I often buy things for myself out of shame. I bought a new couch only when it became obvious that my musty, sagging, slip covered old one was about to achieve sentience. When I realized that I’d be in public promoting my book I finally decided to replace the worn, ill fitting “funeral and wedding” suit hanging in my closet with new blazers and slacks. And, when I realized that I was forty years old and had never bought myself a television set, I replaced the dusty 27 inch cathode ray tube box my parents gave me in my twenties with a sparkling 50 inch plasma. I have shoes in my closet older than some of the people reading this sentence. So you can imagine how far I let my mattress go.
My mattress is thirteen years old. I know its thirteen years old because the delivery men who hauled it up to my apartment in 1995 asked if they could watch the O.J. Simpson verdict being announced on my television. After O.J. got acquitted the men thanked me, left, and the dust mites and I got on with our lives.
That mattress saw me though four apartments, two presidential administrations, several women, Wall Street booms and busts, a dog, more than a few jobs, and writing one book. It cradled me when I recovered from double pneumonia, spun like an LP when I had too much to drink, and held me when I cried on 9/11. I read hundreds of books on that mattress; napped, daydreamed, listened to music, had sex, not had sex, woke up in pain, tossed and turned with anxiety, suffered nightmares, had flashes of inspiration, made life changing decisions, felt love and hate, hope and despair, talked to God and sometimes to the other fellow. I had a lot of fun in that bed – but I also spent many nights wondering if I’d die alone in it. If I had conceived a child on that mattress the day I bought it, it’d be a bratty teenager by now.
Sleeping in hotel beds over the past two months made me realize how much my old mattress had deteriorated. It’s sagging in spots, creaks, and I’ve been waking up sore for almost a year. On Wednesday, motivated by the desire not to be a forty year old guy with shitty bedding, I bit the bullet and went mattress shopping. Let me tell you, shopping for a new mattress is more complicated than buying a new car. After visiting several stores, testing two dozen models, and listening to salesmen bullshit me out the wazoo, I settled on a new queen size model with some bells and whistles. Of course the money hemorrhage is just starting. My old mattress was a full, so now I have to replace all my sheets, comforters, and buy a new headboard. Then again some people are sleeping on dirt floors, I should consider myself lucky. At least I’ll be comfortable sleeping into my fifties.
Then on Friday one of those little coincidences that make life interesting happened. Orenthal James Simpson was convicted of kidnapping and burglary thirteen years to the day he was acquitted of criminal charges in the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson. Exactly thirteen years after my old mattress was delivered. Some of the reporters covering the trial in Vegas were in grade school when O,J. walked in ’95. During my old mattress’s lifespan O.J. was a free man and I stumbled though a bunch of jobs, became a waiter, and ended up becoming a writer. My old mattress is going to the dump and The Juice is going to jail. As I lie in my new bed, I gaze up at the ceiling and wonder what life has in store for me. Who knows?
The world is wondrous and strange.