Selfish? Absolutely! Long Live the King

Credit: Robin Breeding


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When I was a baby, I slept in a crib. I have no proof this occurred, but I’m giving my parents the benefit of the doubt since Renee and Ed Reiss didn’t seem like the kind of people to put their baby in a dresser drawer or bathtub. I am also assuming I slept alone. It is possible my older brother or sister might have joined me on a stormy night, but I doubt it. The Reiss children were a tough lot. Thunder and lightning would hardly be enough to make us huddle in fear. Finally, I am assuming that the crib was comfortable and of sufficient size to afford me a more than adequate night’s sleep. Babies need a good night’s sleep. So do adults. So do I.

At some point, my parents moved me from the crib to a bed. I suspect this is true because eventually my six-foot frame and 195-pound body would have exceeded the height and weight limitations of a crib designed for little babies. There is no physical record of my transfer from crib to bed, just as there is no record of the crib’s existence. Nonetheless, I’m confident my parents did the right thing. Let’s just say that my imaginary yet real crib existed and that my departure took place sometime between the age of three and four.  

For the next fifteen years or so I slept in a perfectly fine twin-size bed. Occasionally, and as I got older, I shared my bed with consenting partners, smarter than I, who recognized the bed’s dual function. For me, however, its primary role was to ensure a solid eight hours of shut-eyed sweet dreaming sleep. Once, when my parents were away, I attempted a sleepover with a visitor. It didn’t work. A twin bed, which by name implies satisfactory space for two people, has room for only one. Two people in a bed designed for one is a bit like an egg with two yolks. It’s an interesting anomaly, physically possible, but ultimately uncomfortable and off-putting. I yearned for more.

At college, it only got worse. One would hope forward-thinking college administrators would recognize the sleeping needs of their students and provide appropriately sized beds for personal and academic growth. That was not to be. Not only was my dorm room bed a twin, but there was another twin on top of it. Yes, I went to college for an education, but I also wanted to spread my wings and not have them fall off the edge of a mattress.

I came to realize there was a direct correlation between one’s bed size and one’s status in life. I was a serf, carrying out the assignments of parents and professors, begrudgingly grateful for a bed to sleep in and a roof over my head. Something needed to change.  

The day I left college was the day I bought a full-size bed. No longer a serf, I was more like a lord, knowing someday I might gravitate to queen or king. I was a completely comfortable single person enjoying excellent sleep in my full-size bed. However, I also continued to have occasional visitors, some of whom opted to join me in sleep. It was nice to have company, but I felt a little cramped in a bed that was, as advertised, full. It was time to move up the monarchy.

The last visitor to my bed, my wife, Paula, is still with me. Early in our marriage we purchased a very comfortable queen-size bed. Our status in the world instantly improved, and an extra six inches in mattress width seemed to provide just enough space for all those dreamy nights. That is, until it didn’t.

The older I got, the less comfortable I was with my queen. I was getting wider, but the bed was not. None of this seemed to bother my wife, who was happy to share our seemingly shrinking space. In fact, the closer we got, the happier she was. I wanted to be a good husband and keep her satisfied, but I also wanted my space, my sleep, and my uninterrupted rest. Selfish? Absolutely! Long live the king.

I watched in awe as our king-size bed was assembled, knowing that within a matter of hours my life would change. I could hardly wait to drop my body on its enormous mattress, counting the minutes until bedtime. And what a night it was! The air was crisp, and the moon was full. Birds were chirping, creating a sweet harmony to the sound of the swaying leaves pushed side to side by a cool yet peaceful wind.   

I reached across the bed to Paula, spreading my arms and legs as if I were creating a snow angel on the mattress. And then the most wonderful thing happened. I pushed my arms out as far as they could go, thinking for sure there would be bodily contact. Yet, as hard as I tried to extend my limbs, no contact was ever made. Finally, at last, as if I was joyfully sleeping again in the crib that may or may not have existed, I had found my nocturnal nirvana. It was so big!

For a brief moment, I thought I might shimmy over to Paula and kiss her goodnight. But as tempting as that was, restraint got the better of me. Instead, I closed my eyes and joyfully fell asleep, knowing she was somewhere in the bed, the constant visitor I adore, quietly giving me space for my dreams.