Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Concrete Vs. Cotton

Every time I see that commercial on TV for the bed that has dual controls that allow you to make one side of it as hard as a slab of concrete and the other as soft as a giant cotton ball, I'm tempted to pick up the phone and dial the toll-free number.

"That's it!" my husband always says, his eyes widening as he stares at the commercial. "That's exactly what we need!"

Although I tend to agree with him, the fact that the announcer talks about "easy" payments for the next 20 years always makes me hesitate to call.

One of my friends recently bought one of the dual-control beds. She said that the bed has a dial on each side that you're supposed to adjust to the appropriate "number" for your own personal comfort level. She said her husband found his number in two minutes flat. She, however, is up to number 1,196 and still hasn't found hers.

"I feel like Goldilocks!" she complained to me just the other day. "No matter which number I try, it's too hard, too soft or just too darned uncomfortable. I'm losing sleep trying to find my (insert any curse word here) number!"

My husband and I have spent most of our marriage trying to find a mattress we both like. So far, we haven't even come close. That's because he thinks a proper mattress should feel as if you're lying on the kitchen table. I, on the other hand, like to sink so far into a mattress, only my nose is visible.

The first year we were married, when money really was tight, we bought a cheap foam mattress that was only about two inches thick. It was so lightweight, we were afraid to keep the bedroom windows open because a strong breeze would have blown it off the bed.

Finally, after months of saving our pennies, we splurged on an actual brand-name mattress and box spring. My husband loved the new mattress, but I thought it was about as comfortable as sleeping out on the sidewalk. Still, after all the money we'd paid for it, I convinced myself I would learn to like it.

I never did. In fact, every night that I slept (and I use to term loosely) on that mattress, I grew to dislike it more and more. For one thing, it had no "give" to it. An elephant could have tap-danced across it and not even made a dent in the darned thing.

And the worst part was that the mattress had come with something like a 100-year warranty, which meant it probably was indestructible. So I knew that unless a hand grenade accidentally landed on it, I was going to be stuck with it for life.

I tried to compensate by buying a soft, down-filled pillow, so at least my head would be surrounded by comfort, but that didn't help my hips or back. I still woke up every morning feeling as if I'd been sleeping in brick underwear.

Finally, after about six months of suffering, I came up with what I thought was a creative, economical solution...I'd buy a featherbed and place it on top of the mattress.

The only featherbed I could afford was pretty cheap, but still, I loved it. It was so thick and fluffy, I felt as if I were sleeping on a cloud. And it made the bed so high, I nearly had to use a stepladder to climb into it.

Not surprisingly, my husband was less than impressed with my purchase. "I feel like I'm being swallowed by a giant duck!" he complained. "And I sink so far down in the feathers, I keep having nightmares that I'm in quicksand!"

Unfortunately, I learned all too quickly that cheap featherbeds are made of thin cloth that eventually allows the feathers to work their way through. After a few weeks, the little points on the tips of the feathers begin to stab me in some pretty painful places. And I usually awoke with a crop of feathers sticking out of my pajamas. My husband and I began to look like two overgrown chickens.

"I've had it!" he finally complained one morning. "If I find one more feather in my chest hair, I'm going to burn the featherbed!"

Just as I was about to resign myself to the fact that I was doomed to spend the rest of my life sleeping on a concrete slab (a.k.a. our mattress) my mother came to my rescue. For Christmas she bought us a high-quality, triple-thick featherbed that was guaranteed not to molt. I was thrilled. Of course, my husband didn't share my enthusiasm.

"Men like to sleep on a nice solid mattress," he said. "The word 'fluffy' isn't part of our vocabulary."

"Well, I happen to like fluffy," I said. "And the fluffier, the better!"

I detected a sudden, evil gleam in his eyes. I soon found out why.

He began going to bed earlier every night so he could get there ahead of me. Then, with a sinister cackle, he'd roll like a steamroller all over the bed until the feathers were compressed to about the thickness of a flapjack.

All I can say is that this ongoing concrete-versus-puffy mattress war of ours nearly has convinced me to take out a second mortgage and buy one of those beds with the dual controls.

On the other hand, bunk beds would be a heck of a lot cheaper.