During the last 200 or so weekends we have all spent together (mostly) unsuccessfully trying to induce alcohol poisoning, a sizable portion of you freaks have been to my apartment building. (Speaking of, someone on Yelp referred to the crowd at Saints & Sinners as a 'freakshow'. What a swordswallower. Yelp is ruining fun, one geek at a time. If you've written more than three Yelp reviews containing the words 'lackluster' or 'tasteless', do yourself a favor and ask the person nearest to you to smack the shit out of you, preferably until a light strand of drool is dangling about three inches off your lower lip. Then tell them I said thanks. And maybe even post a review of the experience while you're at it.)

Anyway, for those of you whose lives haven't officially started yet, my presidential compound is a cross between a frathouse, INS detainment center, rapper hostel and The Carter from New Jack City with medical marijuana and Captain Morgan spiced rum replacing crack rock. It's a place of sights; children playing tag to the sounds of the neighbor's porn videotapes turned way up. It's a place of smells; Cafe Brasil garlic funk wafting through my shower window and getting stuck in my hair. And it is a place of sounds, the most puzzling undoubtedly being a phenomenon that has come to be known as The Building Sneeze. And I am going to hack my head off and fry it lightly in olive oil if I don't find out who is responsible for it, and soon.

The Building Sneeze echoes through our courtyard-cum-driveway a few times a day, and never without remark. Visitors' eyebrows raise. Dogs halt mid-bark. I imitate it immediately and loudly, hoping my mimicry will eventually shame its perpetrator out of sickness. Whoever it is has to have been ill for about three years now, and sometimes I think they're deliberately staying ill just to annoy the neighbors. It sounds like someone is trying to cough a small animal out of his or her throat, which they may possibly have inhaled during the inevitable previous sneeze. It must be a scary thing to see a beloved family member, host of so many life-affirming moments, morph momentarily into an altered beast at the dinner table and then go back to talking about how their day was. What does that do to a child?


It's neither of my sisters. I refuse to believe that anyone with my DNA could make that sound. Except my Uncle Dariush.
It ain't Janet, because you would hear a "DAGNABBIT" or something immediately afterward.
All other tenants are too new for consideration, which leaves:

JESSE THE PARKING LOT BUM KING. Jesse is to the Cafe Brasil parking lot what I am to the neighborhood: its unquestioned overlord and mascot, regardless of what the irritating Arab guy who owns the lot seems to think. At night a sound not unlike sneezing can commonly be heard from the lot, but his is less acute, more phlegmatic, like he's trying to hock up some bad memories. Besides, the Building Sneeze is clearly louder from within the building courtyard.
MRS BROWN. I love her more than lentils at 4am, but she can barely get across her living room, never mind muster the energy to make a sound with that kind of force.
THE PAKISTANI FAMILY DOWNSTAIRS. As time passes, my suspicions weigh ever harder in their direction. But I just can't imagine that kind of sound coming from the husband or the wife, which means, of course, that it could be either of them. They have a teenage son, who is urged to confirm or deny this claim in the comments section.
THE LANDLORD OF THE OTHER BUILDING. A wide, bearded Pakistani man perpetually clad in a Muslim prayer cap and grubby off-white tunic who looks like a wizard attempted to turn Abraham Lincoln into some kind of forest creature but only got it half right. Hitler would probably have had people shot for making less disgusting noises than I've seen this man come up with, but he's just not around the building enough for him to be the sole perpetrator. So I'm stumped.

By definition, a sneeze is a hard thing to track. It's not like I have the time to sit around my courtyard until I catch the culprit in the act. Well, I guess I could do an hour or two a day. Maybe a system of surveillance cameras? I have to do something. If humans backfired like cars, it would sound like the building sneeze. It sounds like one of Jabba The Hut's minions belching at a Mos Eisley concubine for more wine.

It sounds like something's trying to die.


  1. the sneeze part was hilarious and I am confirming that it aint my parents.....lol

  2. HI-LARIOUS (word to Larry S)

    I was leaning towards Cat Lady for a while, but now she is gone and the sneeze lives on...keep investigating please. I need to know now


    Sorry Mahad, im still leaning towards your dad.

    I've seen Jesse sneeze, its alot runnier, not such a sharp sneeze sound as the building sneeze.

  4. um, that's what i said

  5. we have no idea. the inflection of the sneeze suggests something more inhuman than anything


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