Dear Ms. Meniscus:Vacation refusal Woman with RA afraid to go away

I have rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia and as a result have a problem sleeping at night. I live in an apartment and have a nice young couple as neighbors. The only problem is that he works late in a restaurant and when he gets home at night they often have sex. If I’m awake I can hear them if they are in their living room and I am in my bedroom. I feel embarrassed by it and sometimes have trouble looking at them when they say hello. Should I tell them I can hear them having raucous sex?

Too Close for Comfort   Dear Too Close for Comfort:

Madame does not think you should tell this nice young couple that you hear them in the midst of their intimate encounters.  It would be terribly embarrassing for them and for you as well.  Things are awkward enough now when you see them, and it’s no wonder. When we think of our neighbors and friends, we picture them clothed and going about everyday life. The problem with over-hearing sex is that now you have an image of them naked (and who knows what else). Since you have trouble looking at them it might help you to remember two things: one is that they are doing something natural, and, two, it certainly is less stressful than listening to people arguing.  What you can try during those times when you are awake and hearing “sounds” is to make some noise yourself. You could turn on the radio or the television, or play music. You could also pretend to be on the telephone, talking louder than you normally do. Hopefully they will hear the noise coming from your side of the wall and realize that they too can be heard. Another solution is to wear earplugs. If all of the above fails, and you are truly a brave and diplomatic soul, then the next time you see them you might respond to “how are you?” with, “There’s been some noise lately and I didn’t sleep as well as usual.” If you can’t say this with a straight face, and say it unaffectedly, all bets are off.  Remember– that is your last ditch effort. And, remember, too, that if you’re having trouble looking at them now, and the little hint about noise doesn’t go well, what then? Madame is hoping that a little soft music will help lull you back to sweet dreams, where the only sounds you hear are birds chirping or raindrops against the windowpanes. As to the awkwardness of seeing this young couple the next day? Picture them wearing airline uniforms, smile, and say hello! –MMM