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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Quiet please; thin walls create late encounters

Published: January 17, 2014
Section: Opinions

I’d like to preface this by saying that the guys who live directly above me are wonderful human beings. Great conversationalists and genuinely funny. But friendship and charisma are no excuse for rude behavior.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m intolerant of noise. Back in seventh and eighth grade, I hated going to B’nei Mitzvahs because some cruel cosmic force would always seat me up close and personal to the speakers. I’m not one for loud music, and I don’t begrudge anyone who is, as long as they play their loud music more quietly or away from me.

So of course I live in Shapiro, the dorm and not any of the other 20 Shapiro buildings here, and sound travels fast. The walls are thin. I’m in a double next to the staircase and across from the bathroom, a place where headphones don’t help.
The three boys who live over my head have musical aspirations. Sometimes they have like-minded company. The first week of the fall semester began with a bang, and when I went upstairs in my bathrobe and shower shoes to investigate, I found that they were “play-fighting. You know, like pretending to throw a tantrum. You know?” I did not, but my living situation is a learning curve.

I’m not sure if they think they’re a thrash metal band, but with free performances ranging from eight in the evening to four in the morning, I don’t care if it is smooth jazz with an homage to Beethoven. Maroon 5 is not exactly to my tastes, but fine, they have never made an attempt on the life of my dog, and the “Saturday Night Live” episode with Adam Levine was all right, so I would not say I hate them. But, and this goes out to a great many young guitarists, you are allowed to play the songs of other artists.

All my life I have been hounded by guitars. My sister plays the instrument, my father plays the instrument, and my mother owns and longs for the day that she will know how to play the instrument. When I first arrived at Brandeis, unsure of what to expect, I was greeted by a group of singing boys struggling to strum along in time to the words in a scenic locale sitting on the bench next to the disgusting Massell Pond.

My roommate and I have been awakened by an impromptu encore countless times. Some of them end in friendly confrontation. I trudge upstairs in my pajamas, hair and eyes wild like I’m channeling the Ghost of Christmas Future, and quietly ask them if they could please keep it down. They usually apologize and agree and I’m relieved. Until the next time, which is sure to happen the next day. To their credit, I usually offer a 24-hour grace period.

It’s gotten to the point that my roommate and I have to watch TV at an uncomfortably loud volume in order to feel that we are exacting revenge on them. They didn’t take the hint, because this continued well into finals week last semester. I know that I could go to the bottom floor of the library for complete silence, but when it is 10 degrees out, it is easier to study in the room than to walk up the hill from Massell.

I’m skittish, like a small animal that hates noise, and when the band plays songs of their own composition, the lyrics are distracting, up to and including every possible rhyme in the English language with the word “llama.” (There aren’t many, and “Obama” is a proper noun). Sometimes they just sing their own names, long and low, some sort of minimalist touch. I can’t say I appreciate it.

They’re not the only offenders of their kind. They belong to a certain class of criminal, and some of the girls who live in my hall are among their number. A boy who probably lives in the lounge is another such type. But—and this is crucial—I don’t live beneath them.

An unsubstantiated rumor that the talented trio is planning to convert their room into a studio has reached me. If this is indeed the case, I am asking that the room be reliably sound-proofed. Don’t forget that Slosberg has practice rooms. That’s the most viable alternative, and the Dunkin’ Donuts is right nearby, so I should not have to be graced with their musical stylings all of the time.