"Dad, you need a new bed," Herbie said. "It's a game changer."
He'd bought a California king from Costco a few years ago and I don't think he's had a bad night since.
When you're sleeping well, you can sleep on a bed of nails under burlap sheets with your head resting on pillows flatter than French pancakes.
When you're in the groove, you can drink a beer before bed, throw down a shot of tequila, eat an order of spicy chicken wings, finish the evening with a slice of chocolate windmill cake from Urichhio's, watch "Silence of the Lambs" and never have a nightmare or turn over once in bed.
Sleeping is the most automatic of pleasures and the least automatic when things can go sideways. You'd give anything, buy anything and take anything for a good night's sleep.
I could open a sleep store. I have bottles of ibuprofen, Advil, Advil PM, Trazodone, Sound Sleep, melatonin, RediCalm and Avinol PM lined up on my bathroom counter like small squatty soldiers awaiting service. If I had a dark overcoat with lots of hidden pockets, I could go into business.
Maybe a new bed was the answer. I'd take advice from almost anybody on the subject, especially someone from the younger generation like Herbie because they are not research-averse. They will travel to the end of the internet looking for the best price and product and be cheerful when they return.
Research makes me tired. Not tired enough to fall asleep but enough to make me want to go outside and take a walk in the sunshine.
How old was our bed? Dad gave us that bed 15 or 20 years ago. He was giving and we said yes. It had to be good, it was Dad's bed.
Beds are like politics and religion. Everybody has an opinion and most are heartfelt and passionate. People swear by DreamCloud, Posturepedic (with its medical-quality foam), Simmons, Beautyrest and Puffy. They bandy around phrases like spinal alignment, pressure release and beds that sleep cool.
Where have I been? It all sounds wonderful. May I have one of each?
Sleep enthusiasts will tell you that beds are a part of the trifecta that include sheets (eucalyptus, bamboo and Egyptian cotton with 1,000 thread count) and pillows (the Marriott collection is quite popular along with the side-sleeping Claritins known as the allergen barrier side sleeper king pillow).
I couldn't tell you where our sheets come from — the closet? The pillows, they've surrendered whatever name-brand glow they had by being beaten down by sweaty heads, knobby knees and a thousand hugs.
Recently I drove to Action Sports for a new set of bicycle tires and then stopped into Urner's Z's Please Mattress and talked to Rodney, a product specialist, also known as a mattressologist. Rodney has tried 18 different beds in the last couple of years and has trained more than 20 salespeople. If there were a doctorate in beds, Rodney has it.
Given his expertise, and the fact that his goatee gave Rodney even a more professorial look, I followed Rodney around the showroom like a puppy.
Like a good teacher, with a sense of humor, he suggested I read, "Why We Sleep," because it was a "real eye-opener."
"There are three different kinds of beds: the traditional, which feature old-fashioned box springs, memory foam and then the hybrids, which combine the strengths of both," said Rodney, cutting to the chase.
Sealy, Serta and Simmons have been the three main brands over the last 100 years, which Rodney likens to "Ford, Chevy and Dodge trucks."
"They're all good but people like what they like."
Rodney had made the bed and now I wanted nothing more than to lie down, close my eyes and be transported to nighty-night land.
"Try some of these beds and get a feel for them," he said. "You don't even have to take your shoes off."
"Off" was still echoing in the showroom and I was already prone. I went from one bed to the next. There wasn't a runt in the litter.
I tried three beds from the Simmons line and almost went Lights Out Johnson on the most comfortable of the three: the Beautyrest Cayman Plus, a traditional bed with box springs.
Would you mind if I lay here for a few hours? I'll be quiet, I won't drool and if another customer comes in you can point to me as Exhibit A.
“Look at that guy. He is a goner. That must be some bed."
I didn't think a bed could get any more comfortable but then for an extra $1,000, Rodney showed me a doohickey that could raise and lower the bed both at the feet and the head.
"Why do you think people sleep in recliners?" he said.
I spent an hour there, leaving because it was getting dark outside and I'd told Sue I'd be home for dinner. When I opened my eyes, I looked up at the wall above the front door which read: "Come to Me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Mathew 11:28.
That's how important mattresses are. They have their own Bible verse. Maybe a mattress won't save your soul, but it might be salve for everything else.