My neighbor had busted her live-in boyfriend cheating, and for my daughter and her buddy, two bored tweens playing in the hall at the time, the domestic brawl that followed was the best entertainment of the year.
“Alicia is throwing dishes!” Savannah and her buddy ran and reported, as I rounded the corner and headed home toward our apartment. I had caught the two girls eavesdropping.
Alicia lived three doors down and was a single mom like I. We had a polite, but distant relationship. And while I don’t condone affairs, I just so relieved that for once it wasn’t my domestic situation on display. She and her fiancé could have been throwing furniture at one another for all I cared.
It has been a particularly intense year in my household, with my ADHD kid pushing my buttons in every imaginable way: stealing, lying, and defiantly opposing any request or demand. The cursing and screaming that has leaked through my thin walls I feared had labeled me the building’s “Baby Mommy.”
After one particularly bad spat, my snotty next-door neighbor told me “the whole floor” was talking about me. Twenty-six apartments? Doubtful. I interpreted her to mean her and her gossipy friends.
Still, her judgment stung and infuriated me at once. She had two adorable daughters always in matching outfits and a husband who resembled a GQ model. I also knew from the garlic aroma that permeated the hall he cooked dinner nightly.
In defense, I wanted to let snot nose know I heard her lashing into her Anthony Bourdain early one Sunday morning, but was too full of shame for being exposed as the “screaming mom.”
Indeed, the downside of apartment dwelling, is every cough, dog bark, or in my case “f- you” is to be heard and judged. Without yards and fences, there’s no privacy, really, and you know a wee bit too much about your neighbors and vice versa.
Now that it was Alicia in the hot seat, I empathized.
“He swears he didn’t do anything,” Savannah whispered, all too eager to dish.
Alicia had found texts on her fiancé’s iPhone. He always struck me as a player, so I was shocked he could be so stupid. Isn’t delete all evidence Affair 101?
Her fancy engagement ring was the talk at Christmas, so when I spotted her two days later at elevator bank I wanted to show support. Congratulate her for taking the bold move and giving the player the boot or at the very least a fist pump. This is New York, though. I didn’t mutter a word.