Mattress

According to an essay I once read, the U.S. electorate tends to select a president because he’s perceived as having some crucial quality that makes up for something his predecessor lacked. So, for example, we have Joe Biden now because he seemed eager to unify the nation after the divisive Trump era. And we had Trump before that because I guess much of the country had tired of decency after eight years of Obama.

I don’t know whether the theory holds up. But I do know something similar happened with the choosing of my current mattress.

When my husband, Frank, and I moved to the Boston area last summer, we left our old mattress behind in New York City. Consequently, our first few nights in Massachusetts were spent on a leaky air mattress that provided no support whatsoever to our aching, aging bones.

Given those circumstances, it should come as no surprise that when we walked into the Mattress Firm showroom after several nights of sleeping on flaccid vinyl, our bodies longed for something hard (not for the first time).

To return to our presidential premise, I had endured the Jimmy Carter–esque malaise of a soft and yielding sleep surface, and now I wanted something firm and dense like Ronald Reagan.

But just as voters backed the wrong candidate in the 1980s, Frank and I overcorrected at the mattress store and ended up with an adamantine Tempur-Pedic that’s about as comfortable to sleep on as a funerary monument.

Actually, since the mattress is made out of a heavy, compacted, foamy substance that somehow has zero squish, lying on it feels more like being on a giant, tightly packed sandbag. In fact, government officials in New Orleans should think about hiring Tempur-Pedic to reinforce the city’s levees because I’m pretty sure my mattress could hold back the entire Mississippi River all by itself.

Frank and I were shortsighted about this whole thing, attempting to offset the temporary discomfort of the air mattress with bold and decisive action that made our discomfort permanent.

After all, mattresses are too expensive to justify buying a new one before you’ve gotten your money’s worth. So now, even though we acknowledge we made a poor decision and the mattress sucks, we’re stuck with it for, what, four to eight years?

Again, it’s just like Reagan!

If you’re wondering why we didn’t return the mattress after a few days, I believe we waived that option in exchange for a lower price. Like I say: shortsighted.

I should also mention that Frank blames me for the whole fiasco. He says I had adopted a very firm stance in favor of very firm mattresses and that’s why we got what we got. I feel, however, that the proper time for Frank to voice any objections to purchasing a granite slab to sleep on would have been during the shopping process, when he was instead lying down with me on a series of increasingly rigid surfaces and agreeing we could probably go firmer.

I would argue that we both made this (uncomfortable) bed and now we must both lie in it (uncomfortably).

Given that we live in New England these days, maybe it’s appropriate that our bed is as hard as Plymouth Rock. Puritans probably thought cushions were sinful, in which case I imagine Cotton Mather and Goody Proctor and the rest would be pretty impressed with the virtuousness of my sleeping situation.

Provided they could overlook the Puerto Rican sodomite tossing and turning by my side, of course.

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