I RECENTLY bought a bed frame. Nothing fancy, just a queen-sized bare-bones frame worth $100 from Jeff Bezos’ Evil Place.
I was yay close to ordering a pricier model from a local brand, but I couldn’t decide if it was worth the money or not. How big of a difference would it make anyway? The fancy brand is lighter and easier to assemble, but I could definitely use the extra cash for something more important. Right?
I did splurge on the mattress though. I had been saving up for years to buy a foam mattress worth $800, but a part of me was still hesitant to shell out that much money in one purchase. I considered settling on an IKEA mattress instead, but how comfortable would it be? And how long would it last? Sad people like myself enjoy laying on our beds, so what’s $800 for something that I could practically live on for the next five years…right?
And that’s the story of how I spent almost $1000 on a mattress and a bed frame.
While I wait for the new mattress to arrive, I continue to sleep on my airbed. I didn’t realize how quote-unquote weird this was until the world started opening up again and easing back into quote-unquote normal. I, too, was forced to open up and pretend I was a well-adjusted person by engaging in conversations with capital-p People. Ugh!
Sometimes — not all the time but a memorable enough amount of times — these conversations went into the what’s-your-living-situation-like territory. This was fair and expected given how almost everybody in my circle was in their twenties or thirties, many of whom had only recently moved in to their own homes. Telling these people that I sleep on an airbed was a surefire way to trigger either mild shock or extreme confusion.
“What do you mean you sleep on an airbed?” they ask.
“Well I, uh, sleep on an airbed,” I answer.
“Like, in your room?”
“But isn’t that uncomfortable?”
“But don’t you want to sleep on a real bed?”
Sleeping on an airbed, it appears, is against the Rules of Being an Adult, similar to how enjoying instant coffee is against the Rules of Coffee Connoisseurship, or how dating your friend’s ex is against the Rules of Feminism. Adults — well-adjusted capital-a Adults — do not sleep on inflatable furniture.
But I also learned that sleeping on an airbed only comes second to not having a bed at all. When one of my chattier co-workers Shantal learned that our other co-worker Lewis did not have a bed, she was shooketh. Shantal was friends with Lewis’s roommate, and it was the roommate who told Shantal about Lewis’s no-bed situation.
“And he brought a girl over!” Shantal exclaimed, her face wide-eyed and beaming with an unnamable expression between amusement and disbelief. “And the girl stayed overnight!”
“If a guy brought me over to his place and there’s no bed, oh my gosh!” Shantal went on. “I would get out of there as fast as I could, like my cat just died, I’m sorry I have to leave. I’m out! How do you not have a bed?”
“Maybe he’s a stoic,” another co-worker Benny suggested. “He chooses not to have a bed to make a philosophical point.”
“Or maybe he’s still waiting for the movers to deliver the bed,” was something nobody said.
“It’s not a big deal, guys,” was something I could have said.
Not having a bed — or sleeping on a fake bed — is not a big deal. Is it?
I mean, there are people back home who have never slept on a mattress ever. They sleep on banig-covered plywood which they share with their entire family, or they sleep on the floor with no banig at all because how much does a banig cost during this Golden Era anyway? Probably worth as much as gold, too, eh?
Even the idea of having your “own bed” or “own room” is a luxury for many. In the TV series Shameless, an American family of seven lives in a janky-ass house where the kids share a room and sleep on bunk beds. This portrayal of first-world poverty is practically heaven for people in developing countries where co-sleeping — sleeping on the same bed as the rest of your household — is still the norm.
Yet despite having this perspective, I still was not immune to the pressure. It sucks to admit, but I decided to replace my airbed with an actual bed precisely because of this arbitrary bougie rule that grown-ass people like myself must not sleep on a bed that requires a pump to operate.
The decision wasn’t so much about wanting to fit in, but more about having grown into a culture where consumerist ideals are exercised differently. I wouldn’t have desired, much less actively worked towards affording an $800-mattress if my circumstances were different, say, I stayed in the Philippines or chose a different career path. Something something parallel universe something something.
In any case, for whatever it’s worth, I have a new mattress arriving soon. Am I excited? Yes. Do I feel bad for spending $1000 on it? Yes times ten times ten times ten.
Feature photo by Anthony Tran.