Old Gray Mare
How do you tell your sister that
her bed is ready for the compost pile? The deep six? A swayback
mare ready for the glue factory?
She has so graciously invited me
to stay for an entire week at her posh condo in the beguiling
forests of the Great Pacific Northwest Ė how can I tell her that
her broken down guest bed has made me a pig-in-a-blanket, like
dad used to cook up on Sunday mornings?
I am stupid from nine hours
travel, my ear is ringing, my head is buzzing and Iím yearning
to hit the sack. And, oh, what a sad sack it is.
I pitch and roll on it trying to
find a spot that isnít sagging to the floor. Hell, I might as
well sleep on the floor. After nearly capsizing off this
un-seaworthy Titanic I roll toward the leeward side. But at
mid-point Iím met with a spine - the hump on a camelís back Ė
and moving over that, I pitch windward. Iím thinking, ďWoman
overboard!Ē as I crawl onto the floor, cursing and wishing I
could grab a hose and pump some polyester foam back into it to
plump it up.
ďOK, suckaí, this is WAR!Ē
I retrieve a narrow blow-up
mattress my thoughtful sibling has stored beneath this leviathan
because last year I had also bemoaned the sad sack.
I sandwich the flotation device
beneath the sheets, mount it and pitch and roll like a surfer
riding the Pipeline.
By now itís about 2 a.m. and,
shocked out of my travel stupor, sleep evades me. Instead, my
brain is calculating like a CPAís in April: ďIím going to have
to stay in a hotel. Thatís gonna cost at least $500, so why not
buy her a new mattress? Iíd have something to show for my money
and if she ever invites me back, which is dubious after I tell
her how lousy her bed still is, Iíll be able to sleep in bliss
in yearly visits to come. And so will her other guests.Ē
I will reason with her, ďIím
claustrophobic. Thatís why I always get a window seat on planes.
Your mattress is trying to swallow me whole. Itís clinging to me
like white on rice. You may come in tomorrow morning and not be
able to find me. Iíll be gobbled up in mattress hell.Ē
I toss and turn, prod and poke
old Nellieís bumps, and canít begin to guess her age: 15? 20?
I fall into a fitful sleep and,
the next morning, decide to give old Nellie one more trial
night. And if itís another pillow fight, Iím gonna tell my
sister, once and for all, ďThe old gray mare she ainít what she
used to be. Itís time to put her out to pasture. And Iíll be
glad to pay for it.Ē
Depending on her reaction Iíll be
vacationing next year in Washington or Arizona. . .
The next night she unfurls a
queen-sized Zodiac and pumps it up to maximum, still trying to
ďAre you sure you want to put the
down comforter mattress pad on TOP of it?Ē she queries.
ďOh, yes,Ē says stubborn me as I
edge my way into another sleepless in Seattle night: smothered
in a marshmallow.
At about 4 a.m., I get a clue:
maybe it IS the down-filled pad thatís making this bed a white
water rafting trip. So I throw it to the floor and Ė
whodathunkit? Ė the mattress underneath is pretty OK.
The next day I eat several
portions of humble pie and, in ensuing nights, sleep peacefully.
Well, enough at least for this old mare to enjoy the rest of her
trip . . .