New mattress, but no money to put under it

The Great Mattress brouhaha began shortly after Thanksgiving when Kathy alerted me to several colorful advertisements extolling the virtues of several brands.

The Great Mattress brouhaha began shortly after Thanksgiving when Kathy alerted me to several colorful advertisements extolling the virtues of several brands.

The old mattress had provided us with comfort since our wedding. It was, Kathy had determined, well beyond its expiration date.

The timing couldn't have been better. Several stores advertised those once-in-a-lifetime deals that seem to be offered every other month. Free delivery and old mattress pickup made their offers much too enticing for any discriminating shopper.

I sprung to the old mattress' defense. It fit the body's every nook and cranny like a $30 pair of gloves. The mattress' bad side was mine -- due to surplus poundage, no doubt. Since I had accepted its faults, Kathy shouldn't mind.

A new mattress, I added for emphasis, was a luxury and as such, an expense that could be avoided. Besides, the Christmas gift list was long and our budgetary discipline ruined.


A purchasing plan

Kathy offered what appeared to be a much too easy solution. We wouldn't buy each other birthday or Christmas gifts. Thus we would save money by sacrificing all for a springy new mattress. We could, at the logic's essence, save money by spending more of it. Her thinking seemed flawed, but the federal government has used that approach for decades.

The kicker -- and there always is one in these deals -- is that a spouse who says they are willing to sacrifice all for one big gift still wants a birthday or Christmas marked in a small way.

Kathy hinted that a new mattress might even help me stop snoring, which she says reaches window-rattling sonic-boom decibels. Like a military force in full retreat, I engaged in delaying tactics until the last possible moment, which in this case was a couple days before the mattress sales ended.

They delivered it the next day and took away my old friend. The new mattress' virtues include being firmer and standing much taller in the frame, which was a problem because I prefer to roll into bed like a lazy walrus rather than jumping like a kangaroo.

Kathy took those comments to be not-so-veiled criticism. I assured her none was intended. Sam, never shy about offering his two cents, said that the mattress had the gentle consistency of a 2-by-4 board.

To my utter amazement we followed through on our no-other-gifts pledge. The mattress seemed little comfort when Christmas and birthday came with no gift to unwrap.

More spending ahead


We have settled into January's dull routine, which was abruptly broken when Kathy announced that she would accompany Sarah to a wedding show in Rochester to check on dresses and other necessities. To that point, I had successfully put the spring wedding into the dankest recesses of my mind.

Kathy and Sarah are handling everything, leaving me with the choice of a tuxedo or suit.

"Do you know how much mother-of-the-bride dresses cost?" Kathy asked.

"About $100," I said, figuring a dress might run about the same as a new suit. I don't own a suit -- unless you count the 20-year-old one that was last worn 50-odd pounds and a decade ago.

"They run $300," she said.

It seemed wasteful to spend that much on a dress that will be worn only once.

Kathy found a solution for that, too. It seems women need a formal dress when they are on a Caribbean cruise.

Alas, the only cruise that we can afford at present is an inner tube trip down the Zumbro River come summer. Kathy would certainly be a tad overdressed for such an occasion.


I'm hopeful there will be no more talk about a cruise. In a mariner's words, it is becoming increasingly apparent I may be up the Zumbro without a paddle.

Mychal Wilmes is managing editor of Agri News.

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