If you wish to class yourself as a card carrying member of polite society you must perform certain tasks like brushing your teeth, not screaming fuck in Mass, washing occasionally and limiting your killing solely to computer games.
If you are also trying to stay healthy and disease free, you must perform a certain task on an alarmingly regular basis. A mundane maintenance of the household variety for many, yet for me it has resulted in fits of rage, shouting, tears, maniacal unhinged laughter, pulled muscles, cramps, foolish attempts at bribery, hissy fits and other assorted physical injuries.
I am referring to the simple act of changing the sheets on a bed.
Though prone to violent cursing fits and sabre rattling, this behaviour is usually the result of interactions with inanimate objects (The hoover/vacuum cleaner issue will need to be addressed in a separate article. It knows what it did. The bastard). There is a part of me that sometimes imagines that objects of mine have been specifically calibrated to illicit a vitriolic response. Some cosmic reality tv show wherein the producers rig props to cause me to lose it on a regular basis, just to boost ratings in far off galaxies.
I dislike the whole affair. Oversized shapes of fabric too large to fold yourself, unless you have the same wingspan as a dragon. Flaccid unhelpful lumps of bagged feathers, and elasticated undersheets that make you wonder if in fact they are the correct size for your mattress.
What follows is a blow-by-blow account of a my struggle against fabric and shapes.
With all the previous bedding curled in a ball at the foot of the bed, a naked mattress is the first issue to be addressed. The undersheet selected is unfurled, corners placed near corners. Start at the top or the bottom? It doesn’t matter, it will never fit, it never does, and I know it.
One corner hooks in at the top, then the other one. A good start. Now down to the bottom to simply hook in the others. Simple. Nope. The stretch, pull, tuck fiasco begins. Cajoling enough of the mattress up under the sheet. Up to the top, get some leeway, then back down. Still not enough. The heart rate has ramped up. The sheet mocking me. The mattress playing dead, making itself as awkward as possible. Sweat makes its first appearance, and the first curses and hexes are hissed through clenched teeth.
This goes on for some time, until a tenuous detente between the four corners of the mattress and sheet has been reached. The sheet is taut, like glass. You could play air hockey on it, and should one of the corners suddenly slip, the resulting catapult action could imprint me onto the wall above the bed.
The Duvet Cover
Although simpler to distinguish up from down and left from right (thanks buttons) the act of stuffing a duvet inside the cover is, and will always be, an absolute nightmare. I know from watching my mother as a child that there was an art to it – grab some ears of naked duvet and stick them into the corresponding edges of the cover… BLANK – SCENE MISSING – … and you’re done. Shite.
I’ve watched really smug people on youtube do it in seconds, then tried to do the same thing, only to end up holding up the video to see my effort and scream “You’re a liar! Nothing but a filthy lying charlatan!” It’s either they are using CGI or I’m incapable of calmly dealing with the task at hand. I am choosing to believe the former.
I try the ears method. One in…second one in…(twisted and backward)… nothing but flaccid cover twixt the two points, the cover then refusing to unravel itself down the knotted duvet. The duvet then takes on a life of its own, and like a fireman going into a burning building, I decide to get inside the duvet cover to control matters from within – be one with the bed.
I crawl up into the cover fighting and loudly spitting venom at the mangled duvet, which by this time has reverted back to its obviously natural state, a triangle. Fully entombed, I rise up, kneeling on both the bed and cover, and immediately trip on the very same cover as I try to rise to a full standing position. The trip bends my neck and snaps my body into a double quick fold as I go head first down the side of the bed. Still inside the cover.
Enraged, I deliver some heavy blows from the inside of the cover to whatever is outside the cover, curse wildly, and for the first time have thoughts about just giving up.
I extricate myself from the shape changing mass that the duvet and cover have now become, and rethink my strategy. Before my next move I remind myself that nothing good ever comes from going with an idea that is fuelled by revenge on an inanimate object. So I rethink my freshly rethought strategy. I must make the cover submit. I remember what Conan The Barbarian said: “Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women“. Well the duvet and cover are my enemies, and in my current mood I would enjoy emasculating them in front of their significant others. Thanks Conan.
With renewed vigour, I lay the now parallelogram shaped duvet cover on the bed, into which I then force the now round duvet. It goes in violently, hissing and kicking like a cat into a sack knowing the river awaits. Once inside I close up the half dozen buttons that stand between it and freedom. Trapped, the duvet lays prone within the sheet, albeit now resembling a sandcastle in a bag, at once resolute and defiant, refusing to commit to the shape of the cover.
I calm myself and take the useless mass to the top of the stairs where I apply an outside ear manoeuvre, with the only two ears I can find. I shake the useless heap off the top of the stairs for about 10 minutes like a maniac, gleefully laughing and shouting “Sumbit”, until the duvet finally dies and the onset of rigour mortise forces it to take the shape of the duvet cover.
With the duvet subdued, the pillows are terrified. They almost stuff themselves apologetically into the pillow cases, and the job is done.
The whole ordeal takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Some objects around the room are broken. I am sweating, my heart rate the same as if I was sprinting for my life away from duvet wearing zombies.
I retreat to the living room where I pour myself a congratulatory drink. Although I know that the whole procedure will need to be repeated soon, and it appears my idiot brain is wholly incapable of learning from my mistakes, I sit, wipe the sweat away and enjoy my victory drink.
But that fresh sheet sleep tho….