Sunday, February 14, 2010
137 Pounds of Stink
The above does not refer to me, by the way. For one thing I weigh 131.5 lbs (curse, curse, swear, swear), and for another, I'm one of those people who thinks themselves ill-done to if I don't have a huge array of nice smelling bath products that I can use frequently. No, the stinking poundage refers to an investment of sorts. Let's begin:
Many years ago my husband, one of those people who thinks mountain biking a completely reasonable activity to undertake, because sweating in the merciless sun over rough terrain strikes him as fun, hit a patch of brush up in the high country. He was out with a group of friends and here is what they saw: My husband, scooting down a trail, astride his trusty bike, arms rigidly locked in place to absorb the shock of the many rocks, and the uneven quality of the ground, approaching a cliff. Then he appeared to attempt a motor-cross style stunt by performing a flying headstand on his handlebars, before disappearing from sight, over a cliff.
I'm told this was terribly unsettling to witness, and I'll just say, jeez, ya think? So, his friends rushed to the cliff, peered over it with a mixture of horror and nausea, where they spied my husband splayed out on a handy bush that had broken his fall, his bike at least thirty feet below, and his posture indicating that he had a few structural problems with which to contend.
My husband, upon realizing that miraculously he wasn't as dead as he thought he would be, stared back at them, his right arm at a crazy angle, and pinned partially beneath his body. He gingerly attempted to move, and his shoulder let out a sound that actually caused an echoing pop in the mountains, as the dislocated bone snapped merrily back into place. Evidently, at this time, he invented no less than four new swear words. I'm guessing it sort of hurt.
I am a mass of injuries long healed also, which is part of the reason I get to wave at my husband vaguely, with admonishments to don sunscreen as he heads off on his adventures, and I read in peace, wondering why I married such a lunatic but content with the fact that I am never expected to undertake these journeys myself. Oh happy healed, broken bones, I knew they were good for something.
However, the incident with the fortuitously placed bush, and my own long healed injuries from a car accident meant that as we both reached the summit of forty and beyond, we became achey, as a couple. It's good to do things together, I'm told. On the average morning it sounds like two twin Operatic Baritones are warming up as we attempt to rise from bed on a chilly January morning. We were also both doing a mean Tasmanian Devil impersonation in the dead of night, as we individually whirled around, trying to achieve new positions with less pressure on sore joints.
As a result neither of us were getting much sleep, and you know what you don't want to add to the stress of everyday life? A guarantee of some sleep deprivation-induced surliness in addition to whatever problems the gods of fate decide to hurl at your heads.
We used the excuse of our wedding anniversary, something for which we rarely buy each other extravagant gifts, to plunk down enough cash for a Tempur-pedic mattress. The amount was not insubstantial, but hey, ninety day money back guarantee, and an aura of desperation regarding the need to get some rest, convinced us both that it was an investment well made, and so we did.
Now, as it happens, I've been fortunate enough to learn from the mistakes of others when it came to this particular mattress. The space-foam mattress, some call it. Ten years ago a friend, with a bone depletion problem, decided to splurge on one as she battled her own aches and pains. In an effort to save money, she decided to forgo a box spring of any kind. She was also budget minded enough (read: broke) to decide that the mattress would be fine on the floor of the basement bedroom she had at the time.
She informed me that the thing was punishingly firm for the first few weeks, so I knew there would be a break-in period. Whatever else she might have eventually gleaned from her time with the foam thing was lost to those gods of fate. The water heater in her basement broke, flooding the area.
In case you were wondering, those beds make really efficient sponges. The water damage to her basement was minimal, thanks to the kindness of the bed she'd splurged upon helpfully soaking up every drop of moisture with which it came in contact. It took two weeks for the thing to dry out enough to make moving its water-logged foaminess to the dumpster even remotely possible, because we will be well into the next century before it dries.
So I knew two things: At first it will be an unyielding brick and, for the love of all things merciful, don't have one of those things near a source of water unless you decide you hate it enough to essentially water-board the thing.
