I think our WC may be haunted. By James Brown. Either that, or someone in this building has a pet bob cat.
Before you start wondering if I've gone completely 'round the bend, let me explain. As is common in French homes, our toilet is located in a tiny cabine just off our entry hall and living room, while the rest of the "bathroom" is way down the hall. Behind it is our neighbors' apartment.
As I explained in an earlier post, our WC has been problematic for me from the start, not only because it IS separate from the hand-washing facilities, which as an American I will tolerate but will never prefer, but because there's not much you can do, decorating-wise, with such a small space. But there is something else I don't like about it, something I haven't written about before, and it's a problem I will never, ever be able to resolve... short of us actually moving out.
The Problem? I hear some mighty strange sounds when I'm in there. Sounds NOT coming from anywhere else within our own apartment, or from (ahem)... me.
Let's start with the most "normal" noises. In our WC, there is an air shaft for ventilation, and it seems to serve as a conduit or amplifier for noises coming both from outside (i.e. wind, loud cars, pigeons on the roof, etc.) and in (somewhere at least 2 floors below us, someone has a baby). These noises are NOT the real problem, they're just part of city living.
But it gets worse. The common wall between our apartment and our neighbors' apartment must be constructed with Japanese rice paper, because it's THAT thin. When they open their front door, I sometimes think someone is trying to open OURS. Our two front doors are right smack next to each other, and although I have never been in their apartment, I can only assume that they have an entry hall like we do. But apparently, their entire bathroom AND their toilet must be located off that entry hall and DIRECTLY on the other side of our WC wall. How do I know that? Because I can hear them taking showers; I hear the shower door sliding open and closed, and I hear the water running. I can hear them chatting to each other. I've heard teeth being brushed. And I can hear them taking a leak. This originally freaked me out because I realized that if I could hear THEM peeing... they most likely could hear ME. It's bad enough that the WC is so poorly sound-proofed that I can hear members of my own family doing what they need to do in there (who in the hell thought it was a smart idea to put the WC just off the living room?), but I do NOT need to know when my neighbors are relieving themselves.
And even creepier: on at least two occasions in recent weeks... I am pretty sure I have heard my neighbors having sex in (or very, very near) their bathroom. Yeah, it was THAT kind of noise, unmistakable. And way more than I need to know about my neighbors. I mean, I suppose I could be glad that our neighbors are a couple in love, and awww, isn't that sweet, the world needs all the love it can get and all that, but do I need to HEAR the love coming through the toilet wall?
Oh, by the way...
Did I mention that said neighbors happen to be two gay men, one of them named Bruno, a man who showed up at our front door in his bathrobe to introduce himself when we first moved in and who kind of eyed Georges up and down in an impure manner? So you'd better believe I do NOT linger in the WC when I hear them gettin' busy. Suffice to say, I can no longer look them in the eyes on the rare occasions we cross paths in the staircase. Mainly because I am afraid that I will inadvertently blurt out "I CAN HEAR YOU GUYS HAVING SEX". And then we really WOULD have to move because I'd be too embarrassed to live here.
So where do bob cats and James Brown come into this twisted tale? Well, about a week ago, on a quiet day when happily, I heard ABSOLUTELY NOTHING going on in the neighbor's place, I heard a rather terrifying noise coming from the vent shaft in the WC. At first, I thought a lady was being attacked somewhere, it was that sort of harsh scream... but it sounded a little bit far away, not like it was coming from anywhere within the building itself. I took a peek outside our balcony to see if anything bad was going on down at street level, but all appeared calm. I wrote it off as maybe a neighbor watching a slasher movie on TV or something.
Since then, I've heard it almost every time I'm in there, including several times today, and have decided it is absolutely NOT the wind or a baby screeching, and now it sounds to me either like a bob cat's scream (listen to the bob cat here) ... or James Brown singing the "Owwww!" parts in "I Feel Good". If it's James Brown, then the WC is haunted. (Although if you were James Brown in the afterlife, wouldn't you pick somewhere cooler than a Parisian water closet to hang out in?) And if some crazy old "cat lady" in the building is harboring a bob cat (there is a STRONG odor of pipi de chat wafting out into the staircase from one of the apartments somewhere between the 1st and 2nd floors)... then maybe we've got bigger problems than James Brown's ghost.
So... you can see my dilemma, right? Of course, we will not move simply on account of the possibly-haunted, rice-paper-walled, gay-guys-having-sex-next-door toilet room. Overall, we like the rest of the apartment and the neighborhood, and our views are incredible. Strange and unexplainable toilet noises are no reason to move out. At least the toilet WORKS.
But next time we choose a place to live? I'm going to be bugging the place with hidden microphones, listening for any and all disturbing noises before we sign any contracts.
I mean, I like James Brown as much as anyone. Just not in my toilet.