Dear Aunty Social: Sleepless in Seattle


I live in a densely populated luxury high-rise apartment building in a busy downtown neighborhood that has a diverse mix of residents. I have lived here for four years and have never really had many issues, until recently. My next-door neighbor works in the medical field that at times has very late or early hours associated with it. I also work in a field that has odd hours, so I am empathetic. My issue is, she has a new boyfriend she is intimate with anywhere between 2 and 4 a.m. I am a light sleeper and get awakened by their sessions together. I can hear her voice and, at times, jostling of furniture. I have thought about telling the building management, but it would be obvious that the complaint would have come from me, and I don’t want that. I also don’t want to cause embarrassment to either of us. How can I address this delicately, without causing embarrassment, or must I suck it up and suffer?

—Sleepless in Seattle


Dear Sexless in Seattle,

I want you to know I really hear you and thankfully not your neighbors.  I too lived in several luxury high-rises for many years and as with most newer apartment buildings, while they may be referred to as luxury, the construction of the damn places are often undeserving of said adjective. 

The last non-luxury, luxury apartment I lived in was a very large rental building with 840 units.  There were several common areas including a coffee room where sleepy, grumpy millennials would line up with their neighbors while nary a “hello” was ever spoken to get free Starbuck’s coffee and tea from 5A – Noon.  No, there was no Barista and no venti, double mocha latte half-caf with an extra shot, one Splenda, and one Sweet n’ Low.   You would think by its very nature, the coffee room would elicit friendly conversation, however; you would be wrong because it’s mostly filled with an angst-ridden generation of folks who are annoyed that they have to stop texting for a moment in order to remove a cup from the stack and press the start button all by their entitled selves.

The only sound one would hear or shall I say be assaulted by was from two toddlers who along with their father took over the coffee room and used it as their second family room on a daily basis. The little brats, I mean boys, played the game of “THIS MIIIIIINNNNNEEEE” at an ear-piercing level accompanied by the blaring noise of cartoons coming from the coffee room television.  Perhaps the father gave the children coffee as evidenced by their, shall we say, physicality.  I don’t really think they needed it, however; I reserved judgement as I had no proof.

Since I am me and exemplify proper behavior and always abide by the rules of etiquette, it’s my personal duty to say good morning and smile at everyone I encounter, forcing the zombies to attempt eye contact and mumble something that resembles “good morning” while thinking, please don’t talk to me.  I always walked away feeling quite satisfied to set such an important example of proper manners as well as modeling good neighborly behavior.

And then there was the, every building has one, the coffee room cray-cray lady.  The cray cray lady would simply corner people and spew on about something or other.  One time I had a momentary thought that perhaps I should have compassion for her and made the very disturbing decision to ask Lady Cray Cray,“How are you?”  She said, “Let me ask you something?” Against my better judgement, I said “Certainly.” She pointed to her very gray sweatpants, not to be mistaken with athleisurewear, and said, “See this writing?” I said, “No. I’m sorry. I don’t see any writing.”  She said, “Take off your sunglasses.”  I took off my very expensive sunglasses and again said, “I’m sorry, I don’t see any writing.”  She said, “Are you color blind?” I said, “No.”  She asked for the third time, “You don’t see this writing?”  Again, I said, “No, but I’m sure it’s there and I have to go now.”  She said, “Some people see it, some people don’t” and laughed to her cray cray self loud enough that even some of the non-caffeinated zombies in line, as well as the arguing toddlers, turned to look at her.

Any hot mess, I wear sunglasses inside and if you want to know why I would tell you it’s because I am light sensitive and I don’t like fluorescent lighting but the truth is a lady of a certain stature should not be seen in public before the application of her caviar-cucumber eye mask nor without make-up.

So Suck-it-up in Seattle, I would suggest for you to verify that the sounds you are hearing are actually the sounds of intimacy.  You may be mistaken. Moaning can also be an indication that your neighbors are in pain, even if they are in the medical profession.  I suggest you stand in the hallway with your ear pressed to the door and when the volume and frequency of the sounds increase, it is your duty to pound on the door as hard as you can and inquire loudly, “Are you okay in there?”  I am confident you will feel like a hero as well as relieved when your neighbor yells back through the closed doorway, “What the F*ck do you want?”

