The ten year old boy on the other side of my wall is going strong. How many versions of "Chopsticks" can he come up with? How many keys can it be played in? Should it be played slowly for drama or uptempo to get the feet tapping?
Their family moved in two years ago and they have been delightful neighbors. Even though their lease states they will not own musical instruments, I was happy to see the piano roll off the moving truck. I remember piano lessons growing up and think every home should have one. The father is a preacher at a Korean church downtown, the wife stays at home with her two children and they were thoughtful enough to give Pixie a birthday present for the past two years. Roy, their son, began learning piano when they moved in and I've enjoyed hearing him plunking away at familiar songs. He's progressed quite a bit. But now he's reached the "Chopsticks" phase.
It started on Saturday. I was looking forward to my afternoon nap. I had four hours of sleep the night before and was falling over by noon. Finally my baby fell asleep in her crib. stuck in his earplugs and went into radio silence. I adjusted my pregnant self on the body pillow and exhaled, ready to nap away a few hours of the afternoon. But there it was - streaming through the wall behind my bed. I admit, for the first few minutes I thought it was quaint and waited for sleep to overpower the notes. Half an hour later I began worrying. After every rendition Roy would pause dramatically and I would allow my eyes to close - only to jerk awake when the song began again in some new mutant version. I lay there for a full hour and a half with clenched fists, staring at the ceiling while Roy played on and on. Finally, my baby woke and I clawed my way out of bed.
I was keenly aware of Roy's return from school today - the Chopsticks torture began exactly at 3:30. He only went for an hour but I was gouging my eardrums in agony. As Apartment Manager, it would be easy for me to convince the management company to evict this dear family. After all, we've had quite a few complaints in the past about the noise coming from that apartment. In the past I've staunchly defended them since I don't believe anyone has the right to complain about the normal sounds of children. But does Chopsticks fall under this protective umbrella? Is it a stock childhood soundtrack or does fit into the "my neighbors eat live babies" category of tenant misdeeds? After only three days of Chopsticks torture, I vote the latter.
Even if I wanted to say something to the parents, I don't know if it would help. They are both very kind but I often wonder how much English they understand. Whenever I speak to them they smile and nod while repeating "okay, okay" gently. But after a few obvious miscommunications I can tell they aren't getting much of my speedy dialog. I think if I told the mom that Chopsticks was making my ears bleed she'd just smile and offer me weird candy, her response to most of my attempts at conversation. I can only imagine how foolish I would look trying to mime the problem.
I've gotten delusional in my late pregnancy and often think I hear the phone ringing, someone knocking at the door or my baby crying when I lie down to rest. And now I have to add a never-ending Chopsticks playing in my brain. It's too much I tell you. Something must be done.