Of the many millions of beds in the world most play host to more than one occupant. At one time or another during the course of our lives to date, we have shared a bed with someone else. It might have been during childhood with a sibling, a previous marriage, or on a sleep-over. Sometime, somewhere, we’ve all had the distinctive experience of sharing the covers. If you never have, then this should be an enlightening tour if only to count and recount your blessings.
Growing up with two older sisters, there was an ongoing war for personal space. It was we younger two that shared an old double bed for years. She was little miss prim and proper who never mussed the sheets and complained bitterly as I tossed about and kicked in my sleep. If I relinquished my covers for a mere moment to cool off, she took them. No amount of tugging would get them back—wolverines are less tenacious with their prey than this one was in her death grip on that simple fold of cotton. Though the ensuing brawl brought us trouble in the form of a severely frowning parent holding the promise of a further warming in the vicinity of our backsides if we didn’t settle down and get to sleep. This sister paid me back for all the bruises I gave her by sneaking the not-yet-house-trained puppy into the bed where upon it had a bladder attack on my side in the middle of the night. It gave new meaning to the term “wee hours.”
A few years later, Mom and Dad who couldn’t stand the battling any longer, broke down and got us twin beds. Little did I know that those brief years would be the best sleep I’d ever know. Granted in a twin bed you can’t stretch out crosswise in when the other party isn’t around. Still it offers the limited comfort in that no one is going to steal your covers when you aren’t looking.
Early adulthood brought marriage, and what I felt should have been a rather blissful sleeping arrangement. What was I thinking? It wasn’t just two in the bed, but four—we had two cats at the time.
My athletic sleep patterns of childhood had given way to a more sedate repose. One cat slept on my legs making a new habit of sleeping in a stork-like posture, one knee always bent so she had her spot. If I tried a midnight shift, Muffin let me know with a low growl and snort that she wasn’t about to put up with that. The other cat, Cotton, a very big blob of white, always found a spot as to pin you down under the covers where any mobility became difficult.
The fourth party in the bed, my spouse, has his sleeping quirks too. During those early years when we were without the blessing of air conditioning during the warm seasons, he took to sleeping all over the bed. Sometimes he would wake, sit up, only to flop back down backwards—feet on the pillow and head at the foot of the bed. I swear he did it just to escape Cotton. Then there would be the fan and/or radio noise to drown out the snoring that each blames the other for. The cats all snore too.
Later came a third cat, now were five in a bed. Luckily the new cat, Spike, made his spot with hubby, but he would slowly push and stretch throughout the night until he lay horizontal across the bed while the rest of us were slowly shuffled off into a very cramped space. I would usually find myself totally immobile and raise a ruckus clearing the bed of all the felines. They would creep back later when they thought it was safe.
The topper though, was when the child came. For those first few years, she couldn’t get out of her crib, yet when her “youth” bed came we couldn’t keep her in it. We would find ourselves with another midnight visitor. That makes six on a queen-sized bed. Sleeping became a real challenge as all the contenders jostled for a precarious perch of comfort. It was short-lived for all of us.
A big-girl bed was given to our daughter. That reduced the number of nightly raids; thunderstorm events notwithstanding. Also, our two aged female felines passed on. Now we are back to three in the bed. Spike still steals the major portion of bed space when he thinks he can get away with it. And now that we have cool temperatures in the household year-round, hubby cocoons in the sheets 12 months out of the year rather than 5 or 6.
If you don’t know what cocooning is, let me tell you. It’s when one party grabs one side of the sheet tucking it close about his body and rolls over a few times to settle carefully with the ends beneath him. This may or may not leave me a half quarter of the sheet and blanket. You cannot legally or physically snatch the sheet and attempt to twirl him loose like a top. Not only does it go against the rules of the bed, you simply can’t do it. He does this in his sleep, so you must wake him up by any means necessary. Yelling “FIRE” won’t do it, I’ve tried. Neither does, “There’s a burglar in the house!” Usually, it’s just the progressively harder nudging and calling his name that will turn the trick. If you aren’t sleeping then he can’t either. It’s part of those marital bed rules too.
Finally, I think the sheet and blanket manufacturers need to be taken to task as well. Blankets, unless you measure them before you buy them, are never the right size for your bed—even when labeled. Sheets can come either separately packaged or in sets. We usually buy sets and are the sorrier for it. The bottom usually fits okay, but the flats are never wide enough for either party to have enough to roll over on to keep their fellow bed-mate from snitching them during the dark. I’ve now taken to buying separates; queen bottoms and king flats. A cheap set of sheets aren’t normally long enough either. The manufacturers are just chintzy with their quantity of fabric making sleep more restless.
The other night hubby added a new rule to the marriage bed. I had finished coddling my little one in her cramped bed amid her kicks and mountain of stuffed animals at the end of a line of thunderstorms that thought their “line” was of the Broadway chorus variety and kept taking bows. Trudging to my own bed at an eye-blinking 2:30 AM, again, my spouse had all the covers wrapped tightly about him as his frame covered the canvas of the bed. He advised the next morning over coffee that when one spouse has had control over the bed for more than 2 hours, then the other partner—IS DROOLING. I’m beginning to find the concept of twin beds more and more appealing.