Salacious in Seattle, thank you for writing. Please follow my sagacious advice and keep me abreast of your findings. If all else fails, either coordinate the timing of your intimacy with that of your neighbor, purchase some earbuds or move into a condo building.


Aunty Social

Editor’s note: Dear Aunty Social is masterfully written by Shelley Brown, whose career as an advice columnist continues to blossom, as she offers comfort and a reality check with unparalleled candor. Her unique ability to read between the lines and respond with, wit, wisdom, and radical in-your-face honesty will continue to win her the loyalty of millions of fans worldwide. Click here to enjoy your favorite Aunty’s entire archives of tastefully delivered bad advice.


Aunty Social
Aunty Social
Modern life can be hideously complicated which is why I, the sassy, irreverent Aunty Social is here to help. From heartbreaking relationship issues to table manners to nosey neighbors, I always do my very best to deliver brutally blunt, in your face, no-nonsense bad advice with the wit and wisdom of a lady thrice my (none of your business) age. I'm ready and willing to solve your problems without beating around the bush. Need some bad advice? – Just click on my email icon below to send me your problems and leave your cares behind! And then come back and visit me now and then because who knows? –I might actually get around to answering my emails. Please be patient, because what I lack in speed, I make up for in gibberish.

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  1. My first college apartment was just a bit off campus, and we always laughed that we weren’t paying rent, we were paying off the building inspector so that he wouldn’t have the place torn dorn. We were in a six unit building, two on each floor. It was in Madison, WI and we never had to turn the heat on. It was a steam heated place and all the heat got trapped at our level. The neighbors above us, well, let’s just say that we had various theories about what went on up there – from bowling tournaments, sumo wrestling, furniture juggling, and a wild animal reserve – and it seemed the most strenuous of those activities were always post-midnight. I also remember that my roommates and I were a more judgmental than we are now…I’m wincing now at the memories of some of the places that we allowed ourselves to live in. We were not as empathetic as you, we never had the guts to ask them if they were “alright in there.” Several times we assumed that things had not ended well, only to see our neighbors smiling and blissful the next day. College is for getting an education. We all learned a lot that year. Thank you for dredging up these memories… I guess.

    • Tom, how in the world did you get any sleep or actually get an education amid the raacous! Gosh, thank for inviting that word to my mind. It’s not one I get to use often. I guess back then, sleep was overrated. Thank you for reading and sharing your snapshot.

  2. Shelley, in a word, FABULOUS! Ok 2 words, HILARIOUS!
    I loved your approach and only wished I’d had that advice 34 years ago in my first apartment! As I endured the same thing, with one exception this was no luxury apartment and the design of the units were 4, 2 upper, 2 lower in mirror layouts… wait for it… yes, our headboards were in either side of the same wall! I felt like I was in the bed with them!!!!
    You are absolutely gifted in your delivery, thank you for the laugh out loud morning walk down memory lane!
    You’ve got it all over Ann Landers!

  3. Shelley — Boy, did this bring up bad memories and not of the intimacy kind. Lesson learned: don’t ever buy into a condo with only two units – and with the second unit above you. I was young and stupid. ‘nough said.

    Laughing out loud with the cray cray woman. If you ever want to scare somebody, ask them if they see writing on your nondescript sweat pants. Oy… Thanks, I needed that.

    • OMG! Thankfully I was only a renter but I certainly had my share of lessons. I’m sorry you bought a condo. That’s a bit rougher. Jeff, the cray cray woman was for real and you are right, great way to scare someone. Thanks for reading and for commenting.

    • Oh Sherry I am so happy to see your comment. I really admire your writing and I’m just thrilled you read the article and toold the time to comment! This is the 3rd column. You are inpsiring me to keep going!

  4. Oh, laughing out loud over here, Shelley! Thank you, Auntie Social for bringing the hilarity! I vote with Maureen Wixon-that this could become a weekly column-only if that doesn’t turn you into a Cray Cray lady waiting for insights, ideas, sassy fras and decaf coffee with a heart-shaped milk foam design on top… 🙂 Well, even if it does that would still be delightful…I think.