It started out as an innocent glance; he was getting his mail and she came in the front door, sweaty, accompanied by her large expensive mutt. He noticed the delicate dew on her forehead. She noticed his pleated-front khakis, ironed to a starchy crisp by the Vietnamese lady at the cleaners two blocks away. Each was sordidly intrigued by the other.
Weeks passed. They’d see one another in the elevator, he going to his thankless investment banking job, she in pointy-toed stilettoes and expensive haircut or flipflops that showed off her french pedicure. They exchanged glances, then nods, then meaningless platitudes about the weather or her dog or his newest in the collection of hats he was purchasing to hide his receding hairline. Each imagined the other, naked and vulnerable, encased in the patter of neighbors who saw one another for 30 seconds a few times a week.
Eventually one asked the other over for a drink or a meal or maybe something they both knew was probably something entirely less platonic. This drink or meal led to the entirely less platonic event, and he discovered that she had a port wine birthmark on her left hip. She watched the hair on his forehead march further back as the weeks went on. They’d stay in on Sunday mornings, giggling as his downstairs neighbor or hers would bang on the ceiling with a broomstick when their entertainment got too loud. “I frickin’ hate Celine Dion,” she said one day at the grocery store as the store’s system piped an inoffensive version of “My Heart Will Go On.”
The seasons changed. Their relationship grew stale. She got bored and decided to start boning his next-door neighbor. He only figured it out when he recognized a tell-tale series of moans coming from the condo to the left on a night where she was supposed to be out celebrating the impending nuptuals of some girl she pretended to like. He dumped her, telling her she was just too high-maintenance, and she continued to dally with Condo-to-the-left guy. So one day, he headed down to the local used record store and bought a copy of Celine Dion’s greatest hits. In the evenings when he was pretty sure she’d be next door, he started to play each one in turn, and invited his buddies over for beers or shots of Jaeger, after enough of which they’d sing along with the French-Canadian crooner. It didn’t matter that nobody else in the building wanted to be subjected to his third-grade revenge strategy, nor did the nice couple with the two cats in the house across the street. All that mattered was that she knew he knew who she was doing.
It’s the only explanation I can think of for the continued loud playing of Celine Dion over the last week from one of the condos across the street, sometimes accompanied by raucous singing. Because who actually likes that stuff?