THE other day I let my mind wander through all the places where I lived in my youth. There are almost 30.
In most of the dorm rooms, boarding house rooms, rooms in shared houses, one-room apartments and sleeping-nooks-behind-the-wardrobe where I laid my head at night, I slept on a single bed. Usually one with a pine frame and one of those brown-with-yellow-and-orange-flowers sponge horrors of a mattress.
I drank tea, read, chatted with pals, made love, fought and studied on single beds — and sometimes even slept. Even today, my bed is my universe.
I discovered the wonder of a large bed fairly late in my life. And it's not any old large bed, it's a super king-size with extra support for the back. I bought it for next to nothing from a luxury self-catering unit that closed. It had to be carried into our room in two instalments.
Yesterday I looked on the internet to determine exactly how big today's increasingly popular giant beds are. My super king measures an impressive 183cm x 200cm. But there are even bigger beds. Here in South Africa, the company Sloom markets the Cape Town King, which measures 214cm x 200cm.
In the US there are (obviously) even bigger beds. The Alaskan King measures 274cm x 274cm. There, you probably phone your sleeping partner to say good morning before you Uber over for a morning kiss.
And, just to blow your mind even further, there is a Family XL of … drum roll … 366cm x 213cm! Given its name, I assume you simply raise your family on the bed and leave it only for groceries or the bathroom.
‘The Princess and the Pea’
I had an extra stroke of luck because the guesthouse owner threw in a freebie: a supersoft feather duvet with a well-used fitted sheet, duvet cover and pillowcases, made of the finest, softest cotton. Sometimes I rub the cloth between my thumb and forefinger and wonder how I could ever have tolerated anything else against my sleeping body. I am probably related to The Princess and the Pea.
However, there was a price to pay for this new luxury. Because a bed is a thing that needs to be made after washing day. And if your bed is as big as a continent and you are a descendant of princesses with round hands, it can cause quite a commotion.
When I first washed the bedding, I had to violently force the yards of cloth into our small washing machine. Afterwards, I had to fish out the wet white cotton.
Attempts to unbundle the duvet cover after the spin cycle were in vain. At the washing line, I attempted to hang up the tumbled yards of cloth, my arms above my head. I looked like a wet ghost. I swore like a trooper.
The duvet cover
Before attempting to fit the duvet cover, I took long steps along the foot of the bed. The cover, unbundled at long last, was placed on top of the duvet to try to work out which was the width and which the length.
First, I set up tent by trying to crawl into the cover with the duvet. It was a complete disaster. “Babyyyy!" I shouted, my bum in the air, “Come and help!" My long-suffering Baby showed up reluctantly — he already knew it was going to be a shitshow.
We decided to try the fitted sheet first. We managed to tuck two corners neatly under the mattress. “It's not going to work," Baby offered helpfully and folded his arms. Grimacing, I persisted on my own and threw myself over the bed with corner number three in my fist. When I pulled the third corner diagonally across the bed and tried to push it in at the top, all I heard was “pooiii!" and the thing shot loose behind me.
Together, we tried again. It shot loose again. I sweated profusely. His lips were getting thinner. On the third try, the damn fitted sheet finally stayed put.
Google to the rescue
In the meantime, I Googled “How to pull a very large duvet cover over a very large duvet”. One of the methods involves turning the cover inside out, pushing your arms in until your hands are stuck in the two corners of the width, then grabbing the duvet by its farthest corners with the cover in your hands, then flipping the duvet cover right side out over the duvet.
My beloved offered more assistance: “It's not going to work." He's a Virgo. They are practical beings.
I managed to get hold of the corners with the inside-out cover in my fists, my arms in the air once more. This time I look like a dry ghost. “Boo!" I told my now grumpy boyf to lighten the atmosphere a bit. He didn't laugh.
“It's in the wrong way,” was his only contribution.
I gritted my teeth, wrestled the cover over the duvet and clipped it shut at the bottom with tight lips.
A sparkling white cotton disaster
The duvet was in the wrong way after all — it was bundled up on one side and on the other there was about 30 cm of empty cover.
Baby decided to go and water the garden to cool down. I poured myself a substantial glass of wine. That night we slept under a bundled duvet. We were simply too tired to try again.
Almost two years later, we are still struggling. Any advice would be highly appreciated.
♦ VWB ♦
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