I am knocking at a polite volume and friendly speed on my neighbor’s door. This is the one in the apartment just above mine.
He opens the door.
“Excuse me,” I say, “but is Miss Rogers at home?”
He stares at me. “What’s that?”
“I said is Miss Rogers at home?”
“Miss Rogers? What are you talking about? There’s no Miss Rogers here.”
“Oh,” I say, “I’m terribly sorry. But aren’t you Mr. Astaire?”
He blinks. “Astaire? What? There’s no Astaire here.”
“Oh, I beg your pardon, so this isn’t the Arthur Murray Dance Center?”
He gives me the most bewildered look. “What? No it isn’t!”
The door slams in my face. I feel as though I may not have made my point. I change tacks.
Once more I knock.
The door swings open. “Man, what is wrong with you?”
“Is it that obvious?” I ask.
“Is what obvious?”
“That there’s something wrong with me.”
He only shakes his head, speechless.
“What’s wrong with me,” I continue, “is that I’ve developed ultrasonic hearing.”
“Look, man, if you don’t get out of here . . . ultra what?”
“Ultrasonic hearing. I was sitting in my very quiet little apartment, the one just below yours, and I heard an ultrasonic alarm. I thought maybe you were Jimmy Olsen or Lois Lane signaling distress.”
He stares at me menacingly. “What the fuck are you talking about, you dick?”
“So hearing your signal,” I continue, driving my point home, “I flew up here faster than a speeding bullet.”
“You fucking assho —”
I interrupt his train of thought. “So are you in some kind of torment that causes you to jump up and down as though your job were to keep this apartment building from uprooting and flying off the face of the earth?”
“That’s it, fucker. I’m gonna beat the crap out of – .”
“I wouldn’t do that,” I say. “You wouldn’t want to damage your hands, would you? You wouldn’t be able to do your work.”
“As a professional mime.” I say. “You know. How you wouldn’t be able to get out of your invisible box if you couldn’t use your hands.”
I demonstrate the technique.
Once more the door slams in my face.
I believe I have now made myself clear on the matter. I return to my apartment and breath the pure serene in deep silence, but . . .
This time he sounds as though he might be practicing a gymnastics floor exercise routine. The walls and ceilings and floors are so thin in this building. I think I can actually see him turning summersaults. He is definitely making good use of the entire floor and is deftly sticking all his landings.
Were I judging him, I would have to give him a score of 11. Some neighbors are more courteous than others.