A mattress is insatiable. It demands sacrifices. At night it makes the
sound of a bouncing ball. It needs a bookcase. It needs a table with
thick stupid legs. Creaking its springs, it demands drapes, a door
curtain, and pots and pans for the kitchen. It shoves people and says to them:
"Goon! Buy a washboard and rolling-pin!"
"I'm ashamed of you, man. You haven't yet got a carpet."
"Work! I'll soon give you children. You need money for nappies and a pram."
A mattress remembers and does everything in its own way.
Not even a poet can escape the common lot. Here he comes,
carrying one from the market, hugging it to his soft belly with horror.
"I'll break down your resistance, poet," says the mattress. "You no
longer need to run to the post office to write poetry. And, anyway, is
it worth writing? Work and the balance will always be in your favour.
Think about your wife and children!"
"I haven't a wife," cries the poet, staggering back from his sprung
"You will have! But I don't guarantee she will be the loveliest girl on
earth. I don't even know whether she will be kind. Be prepared for
anything. You will have children."
"I don't like children."
"You frighten me, citizen mattress."
"Shut up, you fool. You don't know everything. You'll also obtain
credit from the Moscow woodworking factory."
"I'll kill you, mattress!"
"Puppy! If you dare to, the neighbours will denounce you to the
That's an excerpt from a very funny comic Russian novel Twelve Chairs,
which you can read online.
Recently, Jonathan and I attempted to buy a mattress.
It's always been my dream to own a king sized bed. Plus Zoe sleeps with
us and Noah manages to as well sometimes. (i.e. we need it).
In 2001, I bought my sister a Tempurpedic mattress as an engagement
present. She's always loved good bedding. She didn't end up marrying
the guy, who was an inventor and invented the blue ink in American
Express Blue cards and made fake passports for the CIA, and she didn't
like the mattress either (too firm), so she gave it back to me and I'd
been sleeping on it ever since.
Jonathan loved it so we thought we'd buy another Tempurpedic. We
did, the Contour Supreme (heavenly, firm), but it smelled terrible and
we started reading frightening articles online about the neurotoxic
chemicals it's made of. Zoe was just a few weeks old and we were
afraid for her. We tried to air it out: removing the cover and standing
it by the window every day for weeks, but when it hadn't stopped
off-gassing after a month and a half, we returned it.
After further research on the heath hazards of memory foam we
decided to splurge and buy an Essentia, which is organic memory
foam. They are crazy, crazy expensive, but we justified it with
the idea that we would spend 8 hours a day on it for twenty years.
Unfortunately, it was not very comfortable. Fortunately, it too was
By now we are feeling defeated, tired of mattress shopping and unsure
of what we wanted. So we headed to Sleepys. It's just very confusing,
buying a mattress. You go to the showroom and lie down on ten or
twenty of them and by the end you have no idea what you want
anymore or how comfortable any of them really are. Do we really like
"firm" mattresses, or have we simply always had one? The salesperson
talks a lot of mumbo jumbo about coils and latex and alignment. She
tried to convince me that firm mattresses are for fat people. Then
later, after we'd bought the mattress, she starts telling me how her
obstetrician kept harassing her about weight gain and gestational
diabetes during her first pregnancy so she skipped prenatal care
entirely for her subsequent children. I didn't even know you could do
In the end we picked the first one we'd lain down on. And then we
discovered that you can make an offer for a mattress. Sleepys prices
are not fixed, you actually bargain with the regional manager via
the salesperson. The mattress was $2900, on sale for $2600, we
offered $2200 and that was fine.
update: 4/2018: I went home that day and found the same mattress on Amazon for $1100.