Robert invited me to go lie on his bed at 6 pm. ‘Ohhh…Ahhh…that’s good!’ is all I can hear as I open the door. The man who is sighing with pleasure looks like a very happy customer.
Buying a bed is a strange business. The questions you are asked are a lawful violation of privacy: from confessing sleeping habits to the body shape and height of your partner, from the lordosis you developed as a kid to how much time you spend reading in bed. When my dedicated shop assistant – the same Robert I talked to when I called the shop in the morning – invited me to take my shoes off and lie on the bed, I could feel the awkwardness of the situation in all its force. I followed his advice, and prayed I had not put on my old black tights with holes. However, as I moved from a divan set to a wooden bed, from a pocket spring mattress to a latex one, running around a shop barefoot and jumping on beds not my own unleashed my childish side. Customers who have just arrived at the shop smile when they see me stretching my arms and legs and turning in bed. Experience has taught me that if you go bed shopping after a long day at work, and if the mattress is comfy enough, the risk of dozing off is quite real.
There is a bed for every need: even one with a support for a TV incorporated for those who are really into their reality shows. Recognising what is comfortable for you should be an immediate intuition – yet mattress after mattress my sense of touch goes numb. Only when Robert walks away can I really start to get a sense of comfort: I turn, close my eyes and try to imagine waking up in this new bed. To facilitate the task, this shop has even decorated parts of its ceiling with a starred blue sky – Van Gogh style.
Virtually all bed frames come with exotic female names: Amelia, Natascha, Angelina. Evoking Mrs Jolie to boost the sales of a bed clearly reveals how sexist the marketing of beds is. And it is, of course, a business for two. If you, like me, go bed shopping on your own, a strong, uncomfortable awareness of your being by yourself will be hard to avoid.
Having decided to wake up for the foreseeable future in a bed with my aunt’s name, Amelia – a bizarrely Freudian prospect – I have to fork out more than a month’s wages for frame and orthopaedic mattress. It promises to provide the ultimate sleeping experience, yet the extortionate amount paid for my new bed guarantees to make me sleepless tonight.