It’s nice to know that after fourteen years of marriage Laurel can still get me breathing heavily in our bedroom. Also, on the stairs leading down from our bedroom…in the living room…and in the guest bedroom way at the other end of the house. Yes, that was quite an encounter between Laurel and me after we torn off the sheets and got all sweaty with a mattress. Next time, though, I’m hoping that we encounter each other on a mattress, rather than on other sides of a mattress.
For we have begun the quadrennial (approximately) ritual of finding a better mattress for my beloved Princess, she who clearly is related to the fabled royalty described by Hans Christian Andersen in his “Princess and the Pea.” That princess was so sensitive she couldn’t sleep with a pea under twenty mattresses and twenty eider-down beds on top of the mattresses. We have not conducted this experiment with Laurel, but she clearly is far more acutely aware of mattressly imperfections than her bed partner, who could be featured in a “Prince and the Anvil” complement to Andersen’s story.
I can sleep comfortably on almost anything. I also don’t have a bad back, as Laurel does. But my slumbering ability isn’t entirely due to nature, for I also nurture my inherent sleeping talent through regular napping practice. On the days that I am able, I find 45 minutes or so to hone my sleeping skills on another playing field—a couch, futon, even the floor.
Laurel doesn’t like to take naps, since she has this strange female compulsion to perform as many productive tasks as possible during every 24 hours. My goal, pretty much, is just the opposite. To put it somewhat technically (which helps make me sound less lazy), I seek to optimize my life satisfaction by deriving the maximum happiness-inducing inputs via a minimal expenditure of mental and physical outputs. In other words, I want to sit in my highchair and have Mother Happiness feed me with a spoon.
At times, though, I get backed into a corner and have to actually accomplish something on Laurel’s “honeydo” list. Which, recently, has involved new mattress-searching. The quest began in an experimental fashion, with us laboriously hauling our current king mattress into the guest bedroom, and laboriously hauling back the old king mattress that I had brought with me into our marriage. Since the old mattress is firmer than the new mattress, and after a few nights Laurel was convinced that she felt fewer peas under it, this led to the dreaded (for me) Even Newer Mattress Search—which I have endured three or four times in our fourteen years of wedded bliss (subtracting the time spent searching for mattresses, let’s make that more like 13.95 years).
Laurel began her campaign for a new mattress somewhere around Valentine’s Day. I’m pretty sure of that date, because I remember her showing me jewelry store advertising inserts in the newspaper and saying, “You sure are lucky that I’m not one of those women who wants her husband to buy her an expensive ring every year. Can you believe that this small diamond ring costs X?” (X, I came to learn, being the price of the king mattress in the store that she had surreptitiously visited that day). After a few days of this I had been softened up sufficiently for Laurel to hit me with the closer. After we woke one morning on my old mattress, she turned to me and said, “Do you realize that lots of your ex-wife’s dried skin cells are permeating this mattress?” OK, that did it. I started mattress shopping immediately.
Over the Internet, naturally. Laurel did the scout work in actual stores, as I have a serious aversion (1) to shopping in stores in general, and (2) to mattress shopping in stores in particular. I was pleased to see that the author of a Slate article, “Going to the Mattresses,” asks “Is there a more maddening industry?” We soon realized the truth of what he spake: “Mattress manufacturers rename identical products for each different retail store. Different labels, exact same guts. Why? Obfuscation. It’s hard to shop for the lowest price when you can’t compare apples to apples.”
Understand, we like Commercial Street’s Furniture Row Outlet. We even bought a mattress there a few weeks ago. And then we unbought it the next day, which is a story for another posting. But, really… We picked up a brochure at this store describing two kinds of Simmons Beautyrest mattresses. The “World Class” Noorderkerk line, and the “Ultra Premium” Westerkerk line. When I got home and consulted Google I learned that Noorderkerk and Westerkerk are indeed names, of places in Amsterdam, but not of mattresses. These are made-up monikers that the Furniture Row Outlet uses to make it difficult to determine which Simmons mattress you are buying, or thinking of buying. The names have a nice European flair, but no reality beyond the brochure.
Well, this is only part of the Hines’ mattress story, but the rest will have to be told another day. I sure hope it has a happy ending. At the moment the Princess is feeling peas under the 10 day-old Spring Air mattress that we ended up buying at Sleep Country. Sleep Country must have not a little experience with sensitive Princesses, as they require that a mattress be kept for 30 days before it is exchanged. So Princess Laurel is waiting out the next 20 days, after which I suspect there will be some more heavy breathing going on in our bedroom. But, thankfully, this will be not from us, but from the Sleep Country moving men.