mercredi, septembre 10, 2008

Intimacy and Courtyards

Oops! I’ve been busy taking care of some other stuff these past couple of nights and totally forgot to blog about Wednesday. Well, absolutely nothing of interest happened today, so instead let me relate a late-night episode from earlier in the week.

If you haven’t lived in an 18th or 19th-century European apartment block, especially those of the Parisian Hausmann style, there are some special acoustic characteristics that need to be explained. You see, most of these apartment buildings are about six stories high and take some sort of square or triangular shape with a hole in the middle. The apartments run right along the street (usually with storefronts on the ground floor), then extend away from the street, then parallel to the street, and then return back to the street to make a square or some other closed shape. This creates a cour (courtyard) in the center of the structure, which is often just a paved parking lot / trash storage area, but can sometimes also be filled with gardens and benches and so on. In most downtown urban European centers, this is your only option when you want to be “outdoors” but also have some sense of privacy or being away from the city.

Nonetheless, this privacy is very partial, and some might say it’s entirely illusory. You see, a 6-storey courtyard is also an echo chamber, and it’s an echo chamber over which the windows of almost every apartment open. Most apartment windows here are double-glazed, which isolates sound as well as cold weather; but when you open your window onto the cour, almost any noise that you make in your apartment bounces around and into the apartments of anybody else with an open window. So this means that, during warmer months, you will hear a couple fighting, a baby crying, a couple of girls engaging in truly inane relationship-chatter, a couple of boys engage in truly repellent sexual-conquest-chatter, and an uncomfortable conversation about someone’s herpes test results.

So, it was only a matter of time until, one night, I hear the following noise:


Hmm. Well, there are a lot of pigeons that roost on one of the nearby windowsills, so maybe two of them are fighting or something.


Wow, that’s one distressed pigeon.


OK, there’s no way that a pigeon could make that sound. Is a human making that sound?

“Aie! Ngunh! Eeeah!”

Oh, I get it. Sex. Well, this woman certainly has a unique way of expressing her pleasure. As her cries and grunts became more and more regular and intense, I found it increasingly absurd and surreal. It’s as if she was making a concerted effort to produce the most comical noises possible. As if you had taken a porno flick and replaced the sound with 60’s era slapstick comedy sound effects: “boink!” “doinggg!” “wahwahwahWAHHHH” “zing”. I imagined that the whole scene looked something out of those campy Batman shows from the 1960s, with bubbles using “action text” fonts flashing on the screen: “Pow!” “Yoink!” “Slam!” “Shloop!” “Splat!” “Glorp!” “Brrrrah!” and so on. I was finding this frankly hilarious.

I was reminded of a truism I’ve heard several times that everyone else’s sex looks gross and/or silly to one’s eyes. I’m sure there are exceptions (voyeurs, amateur porn, etc) but still, there’s nothing like being an unwilling witness to other people’s sex to show just how bizarre and absurd our sexual activities can be when viewed (or heard) from outside the scene of action. I’m sure they were convinced that they were having a hot, sexy time.

Nonetheless, I was trying to concentrate on something, and it was still a bit too warm to close my windows, so my patience was going to wear thin pretty soon. Sure, I was glad that this woman was getting her box rattled, but I hope that this doesn’t last all ni—


Oh. Well, apparently this is a heterosexual couple and, also apparently, the guy just off. That was awfully quick. In fact, upon checking the time on my laptop, I realize that the whole episode took 3 minutes. Certainly they’re not done, yet. It’s only been 3 minutes and she audibly hadn’t gotten to her “final destination.” I brace myself for Round 2.


Wow. Really? That’s it? I mean, I’m glad to return to my work undisturbed, but…damn, girl, you need to push him out of bed and reach for the vibrator.

5 commentaires:

Humingway a dit…

This is the most completely hilarious thing I've ever read!! And it reminds me of that CRAPS paper idea we had from years ago (technical difficulties with a PowerPoint video playback, with confusingly suggestive noises on the soundtrack).

LMGM a dit…

HA. I had totally forgotten about that. Another option is that I present a CRAPS paper by Skype and just claim that the "visual" part of my presentation isn't working. Either way, we need to make this happen.

Humingway a dit…

That is also brilliant! The timing might be tricky if you actually do it remotely, but it's such a great idea...

Kristy a dit…

Don't worry about her - she was only humoring him to begin with. Now she gets to go buy whatever it was she was bartering the sex for.

LMGM a dit…

HA, you cynic. Now come over here and give me a prada, kiss.