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Purchasing the mattress of our dreams

Bobby and Mark Smoller of Jericho rest easy

Bobby and Mark Smoller of Jericho rest easy now after finally finding the perfect mattress, one that is firm and soft — "a new heaven." Credit: Jill Smoller

As I have grown older, I think about stuff that previously did not interest me but is now occupying a larger portion of my waking thoughts. I'm not certain if I should attribute this to my age, or to just plain boredom.

How much time have you devoted to pondering the quality and attributes of your mattress? I don't recall thinking much about it. As a matter of fact, when I was a young boy, I found the floor as equally enticing as my bed. It was roomier, easier to get in and out of, and took less time to make and restore to order.

It mattered little where I slept then. I slept in some farmers' fields, on the top rack of a moving tour bus and on a multitude of couches. In college, I slept in an upper bunk on a mattress that, today, I would not use even as a cushion if I were working under my car.

Marriage brought a change in my life. Some of my better moments were passed sharing a single cot with my wife in our first apartment. Though it was a little crowded on that cot, it was a place in heaven for me.

Of course I now weigh almost as much alone as the two of us weighed when we shared that cot. That was the first time I was involved with a conscious decision regarding my sleeping arrangements. The choice was the cot on an outdoor unenclosed porch or a sofa-bed that felt as if we were sharing it with thousands of tiny and somewhat repulsive creatures. My wife had an absolute aversion to such creatures, so it was an easy decision.

At last, when I entered the Air Force, we bought our own bed. I was more concerned, as I recall, with the color and texture of the mattress covering than with the stuff of the mattress itself. This beauty was a full-size bed, and, indeed, we had grown into it. My wife was pregnant, and I had gained 35 pounds.

After 10 years of bliss on this chariot of dreams, my wife informed me she was being poked and prodded by the monster. It was time for a new mattress! But this time, what our bodies needed was a mattress that was really firm — hard, that is — one that didn't give an inch and would support us.

So, we bought a mattress that reminded me of a finely tuned trampoline. We spent many years bouncing around on that apparatus. In fact, it was so exquisitely sensitive that a small movement of my left big toe was translated, at times, up at the top, making my bride a bobbing-head wife.

At times, it left us more tired in the morning than when we retired the night before. In addition, there were those aches and pains as we bounded up and away, catapulted from our bed, whose size was now totally inadequate to handle our acquired girth.

We pursued this arrangement until we noted that when we traveled, we didn't hurt so much in the morning, and we felt much more rested than we did at home. Perhaps this was due to our stress-free vacations, but the evidence began to build that there was more to this newfound relief of bodily misery than the vacations alone. Considering the culpability of our mattress, we decided to seek a new one.

What were our options? How important was size? Togetherness is very important, I'll admit, but sharing every breath and every movement for the past 43 years could leave one tired and breathless. My mind reached back to those remarkable full-movement floor nights. Yes, the mattress would have to be large; indeed, huge!

Should our dream mattress be firm or soft? We needed to deposit our weary bones in some gentle, receptive cocoon while we slept off the stress of the previous day, and healed our bodies as well as our minds. Of course, it had to be firm enough to support our added tonnage without sagging under our weight.

Though I am certain that a long bed is neat, I cannot remember being involved in much longitudinal movement during the night. And different from our peripheral growth, our longitudinal development had ceased long before we were married. We also had good reason to believe that, at our age, we needn't be too concerned about a 30-year warranty. As a matter of fact, we would have been most pleased to have such a warranty on ourselves.

So we set out on the great hunt, determined to find the perfect mattress. We did our homework carefully. We learned the intricacies of mattress making — the number of coils per square inch and the diameter and makeup of the metal in the coils. We learned what mattress could warm you in the winter and keep you cool in the summer.

We were now ready for the field test. We visited mattress store after mattress store, placing our prostrate bodies, alone and alongside each other, on every product in each store. After days of trials, we were completely exhausted, causing us to we sleep soundly on our old clunker. Indeed, except for our nagging aches and pains, we almost forgot how much we needed new sleeping accommodations.

Finally, we bought our dream. It was huge enough for us to thrash about; it was firm, and yes, soft. Simply put, it was for us, a new heaven.

We love our mattress. Sometimes I have to reach out to find my wife, but she is always there. In truth, the only drawback is that we find when we travel, sometimes we have trouble sleeping. Those mattresses can't compare to what we have at home.

Mark H. Smoller,

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