On occasion, I set aside some time to reflect. I bow out of the rat race, congratulate the winners, and then return to my kitchenette for an afternoon of fruitless introspection. These afternoons have always provided a serenity that dramatically contrasts with my raucous mornings of flying waffles and other frenzied acts of solitude.
Through these reflections, I have been able to slow my unraveling. Although I’ve had no epiphany, nor even the skeleton of a helpful thought, I’ve gained a perspective that comes with age and memory loss.
On a recent Monday, I sat down at the dinette table, after inserting the leaf to make room for both my elbow and me. I began to contemplate the week’s lows, and savor the lone high—pulling in a Canadian jazz station.
Suddenly, a peculiar whirring sound could be heard, shattering the tranquility that is only made possible by knowing no one. I got up from my chair—an activity penciled in for that evening—and searched for the sound’s origin.
Because there were no other humans, the next in line of succession would be appliances. The refrigerator, in particular, had been responsible for many unwelcome noises. And as it was in its defrosting cycle, accounting for its mood swings, the fridge was the likely culprit.
If I could pin this sound on the fridge, then I could eliminate possibilities that took me deeper into the occult. Unfortunately, the whirring now seemed to be emanating from the floor, which brought the occult right back into play.
What I heard confirmed my greatest fear: The sound was coming from a neighbor. It was the man from 2A, a belligerent fellow known mostly for his shirtless retrieval of the mail.
Some months back, I’d signed a petition censoring this behavior, putting me on record as an oppressor of the personal liberty and foe of the burly, and cementing my reputation as a rigid ideologue and upstairs crackpot.
I grappled with the decision for several hours, forgoing my 5 PM ham thaw. After further deliberation—and whirring—I concluded that a visit was necessary.
On the way to 2A, I walked through the essentials of polite conversation, imitating the one such exchange I had witnessed up close.
It was critical that I not appear to be there just to talk about the sound. I had to work it seamlessly into the conversation—much in the way I’d once been smoothly fired in a discussion veiled as a sincere inquiry into my cognitive skills.
I knocked on 2A’s door, knowing for sure then that the whirring was coming from inside. A fellow named Roger opened the door. There were a few awkward moments, as he took off his shirt:
Me: I just came by to introduce myself.
Roger: You signed!
Me: I signed under duress. I felt the tenants needed to be united, especially in light of the upcoming sewer talks.
Roger: What’s wrong with the sewer?
Me: Have you seen what’s going on out there?
Roger: I haven’t been out. It’s too cold.
Me: Then put on a shirt!
Roger: I have a rare skin disease. A shirt impedes my ability to produce new skin.
Me: How much new skin do you honestly need?
Roger: Are you that imbecilic bitch in 3A?
Me: I am. May I come in?
Roger: Sorry. I must return to my quest to get even.
Me: How so?
Roger: My little box that whirs continuously.
Me: I have to go. I have a ham to thaw.
Roger: Keep it down when you do that.
I returned upstairs to consider the source, and reflect anew.
Bye for now.