• Marilyn Woods

Reading Between the Sheets

Changing the linens on my oversized, make that king-sized, bed occurs every week and I dread doing it. Occasionally, I stretch it to two weeks.



The obligatory fitted bottom sheet application regularly produces a broken fingernail, a tweaked back and/or a slur of curse words. The struggle with the contour bottom sheet’s fourth corner can be monumental.


When there was a king in my king-sized bed, he always helped me make it, issuing helpful Marine Corps tips on how to make a quarter bounce in the center of a tight contour sheet. Together we would position ourselves diagonally across the expanse of the pillow topped mattress and in unison enclose the corners with the freshly laundered fitted sheet. We lived in the country then and the sheets dried outside in the sunshine.


Without my partner in this domestic ritual, I moved to the city and my laundry is no longer sun kissed from hanging in the open air. I do like to take my sheets and pillowcases out of the dryer slightly damp and spread them on a flat surface to stave off wrinkles and finish drying. If only that would work for my face.


Yesterday was linen changing day. I put it off until almost noon when I could no longer stand to look at the rumpled unmade bed. Into the washing machine and then the dryer went the sizeable pouf of mercerized white cottons. Late afternoon, sans wrinkles, I carried my Marie Kondo folded pile of bedding back to my bedroom and began the ordeal.


Beginning in the opposite corner, the one where he used to lay his head, I went solo through the arduous procedure. Tucked in one corner, tucked in the corner opposite diagonally, back across to the third corner and finally the killer, the fourth corner. Just laundered, the contour sheet was beyond snug. Battling the tightness, I shoved my right knee against the mattress for leverage which temporarily upended me, sending me crashing into the nightstand. This is where the cuss words occurred first.


Upright once more, I grabbed the corner again and pulled with all my might. This time, I wedged my bare left foot in between the box springs and mattress raising it slightly so that the elasticized corner of the bottom sheet finally stretched into place and was secure. The corner of the mattress, however, remained slightly uplifted. I sat on the edge of the bed to flatten it, which immediately popped the sheet off the corner of the mattress once again. I begrudgingly repeated the left foot action. I added a nudge of my elbow to the effort.


By this time, the paper cut on my right thumb was bleeding and a few drops of blood appeared on the clean white sheet. More curse words. When both the contour sheet and all its deep corners and the far easier flat top sheet were put in place, I began to relax. I congratulated myself on the hospital corners I made tucking the top sheet neatly underneath the mattress using overlapping folds, kind of like wrapping a gift. I learned that from Mom, not the Marine.


The buoyant, puffy down comforter and my ivory colored matelassé bedspread topped off the bed covering process and I turned to the pillows, also king-sized. Four of them, two for each side.


Inserting the pillows into the pillowcases was problematic also. At some point, each pillow tended to plunder sideways or to a stop in the mushy middle. A few strong shakes and each one reluctantly nestled into the rectangular envelope of the case. Another trip around the three open sides of my expansive sleep center and both piles of pillows were in place. My cozy faux fur throw was the last piece to be added, near the foot of the bed. My side.


Two Advil, a band aid, and a cup of coffee later, I silently commend myself for a job well done. As always, I contemplated the ridiculousness of regular sheet changing when one side is unused and I regular bathe before bedtime.


This morning over coffee, as I replayed last night’s bedtime I began to fully appreciate and understand my housekeeping custom which I have performed unenthusiastically since I was a Girl Scout. There were no contour bottom sheets in my teen years, however.


As I approached my bed just before midnight, the bedside lamp cast a warm glow softening the brightness of the whiteness. I pulled back the pillowy, billowy covers, the ones I had neatly put in place just hours before, and a wave of pureness, restfulness, and happiness emanated.


Spotless, crisp and inviting—my bed. The pillows plumped like marshmallows beckoned me to rest my head. I stepped out of my slippers and eased myself into my side of the spanking clean bed. The sfumato-like softness of the goose down comforter caressed me, the luxurious mix of scents intoxicated. Imaginary fragrances of white blossoms mingled with vanilla, Irish crème, and spun sugar visions.


As my head sank into the pillow, I sighed and snuggled in; it was womblike. I reached for my book and my reading glasses. My body had melted into the freshness. I was ensconced in a fairy dust cloud and within minutes was blissfully sound asleep in my bed bedecked in crisp newly laundered linens.







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