWN YOU KIDS!!

Never mind!! I'm THAT old! :D
@sweetfeet, thanks for your support! Good to know I'm not the only one with a broom.
@Stellaa, you said it. Thanks.
@Leah, thanks. Good to know crankiness spans all age groups.
@FusunA, it was good advice, wasn't it? Thank you for reading.
@L&P, yeah, this building is definitely not the Ritz. I will make a trip to Brookstone as soon as possible. Thanks for coming by!
@Kim, Ha! I would still take the broom out for noisy family members.
@Cartouche, I had completely forgotten about long suffering Abner. Thanks for reading and for the reminder.
@pastvoices, naw, dogs are too smart for that.
@trilogy, wow, the broom never goes out of style. Thanks for reading.
@mypsyche, another good suggestion, my dear. White noise machines, earplugs... I'm excited.
@Tink, The Golden Girls... Who doesn't love 'em?
@Art, visiting me twice? I'm over the moon. Thank you.
This is so great Joan! For many a year, I was convinced that I would be that old lady, sitting in my back yard broke down lawn chair, mean chihuahua tucked under my arm, swatting at kids and pigeons...xx a
This is so great Joan! For many a year, I was convinced that I would be that old lady, sitting in my back yard broke down lawn chair, mean chihuahua tucked under my arm, swatting at kids and pigeons...xx a
I love this. So funny and well written. I too find that I am annoyed a lot these days. So it's old age? My kids were right.
Definitely not an old lady ... I have two seven-year-olds and their noise can drive me batty! I can only imagine the noises and thumps of kids running everywhere ... no way! I am fortunate enough not to be able to hear at night but am very sensitive to thumps and bumps so I would be even more grouchy than you!! Love this essay! :o)
Too funny! Love it. Glad to live in a house in a quiet neighborhood. (Moved away from the noise of our rowdier, more fun neighborhood when the last kid went to college.)
keep that broom handy, Joan!

( I never underestimated the importance of my sleep.)
Joan...did you hit a nerve here or something??? : )
Hee hee.

I get mad when I hear the rowdy crowd across the street at the bar. On a Tuesday! At 1am! Don't other people work in the morning? I understand when people are loud Friday and Saturday nights. But Tuesdays?
Oh this brings back memories of our first apartment. I SWEAR the upstairs neighbors used to bowl with frozen turkeys across their kitchen floor - daily. And then there were the sex sounds. Good grief! If people living on the second floor only knew what they sounded like to people living on the first floor...

Great writing as usual, Joan.

Old ladies unite!
@Akopsa, eeww, pigeons.
@Reader, thanks for coming by.
@Reb, I've missed you!
@Caroline, thanks for reading.
@mimetalker, tai, JD, I appreciate you coming by.
@Gwen, that "hee hee" makes me suspicious.
@Lisa, lisa, lisa. I wasn't going to mention the sex. But don't get me started. That is my next door neighbor. Another post I suppose_
I needed a laugh, too, and you made me laugh out loud at every line! I can't say enough how much loved this! Just perfect!
Oh no! I am both getting old AND a 2 a.m. noisy neighbor! I love all the images of you in this post. I promise I won't move in upstairs.
Ah Joan, LOL. The lady with the broom- just one more of life's milestones. I love this .
I don't think I discovered you until maybe a month after this post. This is fantastic and so relatable. Having read many of your posts since this one, I can say that your writing (at least from a reader's perspective) is effortless and consistently well worth the time.
Stupendous. I LOVE this! And hey, there are plenty of college students who, if they have an early class or test the next day, would get just as pissed off by 4am drunken partiers.