People, Sexuality, Violence

The Sex and Violence Next Door

Sometime ago, when Hannah lived next door to me and Colleen lived with her husband Mark upstairs, Hannah got a boyfriend.

Hannah and her new boyfriend sequestered themselves in her apartment for a week making love. I don’t even think they ate for the first two days — it was only on the third day that I smelled cooking odors.

Yet, their honeymoon only lasted a week because Colleen complained to our landlord that Hannah’s love-making was keeping her awake at nights.

It’s not that Hannah was unusually loud during her lovemaking — it’s that our apartments are not well-insulated against noise. Consequently, we all heard Hannah’s cries — which sounded soft, like falling, drifting leaves. I simply ignored them, but Colleen took offense.

Now, in the years Colleen and Mark lived together with their son, there was yelling nearly every night. The loudest yells were Colleen’s, followed by her son’s. To say they bickered would be an understatement, and both Hannah and I heard their white hot anger. Neither one of us complained to our landlord though.

About a week after Colleen complained to our landlord that the noise of Hannah’s love-making was intolerable, Hannah, still feeling very hurt, asked me why I thought Colleen had complained about her. Hannah was 18 at the time, and her eyes welled with tears when she spoke to me.

I reached out and very gently brushed some strands of hair from her face — the only real answer to her question was a hug. Sometimes you just wish you could protect young people from the ugliness around them.

“Some people are more offended by sex than by violence”, I said, feeling lame: “And very often, you will find that those who are offended by sex hold nothing against violence, while those who are offended by violence, hold nothing against sex. You’re a beautiful person, Hannah. Don’t take Colleen’s opinion of you to heart. She wouldn’t mind if you yelled all night at your boyfriend — she only minds that you make love to him.”

9 thoughts on “The Sex and Violence Next Door”

  1. Rather than complain, my friend and his girlfriend decided they would try to ONE-UP the couple they could hear having sex. That to me seems like a much better response. 🙂


  2. Paul: I have a hypothesis about why people in urban areas do not make eye contact with their neighbours. Thanks to the noises of any kind, the neighbours already know too much about them! Somehow making friends with them in such a situation is a bit odd.

    I wonder though why you did not complain of Colleen’s shouting? Was it possibly out of embarrassment?


  3. Interesting thought. I have noticed that with the society I am part of too. While people seem to ignore violence between couples saying it is their private business , they get all worked up with public demonstrations of love – something even as simple as holding hands or a hug.


  4. I like your comments—-isn’t it amazing what irrational prejudices we have? Why should we find an expression of love more offensive than an expression of hate…?

    You might have felt lame saying that, Paul, but my guess is that it made Hannah feel a lot better. 😀


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