there’s something a little too intimate about mattress shopping: the salesperson will ask you how you sleep–you will lie down in front of them and they will tell you to lie on your back, and then on your side and then on your stomach. a comment will be made about how, on this particular model, the coil system is designed as such that my movements will not effect the other person sleeping in the bed with me, and i will reply that that’s good because my imaginary boyfriend is a light sleeper. the salesperson will offer me three beds, like i am a mattress goldilocks, and ask me “do you like it hard or soft?” it isn’t until i reply “hard will keep me up all night” that i realize we’re a synthesized soundtrack away from being our very own pornographic film.
at both mattress stores eric and i blessed yesterday, it is assumed that the bed i am buying will be shared with eric–perhaps because each bed is tested with the two of us laying side by side, sometimes spooning, sometimes not; and while i hope to one day find a man as wonderful as eric, the truth is…so is he. this fact is what makes me less embarrassed by our behavior, and more amused by it.
“would you sink too much if you straddled me?” he asks, “you know…during our love making?” he accompanies his questions with two slow motion thrusts.
eric has become the ultimate shopping sidekick: he holds my purse when my hands are full without complaining, and never talks me out of spending money i never really had for things i don’t really need. sure, there are the dirty jokes he makes in public or the child with downs syndrome impressions he does when i’m discoursing with a sales person; but my reactions to his blatant attempts to embarrass me are only showing me the kind of mother i will be in the future should i decide to / should i have the chance to procreate: whilst at such-and-such department store deciding between the red shoes and the black shoes, i will have failed to notice that my young son has set fire to the junior miss department.
on my sixth mattress, i’m beginning to lose all ability to tell the difference. “it’s funny how quickly the body forgets,” i tell the sales woman, “the minute i lie down on another mattress, i forget what the previous one felt like.”
she begins to explain to me how the makes are similar and how they are different, when i realize that eric is no longer at my side. i smile and nod at her while i scan the showroom for eric, whom i eventually find at the other end of the room curled up on a $17,000 mattress.
“courtney!” he calls, raising his hand and waving it at me, “i like this one. i think you should get this one.”
i opt instead for the mattress $16,000 cheaper. eric has joined me at the counter to watch me hand over my credit card and sign away most of my next paycheck. “remind me in a few weeks when i get my credit card statement,” i tell him, “that my lower back pain has disappeared.”
the bed was delivered today, an hour before the final game of the FIFA world cup ended in penalty kicks. the two delivery men bring in my new mattress, which seems ten feet taller than my old one, and drag the old one — which i lovingly dubbed the “underachiever” after my sister bought The Achiever* a few years back — out into the hallway.
“who’s playing?” asks one of the delivery men, pressing the button for the elevator.
“italy and france,” i reply.
“then it doesn’t matter who wins,” he decides. “that’s like, the same country.”
as they leave with my old bed i am overwhelmed by a feeling of sadness. i suppose it makes sense in a weird way: i’ve been sleeping on that thing for the past ten plus years and i can’t shake the feeling that i’ve left it for a younger, sexier mattress.
“oh my god,” eric calls from my bedroom, breaking any sentimental thought, “i want to make love to your mattress.”
i walk in to find him sprawled face down on my bed.
“eric,” i reply, “please don’t.”
*actual model name of a mattress