Judy Weinberg and Jewel Beth Davis

Judy Weinberg

No Comfort

Response Piece

Upon a Mattress

Jewel Beth Davis

Inspiration Piece

I stand up in my attic bedroom staring at the huge expanse that is my new bed. It is a Queen and I feel paralyzed by the football field dimensions and thickness of this new monster. I think, I am going to have to sleep in that thing. Every night.  A bed that big is intimidating for a single woman. What is the future of my new bed? Will it be as lonely and forlorn as my last smaller full size bed? Will it be comforting?  I wish I could have gotten a full size this time.

A week earlier, I turned over in my old bed. Then rolled over once more. All this shifting annoyed my cat.  I couldn’t get comfortable. Hadn’t been able to for a very long time. Often, when I awoke in the morning, one of my legs and both ankles were numb. My left arm was jammed under my ear. My neck hurt. I felt small shocks traveling down my left arm into my hand.  My lower back ached. I moved my right hand onto my right hip. It was burning. The top of the thighbone felt fiery, heat radiating from it.  The muscles under my right scapula ached and pulsed. My whole body rebelled. I was leaving the next day to visit my family in Florida and I hadn’t slept comfortably in months.

Boca Raton. I walk into the enormous bedroom that is the guest room in my cousins’ condo. One entire side of the wall is glass. I can see the beach and a spacious blue sky. Filling up most of the room is a king size bed, very high off the floor and covered with high thread count sheets and a beautiful white faux down comforter. I climb up onto the bed to try it out, thinking I could have used a stepladder. It seems very high up, in the rarefied air of the stratosphere. The bed feels very firm, the way my bed used to feel when I first bought it sixteen years ago. I usually can’t sleep in a bed away from home. I don’t know whether it’s being far from home or that the beds felt different from my own. That night, when I climb high onto my bed in the guest room, I’m certain I’ll be awake for hours, and then in fifteen minutes, I fall sleep.  In the morning, my body doesn’t hurt. It is shocking to be aware of the absence of pain. My legs are not numb and my ankles don’t give out. How strange.

Back home in New Hampshire, I look forward to sleeping in my own familiar bed. It is covered with a puff over which is a beautiful green and red log cabin quilt with matching pillow shams. It seems so welcoming. Come to me, it croons sweetly. I climb into it and within ten minutes, my back and hips are throbbing and painful. When I awake, I feel as though I haven’t slept at all. My legs are numb. When I rise, my ankles start to give out. All of this comes together in a startling realization. Dear God, I need a new bed.

The next day, I find myself at Sleepy’s, just ten minutes from my home. I’ve shopped all the local mattress stores online and I know where and what the deals are. I walk around the store, lying on every bed, one after the other, waiting for the lone salesman to free up. My mind is made up. I’m purchasing a bed today. If they don’t have a suitable choice, then I’ll move on to Mattress Discounters down the street. Nothing will stand in the way of my purchasing a healthy sleep-producing rest product. Nothing.

The salesman approaches and he is the sleep version of the car salesman, slick and smarmy. He introduces himself as Steven but I can tell his name is really Rick or Bud. He can sniff my desire for immediate purchase though I try to keep things light and present myself as slightly flaky. It’s a big purchase and I want him slightly off guard when I move in for the kill. He tries to sell me the highest end products but I veer back to the bed that feels the best for my back, a Simmons Beautyrest with its individual coil system, and a midlevel price tag. When I lie on it, it is firm but not too firm, with an underlying softness factor. It does not have a pillow top, which I find to be overly cushy.  I want this bed. Badly.

It is a full size and he does not want to give me the discount that applies to Queen and King Size beds. He says he just can’t.  Therefore, I tell him that I want to shop around at different stores for the same bed to compare prices. Suddenly, that $300 discount that only applied to certain models becomes available. Delivery is another $129. They charge an extra $30 to cart the mattress away. The hell with it, I say, and go for the whole overpriced shebang. Steven tries to sell me a mattress cover for an absurd price. I’d already purchased one for a quarter of his quote.

He claims my credit card is not going through and it takes my calling my bank and going through a series of procedures to unfreeze my account. I don’t normally buy high-ticket items like this and the bank thought someone was tapping my credit card. It takes an hour and a half to straighten this out, then read and sign the forms. He throws in the mattress cover for free since it all took so long. He reads the agreement out loud to me and I can tell by the wording that come hell or high water, they will never refund my money if the product were defective. There is a warranty on it but the wording of the agreement is so specific, that I’d better love this mattress once it’s delivered, because it’s not going anywhere. I leave the store and fill my air mattress to cover the six nights before my new mattress and box spring is delivered. I refuse to sleep on the old decrepit slab that was formerly my beloved bed.

The Day of Delivery arrives. They have a four-hour delivery window and the truck arrives at the farthest end of the window. On Facebook, I tell my friends I hope at least the deliverymen are cute. They aren’t. Neither Manuel nor Jose speaks English. The smell of cigarette smoke pours from their clothes and skin. They walk up into my attic bedroom and shake their heads.


They move the old mattress off the box spring. They lug the new box spring to my staircase. The devil is standing on that staircase laughing and refusing to let them pass. The new box springs have wood on all sides and are much thicker. They don’t bend like my old one.

“It no go,” Manuel says.

I am unreasonable. “You have to get it up there. I need a bed.”

“It no bend,” Manuel says.

“There has to be a way,” I say. But there isn’t. The staircase to the attic is not the normal width or height as other staircases in the apartment.

“We go,” Manuel says. Jose says nothing. And he carries the box spring back out to the truck. A four-way conversation ensues between the dispatcher at the delivery facility in Massachusetts, Manuel, the salesman in Dover and me. It is not pretty to listen to. Steven suggests I drive to Portsmouth to look at the King Coil mattress, which has a full whose box spring comes in two separate pieces.  I tell him I want my money back. Suddenly, he is offering me a Queen size Simmons set for the same price. The mattress will bend just enough to get up there.

Other mattress/box spring misadventures occur. On the agreed upon day and time for the new delivery, I am home but they never show. When I call the salesperson to inquire, he says they were there at 2 PM and I was not. I hear the accusation in his tone. That is a falsehood. I jump up and down holding the phone, but they will not be back up here until Friday. I report every detail to my friends on Facebook. They are sympathetic but not surprised.

Now it is Friday and I stand facing my giant of a new bed. I hope I won’t have to slay him. I hope it will all have been worth it. I have many hopes for this place of rest, including sleep. I climb up onto this high plain that is my new bed and rest. It is new and frightening but it will be good. All new things are frightening to me. Usually, once the terror wears off, I am happier than before.

There are no peas under this mattress.

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  1. Posted March 2, 2011 at 4:48 am | #

    Wow! That was so great! The story reminds me of many bad delivery episodes I have had in my life and the photograph represents the confusion and anger of the bed experience.

  2. Posted March 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm | #

    Loved this story, as I feel I am part of it. So what’s the final word? Do you love this new mattress? Glad my guest bed was the catalyst. You write sooooo well.