No one told me about the smell though. My mother has an off-brand version, she didn't mention, "Oh, and you'll likely die from malodorous quality of this, dearheart, before you ever feel its benefits." Terrifyingly, this is exactly how my mother speaks, explains a lot about me, doesn't it? My friend with the giant plumbing-sponge-disaster didn't mention that a funk would arise from it that was practically visible. The salesman, rather understandably didn't bother to outline that feature. The specimens in the mattress-store had long since aired out enough that there was no smell of latex, or petroleum, or space related science experiments, or whatever the heck that smell might be.
He did, however, mention a break-in period in which I was encouraged to "walk up and down it, bounce, break in the cells". Okay then. Super-sponge, unyielding brick, at an ungodly price evidently has cells that must be expanded. That salesman is the person who I will blame when I inevitably am plagued by nightmares in which my bed consumes me whole. Then burps with satisfaction, in keeping with the cartoon theme, I suppose.
We've had it for three weeks. Luckily, we have spare bedrooms, and we evacuated there the first night when, as it was unwrapped by helpful, and god-awful loud, installation experts the smell began to waft out. It isn't exactly a bad smell. This is not the smell of redolent death, it's just a funky, chemical, rubbery smell that you wouldn't want to roll around on for eight hours per night. We closed all the heating vents in the room, threw open the windows, cast a terrifed look at the three thousand dollar brick of stink, and fled. I am assured that this brick weighs precisely 137 lbs, by the way. Trust me, it produces enough smell for six 137 lbs mattresses.
The next morning the smell had crept out from underneath our master bedroom door, and had reached the landing of the stairs. Every day we would check it, everyday the smell seemed to air out a bit more. Why, it took less than a week for us to be able to stand within mere feet of our extravagant anniversary gift, and eye it with increasing alarm.
By the end of the week, I could even stand to be on it long enough to flop around, trying desperately to "break in the cells" while breathing through my mouth, and quietly cursing. My husband, braver than I, and with a lesser sense of smell, took the plunge and began sleeping on it at the end of that week. I continued to huddle in the guest room. Eventually I girded up my loins enough to join my husband in trying to "expand the cells". This particular quote from the salesman fascinates me, what a lovely euphemism for "squish out the smell as much as you can so that they may someday quit reeking" (implied: sucker!).
The good news is that you really don't feel it when your partner turns over in one of these beds. You are less likely to awake because of various pains causing you to shift.
The bad news is that it still has a distinct odor. Long gone is my habit of gently easing out of bed in the morning. Now I spring up and dash towards the shower, intent upon scrubbing the scent of our wild indulgence from my person. It is lessening, and since we did insist upon the ninety day free trial, I'm not too concerned. The blessed thing has exactly 60 days to stop releasing a poof of stink each time we roll over.
I'm mentioning this because nearly every person I know at some point has wistfully contemplated a Tempur-pedic mattress. They are the most expensive, so it then follows, in our consumerist society that they are assumed to be the best. It is comfortable, and the smell is decreasing (that or my sense of smell is dying, inch by inch which I don't entirely discount as a possibility).
A handy internet search with the words "Tempur-pedic fumes" provided the information that I was far from alone in being alarmed as hell by the thousands of dollars I spent to to perfume my house in a manner reminiscent of the La Brea Tar Pits.
Let this serve as fair warning to those of you contemplating your own splurge into, what marketing assures us will be, a restful night's sleep. You may eventually achieve just that, but be prepared for the need to let the bloody thing air. Also, whatever you do, don't let them "remove your old mattress" which the installation techs will happily offer to do.
You're going to need old reliable and springy until such time as you can stand the smell of your new fangled, brick-like, handy dandy, thousands of dollars worth of sponge.
It comes with free pillows, by the way, made from the same material. They too, smell like a product of Exxon, and are firm enough that you could use them as weapons in the event of a home invasion. Whee.