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There’s a day we dread on our calendar. No, it’s not dental appointment day. It’s when my husband and I have to flip our mattress over in what I call The Mattress Maintenance Program. Sleeping well is essential for good health and there are rituals involved to ensure a good night’s sleep is available to us every night. Whenever I travel, the thing I miss most (sorry local friends) is my bed. I am seriously dedicated to it’s condition and the upkeep that goes with preserving my chances of a comfy sleep for years to come.
We ditched our previous bed set when we moved as it was 20 years-old and not worth the space it would take up in the U-Haul box. After we closed on our new house in Asheville, the first store we hit up was the mattress-making enterprise. The store makes the mattresses on premises and this thrilled us in a way that may seem a bit pathetic, but we had already spent more than a week sleeping in motels and we were about to spend a fortune buying that surface on which we would spend the rest of our snoozing days…nights, whatever. Thrilled with anticipation beyond the normal shopping experience, we were about to make some momentous choices, second only to choosing the house we were about to live in.
We must have had that serious-sleepers look when we arrived at the factory store. Our salesman appeared to understand the zeal with which we approached this deal. There followed a short question and answer period in which we had to divulge our intimate nocturnal habits and desires. The trust we had to invest in our salesman was like sharing our most private details with a licensed therapist. Our ideal sleeping arrangement was at stake, so we went for it. After test driving a few showroom models, we chose extra-extra firm–we called our old mattress “the slab” until it became more like “the drab.” Eleven inches high with the best coils money could buy encased in anti-allergenic foam and a satiny, but not too slippery, fabric that would last until the next ice age. When we chose the box spring to go under it, we balked at the maximum height as we feared we might need a ladder to get on top of the thing. Then we gave the store a lot of money and went back to our econo-lodgings on the freeway to await the delivery date.
Two guys came to the new house days later and had to deliver the mattress and box spring to the floor of our bedroom as our furniture, with our bed frame, hadn’t yet arrived. We abandoned the motel room for an empty house with a magnificent sleeping situation, like two delighted college kids who finally decided ending the day in the same bed was worth putting up with severe minimalism. When our furniture arrived a few days later, the full weight of the situation came crashing down on us. That expensive yet delightful mattress weighed a ton! We rapidly transformed from rollicking college kids to bemused geezers. We thought we might need a crane to get the damn things out of the way in order to situate the bed frame in place. We feared we would have to hire two actual college students to slip our newly purchased, highly prized mattress and box spring into their new home.
Having recently had some peaceful nights of solid sleep, we believed we could put our minds together and use good old fashioned principles of physics to wrestle the demon into submission. A few choice curse words and aching backs later, the new bed was assembled in its place and we had to take a nap to ease our bruised bodies…and egos. This monstrosity was a serious investment in our health and happiness. It had to be kept in peak condition for as long as possible, as did we. I began to think about what we could do to be sure we got the most out of this mattress without causing prolonged injuries. The Mattress Maintenance Program was hatched.
Every three months we either flip or rotate the mattress to ensure a smooth and even wear. I wrote the dates on my World Wildlife calendar and we forgot all about it until I flipped the page to a new month and the next maneuver glared at me . A strategy was needed to keep either one of us from blowing a disc or requiring months of traction. So, a rotating we will go. We unmade the bed and slid the mattress partially onto the footboard, spun it 180 degrees and shoved it back (with all our might–pushing from the core) into a useable position and then remade the bed. After that, we went out for a beer, dreading the arrival of our next calendar date with the bed that wouldn’t budge.
When flipping day arrived, I gave notice to my guy so that we would have a little time to choreograph the least damaging method for turning over that which weighed the same as our family sedan. I loved this mattress. I hugged it each night as I slid under the covers and in the morning after a great night’s sleep. Flipping was both a labor of love and and a scary proposition. We both got on one side and pulled the mattress toward us, bending at the knees and concentrating on using the leg muscles rather than our backs. Once it was halfway off the bed, with no more room to move backwards, we tilted the nearest side upwards until the mattress stood on it’s side. It was like stabilizing the Great Wall of China after a minor earthquake.
With a great leap of faith that my man could hold that wobbly slab upright, I cruised to the other side of the bed to receive the top as he allowed gravity to slowly ease it back toward resting on its new side. What with the sheer weight of the mattress, and gravity doing what it does, we quickly discovered a tactical error in judgement as the top of the thing came crashing down toward me, knocking the lamp off the nightstand on its way. We had not pulled the mattress over far enough for it to land and settle into its proper place atop the box spring. The Great Wall of Mattress slammed into my feeble awaiting hands and I was rudely shoved into the dresser behind me. There I was, trapped in an avalanche of bed works with a stomach full of satiny, but not too slippery, fabric. Luckily, I could still breathe well enough to start yelling at my stunned husband to free me immediately.
He attempted to pull the bedding away from me. It was a struggle as my end required a bit of lifting to become level with the box spring, and my arms were uselessly pinned against the dresser. My rescuer had no alternative but to abandon his side of the dilemma and run around to my side to lift the mattress upward as he shoved until my hands were free to add to the battle and I could use the dresser as leverage to push that load forward. Once we maneuvered the mattress into place, we assessed the damage as our belabored breathing settled to a normal pace. We both collapsed onto the fresh side of our pricey pallet, too exhausted to even walk to the fridge for a celebratory beer.
We considered the future completions of this task. We agreed it was a necessary thing to do (twice per year) but not on the best method for doing it. How will we accomplish this when we are 75? Never mind that. How will we accomplish it six months from now? We needed to be more strategic so as to not repeat the crushing experience of having our beloved sleeping apparatus spend the night on top of one of us! This is what we came up with: We would slide the mattress to one side and then tilt it upright onto its edge–just as we had done before. Then I would scramble around to the opposite side and push the bottom edge in the same direction so that the mattress teetered on the brink of the box spring. Then I would get out of the way as my guy let the wall of mattress fall onto what was previously its topside. Shifting and shoving it into place would follow.
On our next flipping day, we put the plan into practice. We had not taken into consideration how difficult it would be to a) hold the mattress upright while feeble attempts were made to push the bottom of it and b) push the bottom of it. I used my hands. I used my feet. But there was the span of the box spring to reach over in order to make contact with the bottom of the mattress edge. Pushing it wasn’t easy, but after six or seven attempts at shifting it, I finally made it move over far enough that we could allow it to fall into place without crashing down on anything other than the nightstand, which we had prudently moved out of the way. Then with a victorious heave, we wrestled that behemoth into its rightful position.
Over the past 4 ½ years, each time we have performed this magic trick, we make note of just how much harder it gets as we age. We know there will come a time we’ll need to hire a couple of college kids to complete this task. We will most likely stand nearby giving them precise directions for avoiding the destruction of human limbs and furniture. If they listen and follow our advice, I’ll promise them a nice cold beer to go with the premium wage we’ll pay them for this totally flippin’ experience.
The things we do for love,
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