The next time you feel the need to render yourself psychotic enough to spend a couple thousand bucks on a pile of cloth and foam, go mattress shopping. After 15 years of supporting my favorite sedentary activity not involving chips and salsa, our mattress began to take on the shape of a sadistic landscaping project, my wife and I each occupying our own drainage canal on either side of a steep ridge of no-man’s cushionry. Once I could no longer muster the energy to hike up Mt. Lumbago to kiss my wife goodnight (much to her relief, I’m sure), we knew it was time to shop for a new place to spend as much of our lives as possible.
Our first stop was one of those mattress superstores emblazoned with “72 Months Financing with No Interest!” posters all over the windows. We should have known by the inflatable air dancer flopping around outside what lay in store-a lot of hot air and awkward gyrations.
After convincing the mattress-pusher harassing us that we weren’t interested in the section of the store featuring mattresses that, based on the prices, were apparently stuffed with gold bullion, we were directed to the affordable mattresses- for people who don’t really want to be comfortable. The mattress-pusher encouraged us to lie on the mattresses to get a feel for the softness level we required. I like a mattress that offers plenty of cushion, but enough firmness to give me the leverage to get up and go to the bathroom, which tragically and inevitably happens each morning exactly two minutes before my alarm goes off. I have my alarm set to play a Christian radio station to discourage my temptation to curse loudly when the dreaded time comes. (As if I had the energy to curse at that time of day.)
As I lay on the preferred display mattress thinking about all of the bodies that had lain on the mattress before me and wondering where I would go to burn my clothes afterwards, the mattress-pusher encouraged my wife and me to position ourselves like we do when we sleep. This suggestion presented two problems. First, for me to lie in the middle of a mattress store like I do while sleeping would probably result in my arrest. Let’s just say I don’t exactly “pajama up” at bedtime. Second, my position changes approximately 500 times within the first half hour of my attempt to get to sleep, which would cause me to work myself into a sweat if I didn’t keep our thermostat on permafrost. Neither of these facts dissuaded the mattress-pusher from looming over me and my wife, and insisting that we make ourselves as comfortable as possible-while he watched. At least it wasn’t weird, or anything.
While my wife and I were being ogled in bed by the mattress-pusher, two of our children were busily irritating everyone else in the store by playing tackle football with a cluster of balloons while their older sister (who claims to have a phobia of balloons-or at least uses that as an excuse to scream) accused her sisters of being terrorists. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people who let their children become a nuisance to others in public. Thank goodness ours only do that when we’re trying to nap under the supervision of a desperate mattress salesman-or we’re at the mall, at church, at a restaurant, etc.
When my wife asked about the special financing deal mentioned on the window posters, we were informed that the deal only applies to customers who spend enough to open their own mattress store franchise, have different colored eyes, and were born in 1900. Needless to say, we took our unruly children and the DNA of countless other mattress samplers to another establishment where we went through an almost identical ordeal, this time ending with the actual purchase of a mattress and the death by boredom of at least one child due to a lack of balloons.
When the mattress was delivered a week later, we suddenly discovered that mattresses are much thicker today than they were in the nineties, and we had apparently ordered the wrong size of box springs. As a result, the mattress sat so high on the bed frame that when I lay in bed, I could actually smell my attic and have my toenails trimmed by the ceiling fan. It really wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for the nosebleeds.
After finally getting the box springs sorted out and recovering from altitude sickness, we are thoroughly enjoying our new mattress. It has enough cushion and just the right firmness to offer me the leverage to get up in misery for work each morning. And on those glorious Saturdays when we sleep in, I can just roll over and dream of giant inflatable air dancers offering me 72 months of interest-free financing, with not a balloon in sight.