I am not sitting in bed as I write this, and I am glad of it. Beds are terrible things, lousy with shoddy physics, crushed dreams, and sometimes, even lice.
A bed seems like a heavenly, therapeutic place. Ever since we upgraded from sleeping on splayed out hay (my uncle Shane still prefers this form of bed) the human bed has seemed like a lovely offering: four legs to elevate you, with a plushy surface on top to rest your corporeal frame, atop. The very invention of the bed seems like its creator got away with murder. Some shamelessly enterprising mind, at some point said, “Let’s not sleep on anything hard, anymore. Let’s put some marshmallowy stuff down, and go on top of that. In this way, we’ve made things better for ourselves!”
The unapologetic privilege of this maneuver suggests that beds were not invented by serfs.
O, the hypocrisy of a bed! A bed is manufactured for optimal niceness, but utilizing a bed is anything but nice.
Firstly, there’s the unpredictable nature of a bed’s squishiness. The squishiness is not even improved by the type of mattress you have. Have you ever hopped onto a spring mattress and bounced a little? You probably landed 1 to 2 inches away from your target sleep zone. Maybe even three. In a society with such prevalent O.C.D., how can we sleep off-center like that?
And, heaven knows, after you’ve successfully deposited yourself onto your bed, there’s more work to be done. You’ll need to flip over. Move your arms around. Perform all kinds of rotation. I thought a bed was for rest. Manufacturers have made us believe that beds are beacons of peace and soft cradling, but look under the covers, and the truth is that beds require more acrobatics than an overworked circus performer.
Then, there’s the sinking in of memory foam. Let’s say you plopped yourself like a rock, right in the center of your memory foam mattress, and you had left pens and coins on the mattress. Naturally, the pens and coins would roll and slide into the gully formed alongside your body. Then, you would have to fish them out. What does fishing out a pen, or a coin, have to do with sleeping? People that work for the Rivers and Lakes Department already do that all day.
What else is dissatisfying about beds? Oh man, so many things. Beds are so overhyped, that they can’t possibly do anything BUT disappoint. It seems our whole day is based around our want to return to a bed. On the train, we nostalgically touch the sleep creases on our face, wishing we could have slept for a few hours more. At work, we exchange conversations like this one:
“How’s your day going?’
“Good, but I’d rather be in bed!”
“Oh yeah, SAME!”
We dream of bed on the way home. We get excited that no one can stop us from getting into our bed. We dive in, with the abandon of diving into a pool on the first day of summer. We get ready for prime sitting. We sit. And then we remember: sitting on a bed is the most insipid activity known to humankind. What do you do, when you sit on a bed? Stare at the wall. Stare at your posters. You sink into the foam rubber like a lobotomized boulder and reflect on your day. What did you do that day? You conversed about beds.
Then, there’s the issue of actually sleeping. Sleeping is horrific. Sleeping is a horrendous, sloppy activity, and I’m dubious that our body really performs sleep each night, sometimes for up to 100 years! How do our arteries not break, under the pressure of our body slamming into the bed as we constantly rotate, ostensibly “asleep.” How do we not dehydrate, fall into chunks, and wake up dead?
There is so much precarity involved with sleeping. The gripes and problem-areas accumulate, like a list of grievances against the MTA.
If your mattress is too comfortable, you might fall asleep too fast. You might fall asleep with the light on. Your eyeballs would see the veiled light through your eyelids, and think it’s daytime. Who knows what would happen in your subconscious, if your brain thought it was daytime, during the night? Maybe your brain, in shock, would secrete different chemicals. Maybe you’d wake up covered in hair!
If your mattress is too hard, though, you might never fall asleep. Might NEVER fall asleep. Not just on that particular night, but forever after. Maybe that’s a good thing. You could just get rid of your bed.
Dan Tarnowski is a writer in Brooklyn. He currently sleeps on some splayed out hay. His most recent chapbook of poems is ‘after you say what’s true…’ (see dtarnowski.com). Follow him via @IndieDiaspora.