I’ve never given much thought to mattresses. They were just there on the bed. Two years after my father died and the world as I had known it collapsed, I had many mattresses. Having sold the house, I moved around from apartment to apartment with a personal nurse, my mother. As I grew up, I lived with one brother or sister or another. Sometimes I had my own bed, sometimes a couch.

The worst mattress I ever had was the one I drew from the quartermaster room in the Air Force at Lackland Field in Texas. The quartermaster, in this case, was Cpl. Truman, a name not easy to forget. Cpl. Truman handed me two blankets, two sheets and a mattress.

The mattress in this case was, as most veterans can tell you, about an inch thick. You could put a dime on the springs and tell whether it was heads or tails when you slept on it.

You could have fallen asleep on the street in the middle of Michigan Avenue in Chicago, during rush hour.

It just didn’t matter. Sometimes we’d be so tired, we wouldn’t even roll the mattress down; we’d just fall asleep on the springs.

As a young actor in New York, my bedding situation varied. New York actors have to improvise living situations. (Don’t worry, I’m getting to the point.)

Five of us were sharing a huge two-room and kitchen on West 86th Street. There was one bed, a twin; three couches, two found on the street on trash day; and the floor. We had a kind of lottery. Sometimes I got a couch, often the floor, almost never the bed.

We kept all of our clothes in suitcases and shared one humongous walk-in closet with 67 wire hangers.

When I first met She, who lived alone in an nice but small apartment on the snazzy upper East Side, full of sweet girl smells, I tried to keep my living quarters a secret. None of us who were dating ever brought our girls to the apartment, where the scents were a mixture of various colognes, garlic and body odors.

When I went out on a date with She, who was Kay then, I always managed to look like a successful actor. She knew better but looked the other way.

Then one day, quite by surprise, she appeared at the door of the Man Cave. She had decided to surprise me by taking me out to a late breakfast at the Tip Toe Diner on the corner. I tell you this now in absolute truthful detail.

Even though I tried to keep her at the door, she took two steps in. Then, like now in this 56th year of our marriage, she didn’t believe a word I said. After the first step, a long sniff and glance around, she turned an ashen gray, stepped back out, and said she’d meet me at the diner.

That following night at dinner in her spotless, sweet-smelling apartment, she said she felt sorry for me and that I could move in with her, but had to sleep on this 1-inch thick mat in the far corner.

“On a mat?” I groaned.

“Gandhi slept on the bare floor,” she offered.

So I was in love with a history major? Of course I accepted. When she asked what I slept in, I said my shorts and T-shirt. She got that gray color again, and said that wouldn’t do, and asked my size.

Before I moved in, before Christmas, she went to Macy’s and got me a pair, God’s truth, of blue “bunny” pajamas, complete with feet. That’s what I slept in, on the mat like Gandhi, on the floor, in a posh lavender-walled apartment that smelled of powder, perfume, good coffee and some kind of room spray. No garlic.

The point: This week, we bought the most expensive mattress we’ve ever had. I discovered that mattresses don’t come cheap anymore. In fact, it’s a tossup between getting one like this, or the new car.

This deluxe model, counting the new box spring, rises about 6 feet off the floor. When I sit up, my feet dangle in space like a child’s.

Yes, it’s a long way from Mama’s couch, Truman’s bedding in Texas, the gulaglike collective on West 86th Street, and Gandhi’s mat on the floor on the upper East Side.

A guy could do worse. At least I don’t have to go out to get the paper in a blue bunny suit.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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