~Margo, Uselessly

Margo’s downward spiral continues: she’s given up snarkiness and ill-advised advice (like reducing yourself to the level of the jerk who sex-texts his ex–say that five times fast– or alerting your cousin to the fact that you dislike his fiancee through a petition) and now doesn’t even bother trying to answer a perfectly legitimate question:

Dear Margo: I’ve read numerous advice columns over the years dealing with people overhearing neighbors who are noisy lovers. Well, I’m one of those noisy lovers and I don’t know what to do. I live in a duplex with what I thought were relatively thick walls, but apparently they’re not as thick as I thought! (Got a nice note from my neighbor, but I was still mortified.) I have a boyfriend with whom I have a phenomenal sex life, and unfortunately, we both are quite vocal during our lovemaking. I really don’t know what to do about keeping the noise level down. Moving is not an option. Suggestions? — Princess

Dear Prin: Soundproof tiles on the common walls? Short of wearing muzzles, that’s about all I can think of — and I’m not even sure there is such a thing for humans. Just thinking about this problem and mentioning muzzles, however, makes it a certainty that the next time I see a muzzled dog I will laugh. Good luck. — Margo, remedially

OK, ok, so the writer bragging about her “phenomenal” sex life and calling herself “Princess” don’t exactly make me want to rush to her aid, either. But one advantage of the advice column is that all readers have the opportunity to benefit from the columnist’s answer. For that reason (and to guard against giving dangerously inaccurate advice) when advice columnists don’t have an answer, it is their responsibility (and to their benefit) to seek expert insight. The best columnists have a number of “guest experts” in their back pocket–often doctors, psychologists, and authors–to whom they turn when a tough question comes up.

In this case, a phone call to a landlord or property manager, or even an informal discussion with pretty much anyone who has ever lived in close quarters with others, would have been helpful.

At first glance it just seems like Margo was lazy, but her conclusion about muzzles and dogs implies either a total contempt for the issue at hand, or a total discomfort with it (possibly both)–she’s snickering like a junior high boy. “I’m not even sure there is such a thing for humans”? You don’t have to be into adventurous sex to know that of course there is. And even if you’re not of the mindset to recommend the use of toys and tools that limit noise (who knows–for this couple that might be a perfect solution), it’s unnecessary and inappropriate to compare everyone with intimate relationships and thin walls to dogs in need of muzzles, and to write off their concern for neighborly relations as a joke.

I myself have not checked in with an “expert” either, but just off the top of my head, I think any of the following, while not perfect solutions, would be more productive than Margo’s non-answer:

-responding to the neighbor with a polite-but-funny note and a pair of earplugs
-playing music or turning on the TV while they’re getting it on to mitigate the noise
-um, trying to be quieter, at least some of the time? They might find it adds to the thrill…
-experimenting with different areas of the duplex that might be better buffered or farther way from common walls
-hanging curtains or draperies in the bedroom to absorb some of the sound
-educating themselves about local or neighborhood noise ordinances–if the neighbor gets really pissed off, who is he likely to report to, and could actual consequences result (like the humiliation of being exposed–as it were–to the whole neighborhood at a condo association meeting)? Surely it’s not the same as throwing a wild party that can be heard around the block, but if their neighbor has the power to bring the complaint to a higher authority, they should consider who and what that might be, and how they’d respond in that case.

Also, as a final note, Margo’s sign-off makes no sense. “Margo, remedially.” Remedially? What? I would have written, “Margo, abdicatingly,” “Margo, blushingly,” or as my title suggsts, “Margo, uselessly.” But that’s just me.

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