Changing the Bedsheets

by Ruth Z Deming


If my back is a bit out of whack, it's because I just did the most odious chore of them all - changing my bedsheets. When I finished, I thought, how many more times will I be doing this? One hundred? Two hundred? Or, if I suddenly die from passing out from having a "low" diabetes reading, this is it.

Let's talk first about my previous bed. Before this Rhapsody bed was here, my former boyfriend Simon Baniewicz built me a bed out of wood. It was beautiful. Problem was he and I never slept together. He would come upstairs and sing me a rockabye song and then go downstairs to smoke, eat everything in the fridge, and eventually die.

It was hell getting him out of the house. My son Daniel was coming to live with me temporarily, so we put everything of Sy's out on the front curb and he raced over from his tiny house in Bensalem. He had made a good life for himself there. He had planted a garden - "flags" - iris - in memory of his mother Genevieve - all the children were named after saints - and he had many friends in the neighborhood, including a man who drove a tractor-trailer. One neighbor was a crook, who stole Sy's coin collection worth $10,000.

He had a little dog back then, Tarzan, a Jack Russell terrier, who had more energy than a linebacker rushing to the goal post.

I used to visit him back then, even accompanying him to the doctor's office where he was told to stop smoking or he would be dead and that is exactly what happened.

My sisters and I still talk about him. "Oh, if only Simon was here to help us with our computers."

I went over to Sleepy's Mattress Store. The place was empty except for the manager, a young fellow, we'll call "Matt." He told me he had studied to be an opera singer, hadn't made it, and got a tip about making "big money" selling mattresses.

Like, 50 to 75,000 dollars and he wasn't kidding.

First, I asked him to sing something for me. Possibly something from Cosi Fan Tutti by Mozart.

He opened his mouth and knew what he was doing.

Imagine, right here at Sleepy's performing Cost Fan Tutti.

Made my head swirl.

"You are Good!" I said. "Really really good."

Excuse me. I'm gonna stuff a piece of chocolate in my mouth. Gotta run downstairs to do dis. When I came back upstairs, with the Dove chocolate square melting in my mouth, I passed my bedroom which looks FANTASTIC with the lion blanket on top, two pillows - a sizeable one with a blue pillowcase - thother, smaller, where I keep odds and ends - and books, books, books.

Bear with me, as my friend Felicia H Kelly, would say when we worked at the now defunct Record newspaper together on busy Easton Road. They have sold the building into what is called "pods." Small offices, I believe. My God, Ruthie, what a memory you have!

Am just gonna mention a couple of books, on the bed, before I stripped the sheets. There were at least 18 on there, including Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. I had bought this plus Nine Stories for my friend Judy L who didn't like them. Would you believe I just learned that Zooey is a man!

All books are from the Upper Moreland Public Library or bought by myself. Gifts? No. I did buy myself Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, I believe it's called. Am too lazy to go check. My sister Donna said it was extraordinary. Not exactly.

One of my all time favorite books is Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson. It's made up of tiny gems of stories. Practically no one has ever heard of it. I also have three books in one I just discovered when I was cleaning off the bed. The Frances Hodges Burnett books: Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Little Princess and A Secret Garden. Just looked them up. Found this book in The Little Free Library way up Cowbell Road.

Thing is, I get so very engrossed while reading each and every paragraph, but the pressure is immense to pick up another book.

Silly girl.

While making the bed I put on rousing music. WXPN-FM. Removed my shoes and tiptoed around the bed, tucking in the dull grey sheet, which has some inexplicable red sauce on it. I had a beautiful yellow silk pillow I bought when the Chinese store was at the Staples Shopping Center. I had also bought a lovely China cabinet I have downstairs over one of my red couches.

"If you don't come over and hang it up," I said, "I won't buy it."

They did and it looks great up there except the dust gets inside.

Dust! No, we won't talk about that.

One of my books is by Martin Amis. I have only read a bit and I can't decide if I wanna continue. That's a bad sign, wouldn't you say?

"Encounter" by astronaut Scott Kelly is superb.

I just found something I hid on the purple carpet of my bedroom, sat myself down, and without my reading glasses, began to read.

It was wonderful! Yes, wonderful. It was about the act of reading. Why do we continue? Why do we stop.

Okay, I give up. IMPERSONATION by Heidi Pitlor. This is not her first book. The book is wonderful and tonight I shall fall asleep while reading it, or, so she says. What kind of name is "Pitlor?" I like finding out these things. Derivations.

And you, Dear Reader? Let me wish you creative thinking, kind thoughts, and to be helpful whenever you can. What is the last thing you did to help someone? I gave a neighbor across the street daffodils. Oh, my friend Judy Kroll did give me a precious gift. A mug with the words WTF.

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