We bought a mattress recently. We also had a baby. Purchasing the mattress was far more traumatic. Really.
With the birth of a baby, you have no control over the proceedings. The water breaks and you drive really fast to the hospital. Three or four different people wearing colorful scrubs stick ¾ of their arms in the mother to be. If you are the au natural type with a thing for extreme pain, the baby comes out with a whole bunch of screaming and yelling. If you believe in modern medical science, some dude sticks a needle in the mother's back and you can balance the checkbook as the baby comes out. They then give you a $45 Advil, several portions of dry chicken and kick you to the curb 47 hours and 59 minutes later. Pretty easy.
The purchase of a mattress requires so much more planning and effort. First off, you never know when a mattress is ready to be replaced (unless it’s a waterbed.) You’ll get a good idea once the springs start poking through or if you’ve worn it down so that you are sleeping on dust and the box spring.
Once you’ve made the decision to buy, you have to pick where to buy. When you are about to deliver a baby, you have two choices: the hospital or the back of a cab. There are over 106 places where you can pick up a mattress in Columbus. (You can sometimes find mattresses along the road for free as long as you can fit Various Stains Brown into your bedroom color pallet.) You’ll pick the wrong store to buy no matter where you go. You will overpay or buy something of low quality or find out another store had a better deal. (Please note: Never ever buy from a store that says they will take your old mattress away when they bring the new. Notice how they show up with a mostly empty truck, put your old mattress inside, close the door and five minutes later pull out the “new” mattress.)
Your purchasing of a mattress really isn’t based on wrapped springs or space age foam or Amish construction. It’s all about how far the salesman rolls his eyes back in his head. When you ask about the floor models, you might get a quarter roll. If you lay down to test a mattress for more than four minutes, you’ll get the full eye roll with the crossed arms and toe tapping. If you walk into the store and wave off the salesman while walking back to the “USED” section, you can get his eyes to roll a full 360 degrees and a sigh big enough to suck the oxygen out of the strip mall. As you walk around the store, watch his eyes and pick the mattress that causes him the least distress.
Once you’ve got the salesman’s eyes back in place and he finishes tacking on the stain guard and undercoating to the bill, he’ll ask about delivery. I highly recommend taking the mattress home with you right there and then for two reasons. The first is so you actually get the mattress you think you want. At the factory in Guam, they make one kind of mattress and 24 kinds of labels to sew on to the mattress (not including the "Do not remove under penalty of law” tag.) The second reason to drive you mattress home is the physics involved with a mattress tied to the top of your car. The tension of the twine. The power-to-weight ratio required to become airborne. Newton’s First law combined with the breaking power of the car behind you. The muscle mass required to hold the mattress on the top of the car with one hand stuck out the window. My buddy Russ passed his third quarter of Physics by showing up to the final with a king sized Sealy Posturepedic attached to his car with a coat hanger and sixteen feet of dental floss.
Your first night with the mattress is the most important. Mainly because the spider eggs hatch that first night after being distressed during transportation. Also be prepared with a good one liner to combat your buddies who ask if you have “broken in” the mattress yet. I suggest the following response:
“Broken in? You kidding? I got fucked at the store.”
(Actually, I am kidding. We just bought a mattress from The Mattress Firm on Morse Road. It was a very pleasant experience and the sales dude was a great guy. We had it delivered and I even tipped the two delivery guys. And no, we haven’t broken it in yet… assholes.)