On Prayer, Abomination and a Mattress

My husband and I bought our retirement home in July. I know what you’re thinking. Brian you’re only 35. Why are you thinking about retirement already? First, thank you for believing me when I lie about my age, and second, it’s never too early to think about retiring. This week I also read a book written by a hospice nurse. Not one of her patients spent his last days wishing that he’d worked more.

Like any self-respecting West Coast gay couple, our retirement home is in Palm Springs. Even though we bought the place furnished (and paid $25,000 for the furniture), we’ve spent most of the past few months replacing what we bought as part of the home purchase when with new things. My husband is creating a museum of mid-century modern chairs whereas my obsession was the right mattress. I’m always surprised at how much money people spend on cars. You’re in your car for thirty minutes a day and you’ll have that car for three to five years. You spend eight hours a day on a mattress and you’ll have it for twenty years, but most people balk at spending serious money on a bed. But not me. I’ll spend whatever to be comfortable at night. I’m such an ardent believer in having a good bed, that I give mattresses as gifts. Seriously, we bought my in-laws a new mattress for their anniversary this year.

Mattress shopping taught me how much progress has been made in the LGBT movement in the past few years. My husband and I went to Macy’s and Sear’s over Labor Day weekend and tried out mattresses. I’ve always felt a little creepy when mattress shopping. Everyone knows that beds aren’t just for sleeping, but we all act to the contrary. In trying out a mattress, you position yourself on your back on one side of the bed, and your significant other lies on the other side of the bed, like you’re auditioning for a 50s sitcom. I can hear the director in the background. “OK, you two. We’re going to break all the taboos and show a couple lying in bed together, but lie as far apart from each other as possible.”

As a gay couple, I feel added pressure, because with the reaction from Michael Sam’s kissing his boyfriend, I can imagine how people must look at my husband and me lying on a mattress together. But at least in Southern California and in some places, things have truly changed. Last week, I chatted to a Latin guy about how we preferred a firmer mattress while my husband and his wife liked mattresses that were plusher.

We tried out over two dozen mattresses before deciding on a Serta i-Comfort. And after going to three different stores, we ended up at Sit-n-Sleep, an oddly named store because all they sell is mattresses. At Sit-n-Sleep, the mattress we’d been looking at in the department stores was “on clearance”, and we were promised a good deal. After a little haggling, I got the price down to $500 less than the 60% off sale at Sear’s or the coupon-coupon-coupon approach that Macy’s uses.

We were getting such a good deal that instead of just buying a $600 Costco mattress for the guest bedroom, we talked the woman into giving us a further discount and bought two mattresses.

“You boys have made my day,” the mattress saleswoman said. “Even my month.”

She wrote up the order on the white, yellow and pink carbon pages. “I’ve been praying all day for a sale.”

After we paid, I went to shake the woman’s hand, but she said that her husband is a minister and that she gave hugs instead of handshakes. I asked her what church, and she said. “Non-denominational.” My husband took this to her saying that her church is ok with gays.

And in that moment, I was truly grateful at how much progress the LGBT community has made. It is no longer an abomination for a man to lie with another man. It’s an answer to a prayer. God no longer thinks men who lie together to be put to death. He now wants us to be comfortable and have a good night’s rest.