I have bed-making down to an art. Tens of thousands of practices over my lifetime have developed a habit and an approach that is as efficient and perfect as they come. I am precise and thorough, with the extreme attention to detail that can only be defined as meticulous. Inside of five minutes I can boast hospital corners, fluffed pillows, and perfectly aligned tucked-in sheets and blankets with not a crease in site. It’s quite the accomplishment.
Recently – and somewhat disturbingly – I found myself making the bed in our hotel when my wife and I would travel. Even though housekeeping comes along later in the day and their very job is to make the bed, the habit is so ingrained from childhood that I simply can’t leave the room without giving the bed some semblance of an orderly look.
All of this attention to bed-making has me questioning the entire practice, so let’s just put it out there. Why do we make beds in the first place? Who really sees your bed besides you and whomever you share it with? Why make it nice and neat if you’re just going to mess it up again later the same day? Or how about this: isn’t it more sanitary to leave the sheets exposed to the fresh air instead hiding them under blankets and comforters all day long?
Maybe these questions are really just excuses born from a childhood of not wanting to make my bed.
In the classic children’s novel “The Twenty-One Balloons”, author William Pene du Bois imagined a fantastic bed-making device. The sheets formed a continuous loop that disappeared into the floor on both sides of the bed. The portions of the sheet below the floor passed through rollers into a flat washing machine and a drying press before looping back up to the bed. A crank inserted into the footboard would rotate the sheets exactly one width of the bed. Therefore, not only is the bed made all the time but you always have clean sheets. Brilliant!
Sometimes my wife and I wake up in the morning, and the bed looks like it’s still made even though we haven’t gotten up yet. In fact, if I carefully turn back the sheets and blankets as I get out of bed, it only takes a single tug to restore order. It’s the simplest form of bed-making. Is that my answer; learning to sleep lying perfectly still all night long so the bed practically makes itself?
More likely I should take a lesson from the not-so-classic film “Along Came Polly”. In a scene that absolutely resonates with me, Ben Stiller’s character would make his bed every day meticulously, topping it off with a dozen or more perfectly-placed decorative pillows. In an even better scene, Jennifer Aniston’s character – a wonderfully free spirit – launches an all-out assault on the pillows, reducing them to a storm of ripped-up cloth and flying feathers. And there’s the lesson. Let the bed go unmade every now and then. Forget about the hospital corners or the sheet aligning with the blanket or the arrangement of the pillows. It doesn’t matter. Goodness knows you have more important things to do with your day.