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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Last Mattress

We recently bought a new mattress. The old one was 20 years old, and the springs were starting to pop out of the sides.  It was time. We had bought one of those foam covers when we started getting poked by springs.  Our dog, Satan, had played Regan MacNeil on it way too many times. She has these episodes where she unloads all three bodily excretables, liquid, solid, and semi-solid all over the house, but saves the lion’s share for the bed. The foam cover was thrown out, and to get the mattress into useable, unscented condition again, we had to brush Comet into it, over and over, until the mattress screamed, “You’re killing me!”

Let’s face it. Buying a mattress is one step below spending an evening with an insurance salesman. Discount mattress store ads, with their blazingly bright neon backgrounds and bold red fonts say one thing to potential customers: Come in and get ripped off.

Discount mattress salesmen are, for the most part, a sad lot. No kid wants to grow up and have a career in commissioned sales. It is a last resort job when everything else has failed. Your typical mattress salesman is a late-middle-aged white guy, bald or balding, and overweight. Our second salesman actually introduced himself to us as “Big Bob.” The adjective, if you’re not blind, is redundant. I also imagine the guy as divorced and having been taken to the cleaners by his ex-wife. Having handed her over the house, he now lives in a studio or one bedroom apartment and watches ESPN and drinks generic beer on his days off. He drives, if he’s lucky, a 1990’s-era Pontiac Catalina; otherwise it’s a 1974 Chevy Vega or Ford Maverick. They are all cum laude graduates of the Columbia School of Lying.

We went to one mattress shop where they boasted being the largest mattress dealer in the country, while another one boasted being a small, family owned company who offered more personal care and service. Really? Would they be willing to come over and scrub out a giant puddle of vomited-up dog-doo from the mattress? I think not.

We went to Macy’s, where the salesman lied to us not once, not twice, but three times. That degree of his really paid off. When we realized the bed of our dreams was going to cost over five grand, we had to go back to the drawing board.

The $5K bed was a split king with two individual remote-controlled reclining gel memory foam mattresses. The remote had a setting called zero gravity that felt so glorious that we wanted to stay there forever. If the salesman had wheeled in a large TV and brought us some nice snacks, we probably would have. It was that amazing. The bed also had a massage feature, which was just a doctored-up Magic Fingers that I knew we’d never use. I was once given a Magic Fingers machine. I used it once and found it most annoying, so I unhooked it and sold it for a buck at a garage sale.

Other Bill didn’t want the split king mattress. When I realized what a pain it would be to have to change four sheets instead of two, I easily surrendered on that feature. He really wanted the recliner option, but there are times when he wants to recline and watch TV in bed, and I want to just sleep flat. Plus that option was half of the $5000 price tag. So we nixed that option as well.

It was about that time when I realized that because the mattress came with a 25-year warranty, this would most likely be the last mattress I’ll ever buy.  If I’m lucky, the next one will be paid for by the Medicare-run nursing home I will end up in. Although being gay is loads of fun, it doesn’t automatically come with children who will care for you in your declining years.

This the-end-is-near experience was certainly daunting and a little nerve-wracking. There have clearly been indications that the road to ruin is a one-way street: hair loss, wrinkled face, flab expansion, and the never-ending decisions to nap instead of vacuum. But there hasn’t been an actual milestone as cut and dry as the last mattress.

There will be a last car. I can easily say that Satan will be the last dog, but I said that about her predecessor and didn’t follow through. A next roof will hopefully be the last one. A last Viagra prescription will occur one day when I realize I’d rather use the co-pay for a couple gallons ice cream instead of six artificial but guaranteed erections.

So do you think when these milestones pop up, I should celebrate them by splurging instead of “making do” which has been my mission statement all my life. Will my last car be the white Porsche 911 I so wanted as a teenager? Hell no, things have changed since then. I’ll want the most gas-saving hybrid or maybe even hydrogen-fueled vehicle.

And since I realized, prior to closing on the deal, that this is my last mattress, do you think we  went ahead and splurged on the 5G bed?

Not on your life. We were out the door of the mattress shop $1600 poorer. Still a gel memory foam king sized mattress, but not split in two. No zero gravity, no Magic Fingers. No built-in lullabyes. Just flat.

That’s because when I wrote the “make do” mission statement, I knew it would be my last.

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