Let’s talk pillows.
George Bernard Shaw famously stated, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I’d like to buy Shaw a low-carb beer, or a kale salad, and personally express my gratitude for that ingenious quip of his. The great irony of his quote, of course, is that you cannot appreciate its truth until your youth has sufficiently been replaced by something far more heinous.
Folks, if you don’t already know, getting old hurts.
Nowadays, any activity, no matter how innocent, can cause great harm. A sneeze violent enough to cause a chronic lower back ache? Check. Shoulder inflammation from stretching too much before a workout? Yup. Punching yourself in the face while trying to fit your hand through a tight sweater sleeve? Absolutely. Not learning that lesson and doing it again the following day? Yeah. Sigh . . .
But nothing—and I mean nothing—is worse than waking up after a night spent on a terrible pillow. The implications of doing this have far-reaching, adverse impacts.
I used to laugh (silently, of course) as my wife would pack her own pillow whenever we traveled somewhere. A pillow is a pillow, I would think to myself. I would learn the hard way that this wasn’t necessarily true, as I’d spend several hours frantically trying to find that one hotel pillow that afforded me the best opportunity for a good night’s sleep. It took hours, because a hotel room has 42 pillows to choose from.
Stubbornly, I refused to invest in a pillow, as I routinely ignored the perils of a sore neck, throat, head, jaw, upper back, lower back, and shoulders that inevitably accompanied the buzzing alarm clock each morning. I was content to live with the pain, as well as the obnoxious snoring a cheap pillow contributed to.
My wife wasn’t a fan of the snoring though. Her intervention was necessary, for the both of us, as she must’ve rationalized that a new pillow was far more cost effective than trying to beat a murder charge. She decided to take me to a magical place in a far-off land called Bed Bath & Beyond. What I saw in the pillow section of that store changed the trajectory of my life.
Turning the corner from kitchenware to home decor, I was stopped dead in my tracks, as I witnessed a plethora of Jedi-like focused men, all practicing a communal form of pillow ritualism.
There, these individuals would wander from pillow station to pillow station, in some transcendental state of existence, as their wives looked on in approval. An elevator version of a popular Hootie and the Blowfish song played through the overhead store speakers. There was no chaos or urgency in these pillow seekers’ actions, as they would rest their weary heads on each sample before ultimately selecting the proper rectangular cushion that would come to define their overnights. The cost of restful salvation be damned!
The men all clutched their newfound purchases tightly in their arms, as if they’d just discovered the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, while their wives grabbed some ridiculously soft pillow case—the cherry on top, if you will. “It’s all going to be all right now, dear,” said the wives, as their husbands continued clutching their overpriced lifelines. Off they’d go, to live the rest of their lives in harmony.
All a man in his 40s really wants out of life is to be comfortable, and a good pillow helps. I still punch myself in the face because the sweater sleeves are too tight, but Bed Bath & Beyond doesn’t sell a cure for stupidity. Do they?