I had a new bed delivered, last week.
Not very exciting news in itself. But my old bed, a queen-sized mattress on a rolling metal frame, was something like fifteen years old, and its time had come. It had over the years suffered the indignities of a bed ruffle foisted upon me by an in-law around its box springs, and a headboard bought at one of those unfinished wood furniture places that, despite many go-rounds with a sander, remained splintery and treacherous enough that visitors wouldn’t even have to get near it—they’d just walk by the bedroom door and the headboard would somehow rip and snag their clothing from ten feet away.
The bed ruffle ‘mysteriously’ disappeared—swear to god, I don’t know what happened to it after I threw it in the trash—during the year I was on my own and selling the house, and when we made the move I ditched the headboard. The bed was really showing its age, though. There were definite sags where we sleep, and the bed frame itself was making creaky protests every time anyone so much as flicked a finger while lying on it. Turning over in the middle of the night made enough noise to wake the neighbors across the street. Flipping from one side to another made noises of distressed metal I hadn’t heard since I originally saw the post-iceberg scenes in Titanic.
So a couple of weeks ago, we went to a cabinetry company and bought one of those queen-sized platforms, and picked up a memory foam mattress to go with it. The former was delivered last Thursday—the company had called me the night before with the helpful news that the deliverymen would arrive sometime between seven in the morning and five in the afternoon, which I (correctly) interpreted to mean we will ring your bell at either 4:55 or when you pull down your pants in the bathroom when you need to take a quick dump, whichever comes first. So since I had to wait around all day and could be interrupted at any moment and obviously couldn’t do any work, I got to spent Thursday watching daytime television and playing Diablo 3. Simultaneously.
I’d gotten my pants back up and had rushed out of the bathroom to let the delivery guys in, and was standing around the bedroom letting them figure out how best to get the old mattress out of the bedroom. They finally managed to navigate it out the door and down the narrow, narrow hallway, and then did the same with the heavier, less-flexible box springs. The truck supervisor picked up the frame from the floor and looked at it. “Oh cheezus,” he said. He was one of those stocky Latin men with gray at the temples, but still some of the darkest hair and thickest eyebrows around. He wore a colorful tank top, a pair of ratty jeans, and some construction boots with two-inch soles that made him look a little taller than he really would have been. He was examining the frame when my spouse entered the room, followed by his cohorts bearing the bottommost portion of the new platform. “You must of been gettin’ a lot of noise with this thing, right?” he asked.
I nodded and indicated that it had, indeed, been noisy.
“Well sure, it’s ‘cause these nuts here are almost kinda shared off,” he said, pointing to a couple of fixtures on the left side, where I tend to sleep. “See that? Must’ve been a lot of. . . .” In the back of his throat, he made a fist and pumped it back and forth while he made a pair of noises that were intended to sound like rusty bedsprings—“Eek-rr! Eek-rr!”—and then followed it up with a click-click noise in his cheek and a little waggle of his eyebrows.
“Excuse me,” gravely intoned my other half, wearing a red face and slipping from the room.
The supervisor gave me a look of respect. I grinned.
While the men wrestled in the new and out with the old, I thought about all the sex that old bed had seen. I thought about Spencer, and how we fucked so hard on that bed one night that it wheeled across the floor under our thrustings until it nudged into the bookshelves opposite. I thought about the many nights he’d slept with me in it, and the pillow fortresses he’d build around himself on the other side. I thought about the men (and women) I’d slipped inside, on that mattress. I thought about the virginities I’d taken on it. I thought about the arguments it had seen, and the deep, long talks. About the words of love spoken upon it, truer than most upon any lesser altar.
That mattress had been baptized with semen, seen every sex act, every position, been the crime scene for many a broken sex law. How many faces had been planted in it while I spread their legs. How many poundings it had taken.
For a moment, I felt quite sentimental about parting with the old thing. But the new, silent, comfortable bed was soon installed, and I was willing to let go of the old, once and for all.
The supervisor was the last to leave after they’d unloaded everything. “Thank you very much for buying from us,” he said, as I handed back his clipboard with a signature on it. “I hope you enjoy that there new bed, all right? And you have a good night.” I thanked him. Then, once again he made the fist and drew it back and forth while he said in a confidential tone, “Eek-rr! Eek-rr!”
I let him give me a man-to-man high-five on the way out.