“Going to the mattresses” is a phrase from the movie “The Godfather” that is often repeated and frequently misunderstood. In Mafia parlance it is an idiom meaning going to war. When one family would wage war with another family they would establish safe houses where people could sleep. Such a place was typically an empty apartment or home with mattresses available for warmongering families to rest their weary souls. However they procured their mattresses, I am certain it wasn’t by consulting consumer reports or going to the mattress store to try out mattresses. I could imagine Vito Corleone preferring the pocket-coiled innerspring, silk, damask, queen with the multilayered memory-foam pillow top. Most couples don’t settle their differences by “going to the mattresses” but rather by going to the mattress store.
Actually, we have never waged war over a sleeping arrangement, but we have had a few discussions. It has been written that you should never go to bed mad so we stayed up for two weeks. Overall, we have been reasonably accepting of the other person’s preferences when it comes to mattresses, but after 37 years of marriage we have now tried nearly every possible mattress design or arrangement possible. We just bought the last mattress I ever hope to buy, primarily because it cost nearly double the sales price of my first car, and it has memory foam. I need the memory foam, my wife doesn’t. She remembers everything that happened in the bedroom for the past 37 years.
The first mattress we ever owned was a thin veneer of lumpy cotton resting over the uneven frame of a hide-a-bed couch. We couldn’t afford a bed and a couch so we bought the couch on credit and paid $15 a month on 18-percent interest and should have it paid off any day now. It was so uncomfortable it made me envious of a homeless man stretched out on the sidewalk. At least he appeared to be sleeping later in the morning than I was. Our second mattress was an ancient metal-framed bed with cables stretched between springs attached to the sides of the angle-iron frame. It squeaked and squawked terribly and no matter where you started your evening you always ended up in the middle. Getting out of bed was always an uphill climb. The mattress was nothing more than thick cotton batting stained from the two previous generations that used it before it fell into our possession.
The ‘70s was a time of transition, from traditional to whatever seemed to be different from tradition. As part of that era, water beds became incredibly popular. We bought the water-bed mattress, which was nothing more than a huge bladder filled with water, and we built the bed. That’s right, we went to the lumberyard and bought some lumber and built the bed, and it worked. Perched in the bedroom on the second story of our aging farmhouse, we finally had a state-of-the-art sleeping arrangement. We couldn’t afford the more expensive water-bed mattresses with internal baffles to dampen the wave action. We had the simple and basic rubber bag on a plywood platform. If anyone dared to shift positions at night it would set off miniature tidal waves that threatened to expel the partner or cause persistent seasickness. My wife got pregnant during the tidal-wave seasickness years and later in the pregnancy she was unable to get out of bed without assistance. That, coupled with the floor cracking from the excess weight from the water-filled mattress, made the decision easy. Out with the bladder and on to something else.
The next was an innerspring mattress guaranteed to promote heavenly rest and marital bliss. It worked out fine but it must not have fulfilled our lofty expectations. We could never quite agree on the relative firmness or softness of our mattress so we went to the Sleep Number mattress. In concept, this is great. Each side has a pump that inflates or deflates your side to your desired level of support. In reality, it didn’t work for us. Our numbers were so different it created a divide between us. One side was like a hammock and the other like plywood, separated by a speed bump. If one person was seeking to snuggle with the other it didn’t work. Once you crossed the barrier to the other side you couldn’t get back. I’m not sure if we are just hard to please but that went into a guest room and we next bought a nationally recognized highly recommended memory-foam mattress. Somewhere around middle age most people begin to be afflicted with disorders of one of the three B’s – bunions, bladders or bad backs. I have one of the three and may be on the verge of one of the others. I loved the memory-foam mattress. It responded to your body heat and would conform to your shape without problems. However, it didn’t work for my wife because she is too light and has no body heat, none.
Recently our daughter got married and moved out, taking one of the beds with her. We had to replace it so we went to our favorite furniture store to look at the options. After much discussion we finally decided to buy a new mattress for our own use and shift my favorite resting spot into the guest room. It is a comfortable, soft, yet firm, pillow-top mattress with enough memory foam to last a lifetime. We finally agree about our sleeping arrangements. We are done buying mattresses.