I’ll start from the beginning, for this is a story about neighbors. Also about Little Big Planet 2. But, neighbors. Bad neighbors. We’ve all had bad neighbors, and maybe we’ve become bad neighbor as a result. I’ve certainly had bad neighbors, most of them being from my apartment-living days. There was that one time we lived below the constantly stomping/moving furniture upstairs neighbors. There was another time we lived next to a lady with very large dogs that sure liked to make their presence known to the world, every day, all the damn time. And who could forget the time we lived above the asshole with his damn guitar and even worse Saturday night, beer-fueled get-togethers. But none of those individuals could possibly compare to the neighbors we endured prior to us buying a house. We remember it as…
The DUPLEX-EX-EX-EX-ex-ex of HORROR-ROR-ROR-ROR-ror-ror.
Didja get the scary echo there? Scary. Echo. Right there. ↑
So…the Duplex. Of Horror. As with all scary movies, everything started out serenely enough. We found a very nice apartment in a lovely duplex for rent – one apartment below and one apartment above (the one for rent). We met with the landlord who was incredibly nice and willing to work with our schedule to ensure a smooth move-in. We were assured that the folks in the downstairs apartment – a family with two children – were good, non-bothersome people. They were in the process of buying a home themselves and weren’t home all that much, we were promised. The viewing went perfectly, and we happily applied the same day. A few days later, the apartment was ours. Just as our landlord had promised, the move went really well and we settled in nicely.
As a move-in present to ourselves, we picked up Little Big Planet 2. I had not forgotten about the fact that I had yet to complete the original LBP, but I was also plain ol’ excited for LBP2. Bigger levels, more collectibles (and hence, more dress-up, wheee!), loads of creativity oozing out of every single atmospheric detail, and the additions of…be still my beating heart…Sackbots! Near about the cutest and most functional of drone-like companions any Sackperson worth his or her salt would be proud to own! At the time, I wanted nothing more than to immerse myself in LBP’s beautifully tactile and artsy world, all the while honing my mad platforming skills in our nice duplex apartment (that had yet to become one Of Horror).
The best thing about the apartment was that it consisted of two floors. The main living space was on the lower level, while the upper level – a large, renovated attic space – served as a huge bedroom, complete with a walk-in closet/storage space. It was a awesome room, one that we “coverted” to include a small gaming space. And thanks to the almighty renovators for creating the apartment in that manner, because if it hadn’t been for that second floor, we might have actually killed someone. And I’m not even being funny. I’m 99% sure that we actually would have committed an all-out, honest, and very necessary murder.
The family with two kids were our neighbors for a little over three months after we moved in. We moved in the middle of the week, and for the first couple days all was really quiet. The family didn’t seem to be home much, and we thought we were golden.
And, as the host of clichés go, we thought wrong.
The first sign Of Horror occurred that weekend. The family downstairs was at home and the running of the bulls started promptly at 7am. By that I mean the running of the children, back and forth downstairs, from the front door (SLAM!) to the back door (SLAM SLAM!). This went on for a couple hours until one of the adults took the children away.In the afternoon, they all came back, and the running (fuckfuckfuuuuuuuck THE GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING RUNNING!!) started up again. And it kept going until, presumably, the children passed out from sheer exhaustion. Through it all, we just kept thinking “soon they’ll be gone…the landlord said so.”
Also through it all, I attempted to get my LBP2 on. I thoroughly enjoyed the game’s first level, essentially a large tutorial level, called Da Vinci’s Hideout. Though I was but a single player, my remembrances of how to play LBP made it easy enough to obtain as many prize bubbles as possible. Finding my way through, as well as the occasional secret passage, proved light, fun, and not at all stress-worthy. Managing the final boss was a veritable barrel of monkeys. Which was quite appropriate considering that the final boss was a bunch of monkeys. Also, monkeys would have made fine neighbors, better neighbors. God, how I wish I we had had monkeys as neighbors.
The second sign Of Horror occurred one weekday evening when a shouting match broke out between the parents. He accused her of being on her phone all the time and not paying attention to “her kids;” she accused him of various adulterous things and of being too aggressive. Words were yelled at high volume and velocity, more doors were slammed (those poor, poor doors), children were made very upset, and eventually things quieted down. It was utterly disturbing. And through it all, we just kept thinking “soon they’ll be gone…the landlord said so.”
Also through it all, I continued my romp through LBP2. From DaVinci’s palace of reckoning, I headed unheeded to Victoria’s Laboratory, which was more kitchen than not, and which made me so thoroughly happy with all of its food-related punniness. (“The Cakeinator” remains one of my most favorite levels in any platforming game. Because really, there’s little better in life than creating actual cake bombs.) My stay in Victoria’s made me rather hungry for some food fights, and more than once was I distracted by a remarkably strong desire to make my own food weapons to use on the folks downstairs.
The third sign Of Horror, oh…that third sign, occurred about a month into our lease when the cops were called. Oh, we didn’t call them. The mother of the children called them. It was a weekend morning that began with the usual runningrunningrunning, only this time things turned sour between the adults. Shouting started (which had become almost as frequent as the running), which turned into sheer viciousness. She took the kids and attempted to leave by car – he blocked the car in the driveway. Mother and kids went back into the house, with the significant other following, and then the loud call to the police happened. The cops showed up, and the awesome day only got awesomer. This time with more sarcasm. And through it all, we just kept thinking “soon they’ll be gone…the landlord said so.”
Also through it all, I valiantly ventured on with LBP2 where I finally met up with my precious Sackbots in The Factory of a Better Tomorrow. (Where else would Sackbots be, surely?) In them, I tried to find a haven. Wherever I went, they followed. When I lost one, I mourned. When I gained more, I rejoiced. Despite their drone-like responsiveness, the bright, red eyes and boxy complexions warmed my soul. Or so I thought. Or wanted. It wasn’t until I reached the end of the Factory that I realized how broken my spirit had become thanks to the awful people downstairs.
For you see, the third sign Of Horror was not the final sign. It would still be a couple weeks before they moved out completed. And in that time, the family’s distress worsened. The wretchedness of the broken relationship downstairs seeped into the very walls of the house and permeated our own abode. Breathing in that horrible air, I became a miserable bastard myself. I hated that family. I hated the landlord for lying. I hate us for believing the lie. I hated the other neighbors. I hated the neighborhood. I hated it all. In an attempt to save whatever vestiges of happiness I could, I turned back to LBP2, but the damage was already done. Not even the grouplove of the Sackbots, the infinite cosplay for my Sackgirl, or the extreme mirth exuded by the game itself could save me. I turned away from it all.
And that’s why I never completed Little Big Planet 2.