The first rule when it comes to shopping for a new mattress: wear pants.
Having your legs covered and independent from one another is necessary to mattress shopping, since you will be laying in bed after bed… after bed….after bed…all afternoon with salesmen staring down at you.
How do I know this? Because yesterday I went shopping for a new mattress, PANTSLESS, and now realize the error of my ways.
It didn’t help that I was shopping for a mattress with both my parents.
My dad was particularly annoyed that I was wearing a short jean skirt. He frowned as I awkwardly laid my purse on top of my legs so as to not flash the staff at Sears.
I claim ignorance!!! This was the first time I have ever picked out a new mattress in my life.
In college, when I moved out of the dorm, I got a mattress from Sam’s Club, which was wrapped in visqueen and under $100. (And it felt like it, too!)
After SEVEN years of sleeping on that mattress (...my poor ex-boyfriends haha...), I finally bought another one off Craig’s List that I had hoped would get rid of the knots in my upper back.
It came from my neighbors across the street, a nice lesbian couple, who were moving out of the state. I spent $150 on it and a matching box spring and took comfort (huh huh) in the fact that it had a Sealy tag.
That mattress did its job for about four months. But, then, slowly, over the past HALF A YEAR, my back started turning on me again.
I wake up in the middle of the night to terrible back pain and re-arrange my body, to no relief.
I've tried laying on my back, my stomach, my side and a number of other contorted, fetal-like positions. I've tried to sleep with a pillow between my legs.
A featherbed on top of the mattress made it worse.
I deduced that my back problems must be my bed’s fault, since I don’t have back pain when I sleep over at other people’s houses, on other people's mattresses. (uhh....earmuffs, mom.)
After months and months of talking about it, Sunday afternoon was the day I bit the bullet and properly looked for a new mattress.
Both my parents joined me on this adventure for moral support and negotiating help, since I can't negotiate 50 cents off a pair of earrings at a market. I was told that buying a mattress is like buying a car and you should NEVER pay the sticker price.
It was strange looking at all the mattresses and beds that were available. I can’t remember the last time I was even in a mattress section of a store.
I looked dejected as I read the $2,000-plus price tags on sleep number things and Temperpedic things and mattresses that cool you off when you sleep and promise to change your life.
“Go ahead, lay down in one!” my mom insisted.
I had thought that just pressing my hand onto the mattress was as good a test as any.
“Really?” I asked. “Just lie down on one?”
I awkwardly flopped onto a bed and stared at the ceiling (while pulling down my skirt.)
“Don’t worry about your shoes,” said the saleswoman.
At first, I didn’t know what I was looking for.
Obviously, I wanted something that would blow me away with its comfortableness, but that’s hard to do when you have no blanket, no pajamas and the pillows feel like they’re stuffed with newspaper.
I initially thought all the beds were comfortable, equally. But then, as we went from store to store and I laid down in bed after bed, Goldilocks took hold.
“This one’s too hard!!
This one’s too soft!!! (Well, actually, I never said that. I don’t think a bed can ever be too soft.)
This one’s not as comfortable as the one I laid in at the first store!”
And then awkward moments popped up, because that’s obviously what happens when you bring your parents along mattress-shopping at age 29.
“How long does the mattress last?” My mom asked a woman as I was testing out the plushness of a European model.
“Well…” the lady said. “That depends on what you DO on it.”
My mom looked at me in an accusatory way.
I glared at the saleswoman.
“Well…I mean…if she (pointing at me) has three kids jumping on it every day, well, then it won’t last as long.”
(Side note: Do I LOOK like I have three kids? Do you think someone who has three kids is shopping for a mattress with her parents????)
Another salesman told me that I shouldn’t just buy the mattress by itself, but with the matching box spring, even though I told him my box spring is perfectly fine.
“You may think it’s fine, but when you have more than one person sleeping on it…” he said. "Especially a larger person..."
My mom looked at me in an accusatory way.
After more than four hours of browsing, we found the winning mattress. It came from a small mattress store and was so, so, so, so comfortable, and within my price range.
It will be delivered on Thursday. My back is tingling with delight.
The salesman was very nice and very accommodating and even pulled the mattress out from an upright position on the wall when I told him my affinity for “plush.”
“Try this one,” he said as I flopped onto it. I was immediately bowled over. I think I did a snow angel.
“I LIKE IT!” I exclaimed as my dad told me that I needed to lay in it for at least 15 minutes, according to the people at Consumer Reports.
My dad then convinced the guy to knock a bit off the price, the shipping and the tax. It was perfect.
Yet, right as we were about to leave, that salesman managed to embarass me by up-selling me a mattress cover, as if I’m the kind of person who soils her bed.
“Great for incontinence!” the package read in big letters. I raised my eyebrows.
“It’s not just for spills, it’s also to soak up your sweat and dead hair and skin cells,” he said, to my horror. “Those things can make your mattress greasy.”
“You absolutely need that,” my mom said immediately.
I gave her an accusatory look.
(At least he knocked that to half-price, too.)
I am now counting down the days until Thursday, when I will be sleeping soundly on my very own, brand new bed (and cover), one that will wash my back pain away with its puffy, marshmellow-y goodness.
I hope it’s still as comfortable when I’m wearing pants. :)