Sunday, September 17, 2006

Feeling Down? Buy a Pillow

So, I’m back at it again, vainly searching for just the right collection of cotton and batting on which to rest my weary head. Recently, I took my folks’ advice to seek shelter on a feather pillow, the very same kind my father had. I was told that his was made by his mother when he was a kid, and after laying on it for 30-some-odd years, it finally gave up the ghost and disintegrated. Every time I think about it, I picture a group of ducks in mourning standing around a coffin filled with feathers, and one leans to the other: “I never thought I'd see the day that our great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great-grandparents are finally put to rest.”

Thinking that feather pillows, in this day and age, have all gone the way of the Dodo, I was delighted to discover just such an example of bedding in the pillow aisle at the local Mother Ship (yes, Target). I gave it a squeeze and it had a reassuring resistance, heavy enough to support my needs but seemingly soft enough to provide comfort. Plus, it was feathers, the end all of pillow perfection. It's what rich heads rest on! Piled high on the cart, I took it home and looked forward to sleeping with the ducks.

Of course, I doubt they're duck feathers though. It’s probably chicken feathers or dog hair... or synthetic fibers designed to resemble duck feathers. I’m sure people have better things to do than pluck duck feathers and cram them into a cheap pillow for Target. It said feathers on the label…albeit, they failed to mention what kind of feathers they used. Horse feathers?

Either way, I looked forward to the healing help of (insert animal here) feathers to finally put to rest my quest for the perfect pillow.

First Night: I had a headache to begin with, so I figured the first night wasn’t a fair assessment of all that a feather pillow could offer, but after laying on it for nearly an hour, my head felt strange. First off, every time I moved, I could hear the crinkling of the feathers inside the pillow, and it was like putting a seashell up to your ear to hear the ocean. Only I heard quacking instead. It didn’t bother me too much, but what did was the fact that all of the weight of my head sunk down deep into the pillow and it seemed to concentrate on one solitary point on the pillow, and under the pillow case and the pillow sheathing, the solitary point was a single concrete feather, packed in there by an especially sadistic pillow stuffer. The pillow itself wasn't hard and it even had that heavy thud when I first threw it onto the bed, but that one point seemed like a iron beam thrust into my head.

My head felt like I had laid it on the sidewalk for a couple of hours. But then, I had a headache, so I figured I would need to give it another chance; you know, try to make it work, for the sake of the pillow and the 10 bucks I spent on it.

Second Night: The second night, sans the headache, was a repeat of the first night, but I figured out what the problem was: There’s not enough feathers in it. What was happening was that my head was settling down through the pillow, as all of the feathers parted to either side of the pillow like the Red Sea, allowing my head to rest on the mattress and not the feathers. Instead, they poofed out all around me, engulfing my head, so I found myself sleeping on the very corner of the pillow and mostly on my arm that was thrust under the pillow to give it some additional heft.

I awoke disappointed, which has been the usual reaction to a new pillow, and I tossed it on the pile of pillow failures ever growing in the corner of my room. What’s next? Shell out $30, $40, $150 for one of those contour pillows that is designed to cradle my head in luxurious splendor during my sleep? That’s quite a gamble for something that may or may not work, especially for the way I sleep.

That’s the conundrum I’m currently facing; Most of those pillows I’ve run across are designed for the side and back sleeper, of which, I am neither. As I previously admitted, I’m a stomach sleeper, and my favorite position is the “Heisman Trophy,” where one knee is up to the side and one arm is up under the pillow (Can’t picture it? Here), like I’m climbing a rock wall or I’m that crawling soldier in the bag of plastic Army men.

That’s how I’m most comfortable and that’s how I sleep best. Sure, there are other ways to sleep, and I’ve tried them all.

On my back, I feel like I should be in a coffin, as there’s nothing for my hands to do but fold them peacefully across my chest. Also, I snore…not like a hibernating bear, I’m told, but I do buzz through my share of logs when I’m on my back. Side sleeping is out too, as I hate it when any part of my body touches another part of my body while I’m sleeping and on my side, my legs are resting one on top of the other. When it gets hot, they stick together in that uncomfortable way a bare back sticks to vinyl car seats; plus, at some point in the night, I’ll clack my ankle bones together, and that has to be, bar none, the most agonizing pain ever to experience from the knee down. Also, on your side—let’s say, the right side—what do you do with your left arm? It’s just hanging out there and it ends up slumped over my side like dead weight and it always falls asleep to the point that it wakes me up and I have to physically pick it up with my right hand and shake the blood out of it again. Plus, either it sticks out of the covers and freezes all night or it is tucked under with me... then my upper arm sticks to the side of my chest. Sigh.

I don’t need that, so over the course of the last 12,000 nights (give or take 100 or so that I may have not slept on a pillow at all: camping, sleeping in my car… I slept in a bathtub once, didn’t have a pillow then), I’ve learned to sleep on my stomach.

Where’s the pillow made for me? It doesn’t exist, so I’ve been forced to sift amongst the riffraff designed for other types of sleepers and cobble together something that will work. I had somethign that worked rather nicely for me, but it died.

So here I am.

I thought feathers were the answer, but I guess I’m back to the drawing board, yet again.

It’s too bad, as I rather enjoyed the quacking.

An astute reader may have noticed that, besides the initial title, I avoided all of the usual tasteless and lame duck jokes (please excuse that one too)… even the easy “down.” puns that were just begging to be used.

Go on, thank me.

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