the holidays have ended and I've digested enough homemade snack
mix to construct an imposing and delicious wall of heavily seasoned
Chex cereal along the entire U.S./Mexico border, retailers throughout
the country often place deep discounts on exciting big-ticket items
like televisions, luxury furniture, and septic tanks.
It was during one of these holiday post-mortem sale seasons that
my wife and I noticed our mattress beginning to take on the shape
of a sadistic landscaping project. As we lay in bed, it was like
we each occupied 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 over Mt. Lumbago to kiss my wife goodnight (much to her
relief), we knew it was time to shop for a new mattress.
We first stopped at one of those mattress superstores emblazoned
with "72-Month 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.
Our first task was to convince the mattress dealer assigned to stalk
us that we weren't interested in the section of the store featuring
mattresses that, based on the prices, were stuffed with spun gold.
So he grudgingly directed us to the affordable mattresses-for people
who don't really want to be comfortable. The mattress dealer then
encouraged us to lie on the mattresses to get a feel for the softness
level we required.
As I reluctantly lay on one of the display mattresses, thinking
about all of the bodies that had lain there before me and wondering
where I would go to burn my clothes afterwards, the mattress dealer
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, the mattress dealer was looming
over my wife and me, and insisting that we make ourselves as comfortable
as possible-while he watched. At least it wasn't weird, or anything.
While the mattress dealer was ogling us, our two younger daughters
were busily annoying everyone else in the store by playing tackle
football with a cluster of balloons they had procured from a sales
display. Their older sister (who claims to have a phobia of balloons-or
at least uses that as an excuse to scream) sat on the floor with
her hands over her ears and accused her sisters of being terrorists.
When my wife asked about the special financing mentioned on the
window posters, the mattress dealer informed us that the offer only
applies to customers who spend enough to open their own mattress
store franchise, have different colored eyes, and were born during
the Hoover administration. Needless to say, we took our delinquent
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 our
youngest daughter suffering from blunt-force boredom due to a lack
When the new
mattress was delivered, we discovered that we had ordered the wrong
size of box springs. As a result, the mattress sat so high on the
bed frame that once we had pole-vaulted into bed, we could actually
smell our attic-and have a couples pedicure compliments of 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 give me the
leverage to pry myself out of bed while calling down elaborate curses
upon the alarm clock each morning. And on those glorious days when
we sleep in, I can just roll over and dream of giant inflatable
air dancers offering me 72 months of interest-free financing on
a lifetime supply of snack mix.