A Soft Spot for My Soft Spots
Are you in love with your pillows?
I had thought I was quirky this way, until I began paying
attention. I paid attention as I lugged my luggage to the front desk of
various hotels. Even in the swankiest, there we were: The Pillow People.
I was surprised and delighted to learn recently that a
friend is a Pillow Person just like I. We gigglingly confessed to one
another that, until we were finished college, we had clung tightly to our
I once ended a five-year romance when “someone” refused to
turn around and head back to New Orleans to retrieve my pillows. After all,
we were only 100 miles down the road.
There are a plethora of problems posed to Pillow People,
especially when traveling. I have called the registration desks of various
far-flung hotels, inquiring about the consistency and type and number of
pillows in a typical room.
The harried clerks seem disinclined to entertain my
questions and concerns. They are not amused by my self-effacing anecdotes.
Thus, I am forced to pack along my pillows.
And therein lies another problem.
Pillows are bulky, unwieldy things. Wrestling them into a
suitcase takes determination and dedication. Then, there’s the problem of
clothing, underwear and toiletries. Is there room?
I bought some plastic crush-sacks that supposedly reduce
bulky things to the size of a fat wallet. They worked well a time or two;
then, they ruined my precious feather pillows. Somehow, like the skin of an
aging woman, they refused to spring back into perfection.
Hauling pillows along is no big deal if you’re traveling
by car. In fact, one can ensconce oneself in them and drive in great comfort
— sort of an already-
deployed air bag, but far more comfy. All that remains is
to tote them into the hotel. This can raise eyebrows, as well as sneers,
from bellhops and fellow guests. I have had travel companions turn aside and
pretend they do not know me.
Traveling by train is somewhat more tricky, but still
doable. It’s the airlines that test the resolve of Pillow People. What with
all the regulations of weight and number of bags, it is necessary to forego,
say, extra pairs of pants and shoes and three shirts, in order to fit in the
pillows. You may not be well-dressed at your destination, but you will be
I was forced to forego my pillows entirely when I flew to
France. This was not good. Europeans have a different concept of pillows
than we Americans, I guess. The so-called pillow (note singular usage) on my
four-star hotel bed was forlorn. It was thin, and hard-bodied, much like the
type of traveler to whom this hotel catered.
I had quite a bit of trouble communicating my desire for
two — four, if you’ve got ’em — fluffy pillows to the hotel chambermaids. A
small cluster of them surrounded me in the hall, incomprehensible looks on
their faces. I grabbed the so-called pillow off my bed, cuddled it, and then
pantomimed something larger and fluffier. They smiled, nodded, and brought
me an extra blanket.
It has become necessary for me to buy four new pillows.
Even two might do it, yet buying even one pillow is an arduous and difficult
task. The perfect pillow cannot be ordered online. I live in a town where
one cannot buy eyeshadow or underwear; need I mention I must make a 150-mile
round trip to purchase a pillow?
The pillow section of a department store is often
puzzling. They are piled willy-nilly, not organized by firmness or type of
filling. Worst of all, they are covered in hard plastic. I am forced to
fondle the packaged
pillows, holding them against my head and trying to
imagine if this is, indeed, my perfect mate of a pillow. I guess the process
would be akin to finding true love in a speed-dating bar.
My sweet sister, always on the alert for the ideal, and
wonderfully welcome gift, actually gave me four expensive new pillows last
Christmas. I felt oh, so badly about it. They are plump but unyielding
things, and they simply will not do. Naturally, they cannot be returned.
They stand now, at the alert, on the guest room bed, ready to welcome the
Herein lies a lesson for careful gift-givers: Never try to
please a Pillow Person. We are a quirky and quite picky lot. But to a man
and/or woman, we are well-rested.