Cole Porter was wrong when he penned Too Darned Hot, his catchy musical explanation for heat-wave-induced apathy. Like every other good Canadian worth her KY, I happen to know that summer is for lovers. How do I know this? Cuz sound travels. Humidity is Mother Nature's megaphone.Warmer weather means the neighbours' windows are wiiiide open, which means there's an increase in aural action even if you're not getting any yourself. Overheard sex is awesome - unless, of course, you're a too recent graduate of the University of Carnal Bitterness. (The term Distance Education never hurt so bad, but it'll pass.) I happen to love listening in on other people's trysts, mostly because people say the darndest things in bed.
True, we could probably all use a sexual thesaurus. Most of us tend to be extremely upbeat, if rather unoriginal, as in: "Oh, oh, oh, yeah, yeah!" or consumed by a sudden, deep religious fervour: "Christ! Oh, Jesus! Oh, God!!!!" But every so often you come across a truly original outcry. Role-players offer the best eavesdropping material. If you're not turned on by what you hear, you'll at least have a good hard laugh when "Officer Bob" comes at last (during a bomb threat) or the woman next door screams, "Lassie, come home!" as she peaks. And, hey, that couple who seem to hate each other's guts? They tend to be the same people screaming, "You're sooo good, baby!" "You're so huge!" "I love your tits!" a few hours later. You've endured their fights - now savour their fucks.
The worst people to overhear are the ones I call the Humiliators. OK, so it might make them wet, but who really wants to hear "You little piece of shit! You can't get me off, can you? Fuck me, you loser!" (and variations on same) over and over at 3 o'clock in the morning? Nothing could be more depressing. Besides, if you're alone you're probably lying there thinking about your performance at work in similar terms, or labouring through the little wank that wouldn't.
I once lived in a basement apartment beneath a woman I'd (unfairly perhaps) dubbed the Nympho. Not only was she enjoying her boyfriend's tool on a nightly basis, but, as a result of a bad drywall job, I'd also sussed that she was screwing his best friend by day. How did I come to such a brilliant conclusion? Well, because, nearing climax, the illicit lovers happened to shout variations on the following:
"What we're doing is so - uhnn uhnn - wrong." "I know - uhnn uhnn - we should tell him - unhh, uhnn. OH YEAH!" "Oh, you're his best friend, how can I? Oh, we're so bad!" etc.
The best thing about living in an apartment building is bumping into your stud-muffin neighbours in the hallway the morning after an all-night marathon. Although it may be tempting, you'll want to refrain from addressing them by their boudoir names.
I do thank every noisy couplet I've ever overheard in adulthood. Each and every one of you has contributed to my sex life in your own unique way. Now that I know what sexy sex sounds like, I'm, shall we say, better equipped to enhance the eavesdropping pleasures of my neighbours.
For your benefit, I've collected a few gems from my The Walls Have Ears research project:
1. Be sure to take the Lord's name in vain if: (a) your lover is truly rocking every inch of your thang; and (b) if you want said lover - and everyone within hearing range - to believe you are having the best-ever sex of your life. Maybe you're not, and maybe you are. If you are, I wanna hear you tell it on Mount O, baby. A conventional technique, but one that says it all.
2. The genetic chasm between humans and our animal friends isn't quite as wide as some of us might hope. What with all the grunting, woofing, whinnying and, yes, meowing we so-called homo sapiens do during sex, it's a wonder we can face each other on the street.
3. As mentioned, some couples play elaborate verbal games. Complex role-playing isn't reserved for bored swingers from Mississauga. So call your lover something more exotic than baby once in a while, would ya?
Even if the upstairs neighbour seems to have overdosed on Viagra of late and chronically disturbs your precious sleep, try a little tenderness. In the lusty little lottery called Life, someone's always getting some while someone else isn't. What goes around comes around. Stay cheerful: next week, it could be you they're hearing at top (or bottom) volume. What'll the neighbours think? If you do it right, they'll think you're the hottest lover in town. This summer, love thy neighbours, baby.
Marnie Woodrow is a Toronto writer and shameless eavesdropper.