Pillow Talk

“A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.” Charlotte Bronte

“Those aren’t pillows!” Steve Martin. Planes Trains and Automobiles

I’m sitting here with a sore neck and a minor yet persistent headache and I think I know why.

Yesterday, we took our daughter to IKEA to play in the balls while I hit the grocery store. The plan was I would come by IKEA afterwards and pick her and my wife up. We thought we were being super efficient, but then a thought came to me.

“How will I find you? You could be anywhere in the store.”

“I’ll be right outside the ball room.”

She reminded me that we made our way quite well in the world for years without having the ability to text, so why worry now?

She had a point.

I got through the grocery shop and made it back to IKEA but NO SIGN OF MY WIFE. I saw my daughter through the glass. She was wearing number 44 and she flew past the window and did a swan dive into the balls. I tried to get her attention but she was in her own world.

I decided that my wife must have been lured into the Blue and Yellow box and made my way up to the cafeteria. If I had an hour to kill, I would have grabbed a drink and a quiet corner and do some reading. But my wife? She could have been anywhere. I cased the place and didn’t see her, and then realized that there was no real shortcut back to the ball room. I had to meander down through the lights, carpets, glassware and patio business until I made my out into the warehouse and sure enough. There she was, just about to go through the cashiers, when I caught up with her.

“Whatcha getting?”

“Oh Hi! Just a couple of shelves for A’s room and pillows.”

“Okay. Great. Ready to go? I’m worried about the produce freezing in the car.”

We collected our daughter and off we went. At that moment, if I thought about those pillows at all, it was that the packaging looked PRETTY SMALL. But to be honest, my thoughts were on my fruits and vegetables.

It wasn’t until I got into bed that night that reality set in.

“Um, Marla. Are these the new pillows?”

“Yeah. They’re stomach pillows.”

She threw this term out to me so casually, it was as if I should have known what she was talking about.

“Stomach pillows? What do you mean? They look awfully thin.”

“Yeah, they are supposed to be thin. They are stomach pillows.”

There’s that term again.

So apparently if you sleep on your stomach, you shouldn’t really even use a pillow, but if you INSIST on using one, it should be a thin one. No matter how you sleep, the key is to keep your neck and head aligned with your spine. So if you are a stomach sleeper (like my wife) a pillow will actually push your head and neck back and cause neck pain and headaches. So the thinner the better, and the best is none.

Thing is, um, I’m NOT a stomach sleeper. I never have been. I’m an unrepentant side sleeper and this pillow looked woefully inadequate for my sleeping needs. I might as well have slipped a single piece of tissue paper into my pillow case for the amount of head and neck support it was going to offer. I started off on my back just to see how it was going to work.

I tried it out and my head leaned back and just kept going, sinking back so that if I opened my eyes I was actually looking at the bottom of the painting above our bed, not the ceiling as you might expect. I audibly sighed and maybe even swore under my breath.

“What’s your problem?” came from the other side of bed, veiled in sleep slur.

Already? I’ve been in bed like 30 seconds and she’s already 95% asleep. How does she do that?

“This pillow. It’s no good. It’s too damn thin. Where’s my old pillow?”

This whole things started because my wife noticed that our pillows were looking decidedly worn and discoloured and she had been talking about getting new ones for a few months. I guess the opportunity presented itself at IKEA that afternoon and she went for it. The International Brotherhood of Pillow Enthusiasts (IBOPE) recommends that you should replace your pillows every three years, so we are definitely overdue. More than three times overdue, actually.

But there’s an unwritten rule out there that you shouldn’t mess with another guy’s pillows, right? I think I should at least have been consulted in the whole “getting a new pillow” process. And the thing is, I probably was consulted, but didn’t pay any attention to it. If you were to replay a clip-reel of my wife asking me to think about new pillows over the past few months (and I daresay years), you’d see her asking me and then the camera would turn towards me and I’d have a blank look on my face with the sound of a test pattern over the soundtrack. It wouldn’t be a very flattering video of me, I’m sure. She probably just got fed up and grabbed a couple of pillows that work for her. I’d do the same thing if I were in her shoes. I’d grab a couple of NORMAL SIZED pillows and not give it another thought. If anything I’d expect a little “Thanks Trevor for taking the initiative!” and would be quite hurt if she responded with indifference and mild hostility, as I did to her.

This was all going through my head when I delicately asked a second time, “Um, Marla. Could I get my old pillow back, just for tonight?”

No response.

Good God, was she actually asleep or was she just ignoring me?

Then, a muffled sound.

“It’s in the GARBAGE.”

How could this be? In the garbage already? Things move slowly in our house. We have a spaghetti squash that’s been sitting in the basement since September, and I’m pretty sure there is a mustard in the fridge that predates the marriage, so how the hell did these pillows get tossed in the trash so fast? I thought about what we had for supper that night and whether I could salvage them.

Leftover chinese food.

Oh that’s not good. That’s not good at all. That means sauces and sticky stuff. I had a crazy notion of digging the pillow out, wiping off the worst of the sauce and coffee grinds, rebagging it in a clean garbage bag, (a white kitchen catcher should do it, right?) and putting the whole damn thing in the pillow case, but two things stopped me.

1. the smell would probably waft out of the pillow case and permeate our whole bedroom

2. the real possibility of divorce

So I stayed in bed and tried to make do with this shitty little pillow. It was like a camping pillow, but flatter. I eventually doubled it up and curled up into a ball and made the best of it, even though it didn’t feel right and cut into my neck.

At some point during the night, I must have rolled off the pillow and it flattened out, because this morning I woke up and knew something was wrong. I went to roll over and a sharp pain shot up from between my shoulder blades to the base of my skull. I sat up without using my neck muscles, which is really hard if you haven’t ever tried doing that, and looked down at the culprit. I don’t know how it was possible, but this pillow seemed even thinner this morning than it did the night before.

And what’s worse, I don’t think you can return pillows, and even if you could, my wife doesn’t seem to have the receipt.

So I’m stuck with the damn thing for the foreseeable future. Any stomach sleepers out there in the market for a “gently used” stomach pillow?

My wife woke up, seemingly fully refreshed, and I realized to my horror that for over 10 years she has had sub par sleeps using a regular pillow, and never once complained about it, so I guess I should just shut up about one bad sleep right?

And anyway, I kinda like the idea of our bedroom smelling like ginger beef. I’m sure she’ll get used to it.

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