Once upon a (display) mattress
When 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 of balloons.
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.
Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org.