Rural Living

The Night the Bed Fell on Margo

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

James Thurber is my favorite American humorist. I became reacquainted with his works recently, and laughed out loud again at "The Night the Bed Fell on Father." Little did I realize this would prove prophetic.

My own bed is about 70 years old. I like its style. It's solid wood, constructed before the days of laminate and plastic and paper-thin veneers. Still, the bed is showing its age. The slats are always slipping off the thin rails on which they rest. I grew tired of laboriously reinserting them. It required lying on the floor, my head wedged up against the wall, lifting the heavy mattress and box spring with one hand, while sliding the slats back onto the rail with the other hand. This maneuver had to be accomplished under the close, watchful eye of little Brownie, who invariably decided it was a good time to show affection by licking my face.

During these ventures, I'd always look to see what Brownie had stashed away in her hidey hole under the bed. I have found missing tubes of toothpaste, forgotten doggie toys, half-chewed chewies, stray nuggets of food, and even a couple of quarters. Brownie was ready to ride out the apocalypse under that bed snacks, toys, spending money, fresh breath.

Sunday night we went to bed early, as we had missed our nap that afternoon. Thus, we were both sound asleep at 12:30 a.m. when CRASH! a sudden, stunning attack of misfortune jolted us awake.

I discovered my head lying much lower than, and at an angle to, my feet. Little Brownie had been catapulted onto the floor. Our bed had broken in two.

This is an eventuality I had always feared; it was bound to happen. We dragged ourselves and our pillows into the guest room, which we are oh, so lucky to have. We spent a discombobulated night in strange surroundings.

In the light of day, I surveyed the damage. It was beyond repair; I would need to buy a new bed. Or would I?

I have been meaning to "someday" move into the guest room, and turn my bedroom into a dining room. Well, I realized, "someday" has arrived.

Then, I considered the logistics: Find someone to help lift and lug the mattress, the box spring, the broken bed frame and headboard. Make a trip to the landfill. Clear out Brownie's hidey hole and then vacuum. Notice the wall needs scrubbing. Notice the room really needs painting. Notice that the surrounding rooms now need to be painted, too. Find somewhere to store all the stuff stored under the bed and in the guest room. Probably make yet another trip to the landfill. Buy a loveseat or oversized chair that converts to a bed that can accommodate the once-yearly overnight guest.

I live alone in a nine-room house with a full basement, yet there's not a single spare space or spot to be had. Perhaps, I thought, I should forget the "new" dining room, and move my piano into the old bedroom space. Then, I could buy a fancy gas fireplace for the formal living room, which I never, ever use, except to play the piano. Maybe the spare, pretty chair from the guest room could go in there? Maybe one of my four desks could be moved to the new space?

See what's happening? One midnight misfortune, and suddenly, two weeks of heavy labor ensue. The thought exhausted me.

First things first: Get the broken bed and the still-good but nowhere-to-store mattress and box spring out of there. I called a friend with a husband. I have often wished someone around here would start a "rent a husband" business. There are times in a single woman's life when a husband is absolutely necessary.

This husband arrived with a toolbox. Hah! I thought, were way too late for tools.

He took one look at the broken bed and said, "I can fix that."

Hah! I thought again.

Yet, one hour later, employing a snappy electric drilling thing, he had screwed back the broken bed rails, screwed the errant slats into the rails, and put the whole thing back together. He even helped me reinstall the flouncy bed skirt. Few men understand bed skirts, but he did not seem overly perplexed. I guess bed skirts are one of those things husbands learn to live with, like wives learn to live with March Madness.


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