It says something about my upbringing that I read The Thurber Carnival when I was much too young to understand most of it. I giggled insanely through Thurber’s story “The Night the Bed Fell,” partly because I’ve always had an affinity for slapstick and mayhem and partly because it seemed like something that only happened to people of James Thurber’s hapless stripe.
I have not been nine years old for a while, and I’ve suddenly discovered that Thurber does not have a monopoly on hapless.
We have always lived in old houses and never bothered much about renovation, preferring to live with the quirks, and now I know why. In terms of disruption to one’s life, renovation rates right up there with moving. We have gone from living in a four bedroom, three bath house to living in a house with one bedroom and three quarters of a bath, all because we’re having our personal bathroom redone. Our old bathroom, it turns out, was leaking in four places, and those leaks were about to make our dining room ceiling become one with the floor. It had to go.
And since it had to be ripped back to the studs, we lost the use of our bedroom as well. We moved downstairs, but our clothing is spread across the other two upstairs bedrooms, on the flat surfaces that, in happier times, we could sleep on in an emergency. The upstairs bathroom sink has gone on the fritz for some reason, and the toilet in that bathroom is leaking. The downstairs sink had a slow drain, and I rendered it useless by putting a coat hanger through it in a misguided attempt at unclogging it. We DO have a shower down there, and the toilet in that bathroom is new because I broke the side out of the old one trying to fix the float valve. You get the idea.
So we are sleeping in a place that has a shower and toilet, but no sink, and now it has no bed.
It HAD a bed. We bought one to replace the bed our Oldest Daughter took with her when she moved out. We just didn’t buy an expensive bed, because, we reasoned, nobody would be sleeping in it much, and the people who did would be relatively small and light. The mattress is great, and that’s where we spent the money. The frame . . . let’s just say it did not survive the Boy horsing around during the summer. He broke one side rail and all the slats.
To his credit, he fixed them, but the new side rails were apparently made of aluminum, because they bent immediately, even with small, light people using the room for a week in August. The new slats were just barely holding on, but they were holding on, until we had to move downstairs.
We are many things, my Beloved and I, but we are not small and light. We made it for a whole week, and then, as I attempted to gently and carefully remonstrate with my spouse for his ability to curl up and go to sleep on a moment’s notice, the whole thing collapsed again.
Yes, James Thurber would have been proud of the way the part of the bed that contained my beloved’s head and shoulders slowly slid floorward, while the slats popped loose like a zipper coming unzipped. When the mayhem stopped, he was lying with his head jammed between what was left of the bent frame and the headboard. The dog, who always shows up for emergencies, in case someone feels compelled to comfort him with treats, started to lick his head in an attempt to revive him. He felt so revived that he was able to leap up, only to become entangled in a knot of sheets, blankets, and pieces of splintered wood.
When the dust settled, we had no functional rails and, significantly, nowhere else in our house to sleep. Now we’re sleeping on a mattress and box springs on the floor. We’re using parts of two bathrooms and our clothing is spread from hell to breakfast. We are expecting two thirds of our children this weekend for a wedding, and we have no idea where they’re going to sleep; we think the floor is a good bet. If it’s good enough for us . . .