Sunday, March 28, 2010

Buying a Mattress

sunrise river 2
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
When I went to San Francisco a couple of weeks ago to visit my brother, I got to sleep in a real bed. It was, well, not eye opening exactly: kind of more eye closing. Years ago - around 12 or 13 years ago, I think - tired of Salvation Army mattresses (this was before bedbugs and also before my gross out meter got activated; I was young and did not give a shit) and dime store futons, I bought a real futon. It was expensive and I think it was handmade by medieval Japanese nuns in a convent deep in the Himalayas using organic yak foam, or possibly it was made by hippies in Baltimore, either or, but at any rate it was a big thick fancy futon and I loved it. I was in those days fairly convinced that most of Western culture, aesthetics and design were a consumerist commercialized crock of shit while the Asians knew what they were doing and that therefore, futons were just vastly superior to decadent American mattresses in every way. I'm still fairly convinced of this, by the way, and any comparison of a raku bowl to a precious moments figurine will bear me out, like, immediately, but I have also ceded the point that decadent Western mattress companies might just know what they're doing in terms of sleep.

My futon traveled with me from Baltimore to the northern edges of Baltimore county and then to Arden and at last to this, the third of three West Asheville houses that I've landed in over the last ten years, and at some point it just gave up and died. I was used to it though and partly because sleep has never been much of a problem for me - waking up is the problem - I thought it was fine. Besides, I'm Irish American and have not only a few Puritan tendencies but also a deep seated tiny voice that thinks mortification of the flesh in the pursuit of cleanliness or godliness or something is just dandy. That was all groovy and actually I never even though of any of this until I came home from my four nights in a real bed in San Francisco and lay down in my very own bed. Of rocks.

So I decided that that was it and I was going to buy a new bed and yesterday I did just that. First I read a whole lot of informative stuff about how to buy a mattress on the internet so that I would have information to ignore and then I went to Sam's Club. At Sam's Club they have 2 kinds of mattresses and you can pull peculiar half sized versions of both out of the wall on wheels like deranged hide a beds for the Sam's Club slaves who live there. Then you can lie down on them - the internet says that if you are buying a mattress you must lie down on it for about ten minutes at the least and wiggle around as if you are sleeping when loaded to the gills on cold medicine and possibly meth - among all the Sam's Club shoppers in their glory with their giant carts loaded with giant things.

It turns out that I have not after all managed to banish the demon of self consciousness from my psyche and lying down on a mattress and proceeding to toss and turn in front of hundreds of vaguely interested shoppers is not something I can do alone. If I had brought a few friends along I might have been better at it - I can count on my friends in these situations to double over with laughter and make bad jokes, which would have helped - but I was by myself and by the third toss and turn and fascinated stare from a giant toddler and his giant parent, I had to leave Sam's Club, possibly forever and praying that this didn't lead to a really seriously creepy Craigslist missed connection.

Onward, therefore, to the mattress store on Patton Avenue by the Kerr Drug. This mattress store is dingy and has seen better days but also, in case you were ever wondering, has a truly amazing selection of cheap hideous rugs for all your frighteningly ugly rug needs. The salesguy was nice and as I had been warned by the internet everything was on "sale" and I might have bought a mattress there except for the fact that there were actually two sales guys and one of them was pretending to be a customer. No, I'm sorry, nobody stands around for 30 minutes in a store saying things like, "WOW! How do you get your prices SO LOW?" and "Gee, I wish I'd win the lottery so I could just buy everything in the store!" (that one was the best, because immediately I thought, hmm, all they sell are beds and ugly rugs, what, do you own a 40 bedroom house with concrete floors?) and "I hope you don't mind me hanging out here but I'm so excited by what you're selling!" That one was excellent too, because I also began to wonder just what the hell else they were selling and if it was cheap and any good. Perhaps I am overly cynical but it is my experience that nobody on this planet says things like that just out of the blue and particularly not if the person in question is a mid twenties American male from, probably, Leicester NC.

This freaky little two man sales pitch skeeved me out completely. I mean, here I was, the only customer in the store, lying down on a bunch of beds in the middle of the afternoon (which lying down allowed me to notice that the ceiling tiles in this place were all water stained and corroding) while a performance art piece from the 1954 Sales America Bible was going on around me. I had to leave and I was rattled.

Rattled enough to go on to the next mattress place on Patton Avenue, which is next to the Sprint store and a tattoo parlor and just buy a big honking thick goddamn pillow topped American mattress for too much money, load it on top of my car and get it on home. And last night I slept like that proverbial baby who has very little in common with real babies who don't, actually, sleep much. I also discovered that among the other things (it's soft! it's comfortable! I slept for almost 12 hours!) that make it so incredible is the wonderful fact that it is so thick the dog farts and snores wafting up from under the bed, a constant reminder of my status as pack leader and congenital unable to resist stray puppies idiot, have lost a lot of pungency by the time they float to my level. That alone is worth more or less any sum of money, oh yes, it is. And now my poor old futon is out on the curb in the rain and I feel sad for it - but I think I'll recover.

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