The Complete and Total Loser’s hands are shaking as he writes this and he’s a little sad that no one will ever be able to verify that years from now, to see quivering scrawl written by candlelight, a fountain pen on good paper, a leather bound book.
He’s calming after a direct confrontation with a new neighbor, a young man in his converted rowhouse who seems to think the best thing to with his free time is to have two friends over, get buzzed on play loud music on a poor sound system, jump up and down and sing as if calling hogs.
The Loser hadn’t even seen this person before. The voice sounded like a punk’s and sure enough the man is thin. Too thin. Like a model. He wore tight clothes like European’s in 70s movies do, the gay guys. The other man remained sitting on the futon. The girl was also model thin and if the Loser didn’t want to kill all three he’d have appreciated her beauty more.
The noise and occupancy is new, just three, four days, but it’s been constant and long-lasting. By the time the Loser went to the door his heart was pounding with fear and rage. He pounded on the door, punching it three times, then trying it and finding it unlocked (why do people do that, front door lock or not?) opened it. The Loser, his temper gone, shouted his, some rough language flying. The man apologized, saying he’d never had a complaint in other places he’d lived, the usual shit. The back and forth went on for less than five minutes. The young man said he did not like the Loser’s “cursing,” even though it was incidental, not directed at him, and the way the Loser barged in. Fair enough.
After he shut the door behind him the Loser heard the woman say, with an artificial nasality for sarcasm, “Wow!”
Once, during his sophomore year the Loser played his stereo loud enough to warrant intervention. It was before a holiday—Thanksgiving? Christmas?—and most students had left his sleepy Midwestern campus for home, so the Loser thought blaring The Who would be fine. A security guard knocked on his door and politely informed him that two women upstairs had a long drive ahead of them the next day and needed sleep. The Loser said something like, “Oh! Gosh!” and turned his music down immediately. This small incident made him realize forever after that sound travels and that the right anyone may have to make noise is superseded by the right all others have not to hear it, and that their hearing it should be assumed.
There have always been some selfish jerks who behave as if this isn’t so, but the Loser fears the percentage of them is increasing. The young have been coached to boost their self-esteem, to believe that every act they do has validity, that their individual freedom is unique and precious and that any attempt to reign it in is insensitive bigotry. In their view common courtesy applies only to how others treat them.