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A Bedtime Story

by Stephen Lautens


August 18, 2000

I've been having trouble in bed lately.

No, don't go sending me to your doctor for viagra or monkey glands, and oysters aren't going to do me much good either.

You see, the trouble actually is my bed.

Eighteen years ago I graduated from university and took my first full-time job in another city. Before I left I decided to buy a queen-sized bed for my new adult bachelor life. I had hoped never to have to answer the question: "What's a nice boy like you doing with a queen-sized bed?" Unfortunately my mother took one last teary look in the van before I pulled away from the curb. Her tears dried instantly as I drove off to whatever Sodom and/or Gomorrah was my final destination.

I was of course young and full of unrealistic expectations. I fully expected to attend a ceremony at the Playboy Mansion later that year to have my mattress bronzed and presented to Hef.

Like I said, I was young and unrealistic. In fact I was so unrealistic that eighteen years later I was still sleeping on the same mattress.

Last summer my wife and I had to buy a new mattress for the cottage. Not only were we a little queasy about sleeping on the one left behind by the previous owners, every time you laid down on it, it gave off a smell like BBQ potato chips. Our neighbour later confirmed it had been salvaged when the previous owner's house had burned down.

So we bought a new mattress for the cottage. Bad mistake. After sleeping on it the mattress at home felt like it was full of door knobs. I had even become used to sleeping in the shape of an 'S' to avoid the larger springs and lumps, but after eighteen years I had to admit there were now more lumps than mattress under me.

So off we went to shop for a new mattress.

Bed stores are like car dealerships. The big, expensive models are right up front, decorated and made up under soft lighting. The cheaper mattresses are shoved against the back wall, lit up by lights that used to sit on top of the Berlin Wall. There are no expensive sheets or fluffy pillows. These are mattresses that look like they should be adorning the floors of youth hostels or the walls of looney bins.

Whatever it was, it worked. We moved into the middle of the mattress lot and found a mis-matched set that only cost six times what my old one had.

Then we talked extras. On the counter was a giant picture of a dust mite, and they asked if we wanted "bio-spray" to kill the little beggars. This is the mattress equivalent of car undercoating.

Finally we got it home and set up. It fit the old bed frame perfectly, except for one thing. We didn't measure it for height. Who measures a mattress for height? Our new super-fluffy mattress means when we go to sleep, we're now four feet off the ground. I can't reach the box of tissues on the floor without a safety harness. At least I can turn off the light by just reaching up and unscrewing the bulb in the ceiling.

And my love life? Who can think of fooling around when the air's so thin up here?


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