The One With the Sheep

I’m lying in bed, staring at the ceiling. I can’t sleep because I’m not really tired. I turn on my right side, then my left, then return to my back. I close my eyes and scan my body. My back isn’t aching. My neck is supported. My hips are in alignment. Feels fine, good even, but not great. I want to feel great. Suddenly I sense a presence. Someone is nearby. I flick my eyes open and a small, bald man leans over me.

“How are we doing?”

“Fine,” I sigh.

“You’ve tried out every mattress in the showroom. Twice,” he says, trying to maintain a cheerful disposition. “Are we any closer to a decision?”

“No, we are not. It’s still between the superior elite luxury plush pillow-top dreamrest gel-infused foam mattress and the luxury elite cushion-top foam-wrapped core superior comfort mattress. I just don’t know which to choose.”

“Well, they’re both about the same.” He looks at his watch.

“Then why do you call this one the Serenity model and that one the Tranquility model? Besides you said two hours ago that I’m going to spend a third of my life in this bed. Did you not?”

“I regret saying that.” He walks away, probably to help a customer who can be helped.

I am beginning to have second thoughts about shopping for a new mattress. Maybe I am being too hasty. I decided my current mattress and I needed to part ways after a rather abrupt realization that, if I’d brought my mattress home as a baby, it would be in college now. For some time I’ve been waking in the morning about as refreshed as if someone had been dancing the polka while playing an accordion in my bedroom. Other nights I would lie awake, tired, but unable to fall asleep and no amount of counting sheep would help. A friend suggested that it could be my mattress. Suddenly I noticed the sags and the lumps, the rips and the frays. I flipped the mattress and gave it a clockwise spin, but it didn’t help.


Trying to do consumer homework before mattress shopping is futile. First, there are all the meaningless advertising words. Each store has its own set of meaningless advertising words, so that the superior elite luxury plush pillow-top dreamrest gel-infused foam mattress at store A is called the luxury elite cushion-top foam-wrapped core superior comfort mattress at store B, even though they’re the same mattress manufactured by the same company. Second, there’s the high-pressure sales pitch. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to many of you that I’m not a fan of the used car approach to selling. If I could have bought a mattress online, I would have, but of all the things you need to test drive, a mattress seems to be at the top of the list.

So here I am, trying to determine on which mattress I am less likely to wake feeling like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Instead I feel like I’m at the optometrist’s office. Which is better: A or B? Now which is better: B or C? Wait. Can you repeat those?

I prefer to think of myself as thorough rather than indecisive. A mattress is a good chunk of my hard-earned dollars, and a purchase I’ll only make once a generation, apparently. I want to make the right choice. But what is the right choice? That is the paradox, isn’t it? Too many options can made a person feel paralyzed instead of emboldened.

I feel anxiety building. Then I feel anxiety that I have anxiety. I mean, I recognize that this isn’t a life altering decision. It’s a mattress.  Author Sarah Jio writes, “Dragging out a decision for too long leads to more anxiety. And, I find that the quicker I can come to a decision, the better I feel.”

I’ve returned to option A, after a quick check on options C and D. Is the Cool Twist™ gel memory foam something I need? How about the Pillowsoft™ mattress top?  Will I really get a better night’s sleep by spending an extra $100? Right on cue, the sales guy is back.

“Ah, yes, this is a good choice. I’ll write up the sales ticket.” He bounds away quickly before I change my mind.

My decision has sort of been made for me. And, I feel…liberated. It’s amazing how validating it is to have the sales guy fake-agree with you.

I hope he’s around next week. I’ve been thinking that I need new pillows.


Do you overthink big purchases? How do you make decisions?


Have a great weekend, everyone! 




  1. My mattresses come with my flats and I couldn’t be arsed spending my own money on one! Funny post! Poor sales guy – he’ll run when he sees you coming again!


      1. EEEEEEEEK! Don’t tell me that… bugs totally freak me out 😦 We’re just about to embark on cockroach season, am already trembling in my spangly sandals…


    1. Bed bugs are a bug problem in NYC. I’m so creeped out that I even bought a special mattress cover with a super duper zipper to keep them out.

      Me and my pigammas can sleep in peace. 🙂


  2. Yes, yes, yes!!!!! So much like me!!!! I love the eye doc reference, too! I use that all the time. 🙂 i think a mattress is a huge investment. Our oldest son worked at the Mattress Firm through college and became quite the expert—-I always ask him if I have a question. He actually won a fabulous mattress when he worked there and allowed us to have it since he already had his dream mattress. It was wonderful. We loved it…..and then it got stolen. End of story. We have never had quite the same night of sleep again. but yes—-I totally get the intense mattress experience and agree with the entire “ordeal” of shopping for one. I hope you and your mattress spend many happy nights together.


    1. The longer I was testing mattresses, the more anxious I got. I kept thinking: I’m going to spend 1/3 of my life on this thing, I’d better make the right decision. Really though, just about anything would be an improvement over what I have currently.

      Grr. Mattress thief! Well, that’s just rude.


