“More than two-thirds of city residents say they regularly hear their neighbors having sex,” says the New York Post today, “but few are brave enough to complain about it, according to a survey released yesterday.”
BU’s survey, or at least their editors’ portrayal of it — “Note to early risers: Almost no one wants to hear you [having sex] in the morning (12%)” — posits audible sex as a public menace, like bedbugs or loud dance music in the wee hours.
The Post gets in on the fun, which in their view is to mock people who demonstrably enjoy sex. They quote Leslie Vandike, one of the surveyed subjects (How’d they find her? We’re never taking one of those things again!), who says she and her friends jeered a couple upstairs, whom Vandike’s crew heard in the throes of their passion while the crew was having a presumably quiet barbecue: “Everybody was like, ‘You go, girl,’ cheering them on,” says Vandike. “We never heard anything else after that.” Perhaps they killed themselves, or have been busy hatching a plan to kill Vandike and her friends.
The voluptuous interest in this whole subject shows a lack of awareness of the traditional social skills New Yorkers have developed in order to make apartment living bearable.
One of these skills is knowing what to notice and what not to notice. Tightly crammed in as we are, yet craving privacy, longtime residents learn to cultivate a willful lack of attention to non-lethal-sounding activities in neighboring domiciles, lest we go mad. This is mutually reenforced; if 2A hears 2B having wrestling-match sex at night, and 2B hears 2A screaming about the government at night, each evades the subject with the other in the morning, not out of tact but out of psychological self-preservation. If we were to get up in each other’s business, as if New York were a small town out of Sinclair Lewis, life would quickly become intolerable.
BrickUnderground seems surprised that 89 percent of respondents “said they had never complained to their neighbor, the management or a staff member.” (The Post challengingly says “few are brave enough to complain about it.”) We think the reticence of so many respondents shows good sense, and are pleased to learn it is so widespread.