You know it’s a good board game party when…

Somebody called the cops on our party Saturday night. I answered the knocking at the door – which I could easily hear, mind you, and answered promptly – and found a uniformed police officer. He asked if I was aware of the city’s noise ordinance, I said no, he briefly explained it and mentioned that the city is “cracking down”, then I went back inside to get ID so he could fill out the little warning form. According to statute, if there is another call to my residence within 90 days I could be charged up to a $1000 fine to pay the civil services fee.

The policeman seemed slightly sheepish about the process. He said that this isn’t really the kind of the party they usually get called about – for one thing, he pointed out that it was still early. As he was filling out the form he radioed dispatch to the get the time of the complaint: 22:27. That is correct, only 10:27 p.m., on a Saturday night. He said that the policy goes into effect at 10 o’clock but most people who call to complain don’t do it until much later than that on weekends.

It also wasn’t particularly loud. Music was playing but not blasting, nobody was dancing or jumping around to pound on the floor or shake the walls. The birthday boy was standing with me listening for awhile, then went in to ask people to quiet down. One guest responded, “Are you serious? How are we supposed to be more quiet playing board games?” I closed the door behind me and stepped fully onto the landing. I asked the cop for some kind of guideline about noise level, some idea of whether or not the new shushed volume was still going to be a problem. He shrugged slightly and said, “I really can’t answer that. It’s subjective.”

“I just need some kind of baseline. When you were walking up to the building, could you hear us?” I persisted. (I hadn’t had anything to drink, in case you’re picturing me being drunkenly belligerent.)

“No, I couldn’t hear anything from outside. But the point is that within the building sound can travel more and somebody complained, and while we all want to have people over, do it earlier in the day. And while this really isn’t the normal party we get called to break up, I do have to give you an official warning and any future calls to your residence within 90 days could result in a fine up to and including $1000. Now sign here, it just says that I gave you a copy of it. Do you have any questions?”

“No, I understand, thank you,” I said.

“Have a good rest of the night,” he said as he left.

I went back inside to face the guests wondering what was going on, and a few angry, frustrated tears leaked out as I fluttered my official warning in the air. They said bitter things about whoever it was who called the cops, likely the people who had just moved into the apartment below me that same day. (I wasn’t sure they had even moved in enough to spend the night, but someone said they saw them watching tv.) What a great way to start a neighborly relationship. Their large dog barks frequently. Maybe I should complain.

We moved the party next door to my brother’s apartment so that if they called the police again it wouldn’t be the same responsible party.

My own birthday is in that 90 day/$1000 window so I guess if I have a party it won’t be at my place…

August 20, 2007. Words.


  1. ZoeJane replied:

    you can have a birthday party here! And, yes, you should totally complain about their dog and make their life at your complex be hell.

  2. Rabbid Rabit Fan replied:

    Yes, you should complain about the dog after 10PM. Tax dollars at work. Or at least write them a letter about how to properly communicate with neighbors, such as you know, knocking on your door and asking you to keep it down.

  3. Rabbid Rabit Fan replied:

    Another thought… when is your lease up. it sounds like it’s….


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