  3. As an owner of a half dozen or so mattresses over my lifetime, I’m still in no position to offer advice, sorry to say! My last mattress, which we paid a small fortune for, is no better than the less expensive models/brands! It’s a mattress-jungle out there. I enjoyed your post! Hope you like your new mattress!


    1. A mattress jungle indeed! 🙂 I’m convinced that the mattress companies come up with those crazy advertising words just to confuse the consumer. “Dreamrest” — what’s that exactly? Ha. 🙂


  4. If you ached and were feeling overall crummy, yeah, odds are good that your mattress is contributing to the problem. Seven years ago I finally got around to replacing my 24-year-old futon that was rapidly leading to curvature of the spine. Following a business trip where I stayed in a boutique hotel and slept on what felt like a cloud, I asked the concierge about their mattress. I think it was a Simmons or was it Serta or Sealy? What is it with mattress companies and s-names? Anyway, I found the equivalent of that mattress at, appropriately, an s-named store, Sleepy’s. The sales shark gave me a price that worked within the confines of my budget (cheap) and two years interest-free to pay it off. My friends Milton, Coco and Albee all have that model of mattress too, now. So … you should have contacted me.


    1. I knew I should have asked you about the mattress! In the end, I think Reggie will be the final judge of how comfortable the mattress is, though the new one is so tall, he’ll need those special steps to climb in. 🙂


  5. We once bought a very luxurious pillow-top mattress, but it made me ache all over. I couldn’t believe a mattress could do that until we replaced it. No more body aches. Hope you sleep better on the new mattress!


  6. This is laugh out loud funny, Jackie. I can totally relate to the once in a generation mattress purchase.
    I have a huge decision I’ve been mulling for weeks now, and its keeping me up and giving me fits. Sometimes I feel like I’d settle for just letting some random stranger make the decision for me, just to get ‘er done!


    1. Oh, the anxiety around making a big decision. I really admire the people who can just make a split-second decision and live with it. I’ve never been that way. Even after I’d paid for the mattress, I hemmed and hawed about whether I should have gone with the gel-infused foam instead. 😛 Good luck on making your decision!


  7. This was hilarious! I have to say, I absolutely hate making decisions on big purchases and the only thing I hate more is buying a mattress (and we need a new one too). BUT it would be more fun if I could have your running commentary in my head 🙂


  8. Oh my . . . Loved your post.
    I urgently need a new mattress. Mine’s leaving high school. But it doesn’t give me backache. I sleep well on it but it’s ripped in places. Parting with a dear old friend and thinking of how long it will take to get a new one and make all these decisions. It’s disheartening.
    I want something that isn’t fancy. I think that would be the best and not too hard. It took me two years to sleep this one in, if you know what I mean. The it got comfier and comfier.


    1. Yes! I completely identify with needing to break in your mattress. Like a new pair of shoes, it will conform to your shape and habits.

      Might as well keep your mattress until it no longer serves you well. Mattress shopping is navigating a jungle


  9. Loved this post because it is so true! It feels almost futile to shop for a mattress because the odds of getting a good one for less than the price of a new home are slim. We bought ours and did the rotating thing and STILL ended up with the two trenches and hump in the middle. And yet, I don’t care because I don’t want to go through the process again!


    1. Ha! I kept thinking that if these mattresses get any more expensive I might need a line of credit. 😛
      It’s finally arriving this morning and I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep!


  10. Haha! I loved this post. It has FP written all over it.

    My mattress is about 10 years old, which I still think of as new, but it’s not that comfy. The idea of even shopping for one is too intimidating to contemplate.


    1. When did buying a mattress become so complicated? When I bought my current mattress I remember walking into the store and out again in about 10 minutes. Done and done. Now you need a stiff drink to get up the nerve to face the mattress sales person. (Not that I did that myself mind you…) 🙂


  11. Oh My GOD! I loved this! I think it’s one of the best ones I’ve read in small time of being a member of the Jackie Cangro Fan Club. I think it’s Freshly Pressed worthy and I feel like such a loser for just getting to it now. I actually read the first part last week, but then kid mania happened over here and I couldn’t finish it right away. Thank God I did. It was so funny and I LOVED your beginning it was so clever and creative. And then when you said that …” I feel like I’m at the optometrist’s office.” Dude that one cracked me up because I totally feel that way too when I’m at the mattress store. And your whole thing with “I feel anxiety building. Then I feel anxiety that I have anxiety.” I feel you on that sister. Ha! This one cracked my up and it was so well written, loved how he fake-agreed with you and in the end anxiety good. Nice post! 🙂


  12. I told my husband I knew we had officially reached middle age when we spent an entire afternoon at Fred’s Beds picking out a mattress- and we were completely entertained. Not once did I look at my watch. I found the sales woman riveting. In contrast my son fell asleep on one the beds. We finally decided on a king size Tempurpedic that comes with a vibrator (which terrifies poor Blossom, but after a 12 hour shift on my feet, is the best thing ever) and dual controls for raising the head and foot. It is the Lamborghini of beds! I sometimes say only half jokingly if I divorce my husband we’re going to have to work out some kind of arrangement with the bed. I’m not leaving without my half! =)


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