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HomeHumorThe Papa Files: Gonna Hang a Hammock

The Papa Files: Gonna Hang a Hammock

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For years my wife has complained about how uncomfortable our bed is. We have slept on it for many years before she started complaining, and I’m not sure when it suddenly stopped being comfortable for her. In the military, I spent many nights in a hut on a cot with a horsehair blanket (and no matter which way I turned, my arms kept going numb), and other nights in a two-man tent in a sleeping bag (and I was always freezing in the mid-winter hills of Germany), and tried to snooze on half a poncho (covering myself with the other half when needed during the night) on the hot ground of Texas. So our bed always felt fine to me. But no. Nooooo. She decided to buy one of those adjustable beds.

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It has two mattresses, each with its own remote. We can raise the top and the bottom of our sides to several angles, and there are even presets: Favorite, Flat, Zero G, Snore, Partner Snore, Watch TV, and Read. I was particularly interested in the “snore” settings, but it turns out the bed cannot turn my wife onto her side and slap a CPAP on her face.

I experimented, adjusting it up and down, but nothing works better than two pillows behind my head. Unlike a recliner, which has a sharp angle between the back and the seat, this bed bends in a curved bowl shape, and so I found that no matter how I adjusted it, the weight of my body forced me to slide down until my butt reached a flat surface, and by that time I was suffering from a wedgie. Nope, not gonna have my privates squished, and not gonna get up every thirty minutes during the night to pull my shorts back down, and I am not gonna sleep naked! I plan to keep the bed flat. My wife informed me that I simply don’t know what my number is. Of course I know my number: it’s 42, but the bed won’t let me set it to that; it can only change in increments of five. And besides, the number has to do with the stiffness of the mattress, controlled by air pressure.

During that first night, I rolled over and tried to drape my arm around my wife’s waist, but instead, my forearm landed on the top of her nose, because she was in one of the upright positions. I don’t like it. Oh, I know what this is actually all about: her brothers and sister, who have such a bed and swear by it, talked her into getting one, and I believe it’s a “misery loves company” kind of thing. Years ago my father talked me into getting a water bed because he bought one. It was great, he said. But no matter how much I filled it, I always had to sleep on my back because the water won’t stay flat. I had always slept on my front and sides. Later, he admitted that he didn’t like it either. So, is it human nature to want to justify a wrong decision by convincing others to make the same dumb choice? I don’t know, but it seems that way.

I’m now tempted to bypass my wife’s quest for better sleep (though she has not said a thing, good or bad, about the adjustable) and put a hammock in my office. Since I spent a few years sleeping only on my back on a waterbed, I think I can quickly get used to the same limitation on a stretch of netting or fabric hung from one wall to another. Unlike the wall-mounts of my guitars and such, though, I’d have to make sure the hammock is screwed into studs. Not sure which walls I’ll hang it from, but perhaps it doesn’t matter. When I wake up in the morning, I’ll unhook the hammock and store it in my closet, out of the way of my daily pursuits. And the pillow I bought from TV, which is full of little bumps and makes my head sweat, might work better on a netted bed that can swing. Mostly, I want a simple sleeping surface that doesn’t insist upon itself, that doesn’t require me to thumb a remote. Yeah, I think I’m gonna hang a hammock.

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