There’s a really smelly dude living in the flat beneath us. Since most residences in the UK don’t come fitted with air conditioning, (only recently has global warming prompted the stocking of portable AC units onto store shelves), the main method of pushing a cool breeze through your abode is to do it with nature: open your windows. Now, this introduces all sorts of smells into an otherwise controlled personal environment. We have Asian/Indian neighbours on either side of our flat, so clearly, we’re going to smell ethnic spices frequently. And as a vegetarian, smelling your neighbours frying up bacon or steak or worse yet, liver and onions, can be nearly nauseating, but we cope. By far the worst smell comes wafting up from our downstairs stink factory… we call him Mister Man, mostly because we never knew his name, but now because we just can’t be bothered to remember what it really is when we sort the mail dump in the foyer. Mister Man goes away for sometimes several days at a time and it’s during those vacancies that we have true freedom in what windows we open and when. You see, Mister Man must smoke a carton a day with the fog that wisps it’s way up through our windows. It’s terrible. When he comes home to open his flat up for fresh air, we have to close ours for the same reason. It sucks. Such is life in a land new to air conditioning. Such is flat life in general.
Mister Man is generally quiet, save for the occasional outburst when he gets a new CD. He knows he lives in a flat with occupants above, below and on both sides of him, yet the odd hour of cranking it to eleven happens. Infrequently, (thankfully), but it happens. I’ve been able to name what he’s playing based on what persevering frequencies make it through the concrete floor, only to check my accuracy with an ear to the carpet. I’ve not been wrong yet.
After what seemed like a longer than average journey away, Mister Man came home the other day, fired up an intense session of chain smoking with the windows open and continued through his day in relative silence. Until… somewhere around midnight, the Mister Man must’ve gotten thoroughly shit-faced and cranked up his tunes. I’ve heard him wail away to a variety of the mid-nineties greatest grunge movement bands, (Pearl Jam, Nirvana, etc… I’d actually respect him more if he’d throw on some Melvins or scream “Touch me I’m sick!” along with Mark Arm), but in his pickled state, he put on Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and sang. And wailed. And sang some more. I was laughing with my head pressed against the carpet, but sat up and thought about Mister Man. He may be a stinky creep, but I kinda felt bad for him. I think we’ve only seen a girl around for a brief spell, and it almost seemed more like someone like a sister visiting. He’s got a crappy car, an ageing motorcycle and lives a fairly solitary life. Maybe he’s happy like that‚Äì but honestly, the way he sang along with ‘Creep’ the other night made me just a little sad for him.
Not sad enough to want to do anything about it, (won’t be baking him cookies or anything), but it makes me hope he finds a stinky little Miss to be his Mrs. Man. (I just hope she comes with an air conditioner for their flat…)
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