A few days ago I promised to write about my favorite fighting couple, my downstairs neighbors when I moved into my first apartment in Middletown, NJ. I still remember the name on their mailbox: Barlog. The name always reminded me of the Balrog in The Lord of the Rings, and Gandalf’s bold stand to protect the fellowship of the ring when he shouted, “You shall not pass!” But I digress.
I was twenty-one years old, had just graduated from college, and began my first job at Bell Labs in West Long Branch, NJ, an overflow site from their much larger but not large enough Holmdel location. The relocation office helped me find a small, affordable apartment just a few miles away, and I moved in to begin my young adult life.
These were the only neighbors I actually met there. They were nice enough at first. But the paper-thin walls and floors of the apartment soon revealed another side. They absolutely, positively hated each other. Now, if I stepped a little too heavily in my living room, they would pound a broom handle on the ceiling to let me know I was too noisy However, when the bell rung and they starting going at it, I could clearly hear every insult and obscenity they would fling at each other. I could also hear the sound of plates and pots and pans being thrown when the conflict escalated.
The one day that sticks in my mind was a fifteen-round main event one Saturday. It started early. I was up anyway, and went out for a run. When I returned an hour later from a longer than usual run, the arguing was still going on. Louder and louder, dish after dish, the back door flew open, slammed shut and the husband roared off in his car, and his wife stood outside screaming at him to never, ever return. Inside, she wailed and lamented at her plight. But only for a few moments. Just like that, his car roared back back around the corner, he stormed back into the house, slammed the door again, and they picked up right where they had left off. I left, probably to go practice trumpet at church or something. When I returned, it was quiet. Maybe they were exhausted. Maybe a TKO. I never found out.
I didn’t fulfill my year long lease there. I found another place to rent in Neptune with a friend of mind from church. I don’t miss them but I’ll never forget this couple who certainly were committed to a violent and abusive marriage.