Bunk Beds: the Downside
Where does "changing the sheets on a bunk bed" rank on your list of things you'd rather not do? For me, it's in the top ten. I would choose it over, say, "following a large dog around with a bag in which to scoop up its feces when necessary," but not "cutting your toenails and risking cutting one too low and having a very sharp, almost unbearable but brief pain shoot all the way up your leg."
As a child, I had bunk beds. In fact, I had them until I left home after college. At some point, we removed the top bunk and I slept on the remaining twin bed. I remember them fondly, even though I fell off of the top one a couple of times when I was 6, leaning over to tell some story about my stuffed animals to Noodles' Mom. If I thought about it long enough, bunk beds were probably one of the things I looked forward to revisiting as a parent, like Legos, Dr. Suess and Sesame Street. We are now into our 6th year of bunk beds. I don't feel that way about them anymore.
I normally don't change the Jawa's sheets and, to be honest, this morning I didn't change them, I just made his bed. Due to the present heat wave, however, I may as well have been changing them. They were all at the foot of his bed, rolled up into a ball. That's why I had to do this particular chore. Normally, he does it, but today, he took a look at the blog that used to be his sheet and comforter and said, "Dad, there's no way. I can't do it."
The job fell to me.
Why is this such a daunting task? I make my own bed every morning, save for the occasional Sunday, when I can slip into the shower quickly, knowing that Sandra Bullock's innate efficiency will not allow her to leave a bed unmade for the time it takes me to shower. But making my own bed, while slightly annoying, is a simple job, and I can complete it in a way satisfactory to S. B. Or at least this is what I tell myself.
A bunk bed is a different animal. To begin, you must negotiate the ladder, or simply remove it and place it somewhere else in the room. By "somewhere else," I mean the 4 square foot area that is not covered by loose Legos or Godzilla memorabilia. Once the ladder is removed, you are allowed 0nly slightly better access to the bunk bed (we are speaking of the lower bunk. The upper bunk, fortunately, needs changing / making only when a guest uses it. In that case, you must go to the yellow pages and look up the number of a nearest Chinese acrobat troupe, or, if you live in New York, call up David Blaine or some other illusionist able to fit themselves into a three foot square cube).
By now, one thing is apparent: you will hit your head on the upper bunk at least twice. There is nothing worse than hitting your head, except maybe the aforementioned large dog, his feces, and your plastic bag. Since bunk bed mattresses are made exactly 1/4" smaller than bunk bed frames, you are likely to also receive rug burns on your hands as you try to tuck in the sheet and comforter.
Have I mentioned sweat? Yes, especially during our heat wave, you must be careful to make the bed quickly, hopefully before the sweat drips down into your eyes. Otherwise you will be blinded, and unable to complete the task at hand.
Overall, making a bunk bed is an experience that is claustrophobic and physically painful. There is no satisfying snap! of the sheets, followed by a zen-like peace as the unfolded sheet gracefully floats down to the bed surface. Instead, you must unfurl the sheet in zones -- first the left, bottom, then the right, bottom, etc. You must jam the sheet into the tiny space between the mattress and the frame, and then pray to whatever preferred diety that the 1/8" remaining will somehow hold the comforter.
And when this is all complete, if you are not S. Bullock and not blessed with otherworldly bed-making skills, you are as likely as not to discover that you have "made" a sadly crooked bed, an embarassingly one-sided bed or, worst of all, an upside-down bed. Are the trucks supposed to be driving towards his head or his feet? Is it okay if there's three feet of comforter hanging down off the outside of the bed and 4 inches tucked into the wall? What if you're male, too old to remember sleeping with patterned sheets, and have completely forgotten that you're supposed to put the sheet in upside down and backwards, so that when you fold it down, only then are the trucks traveling in the right direction, and only then are their colors bright and vibrant?
What then, indeed.
There is no glory. So the bed is finally made, sort of. It is perceived as neat by the non-military male world, at least, and each stuffed Pokemon creature has been placed in his assigned space. You do what you can to smooth out various wrinkles, place the pillows at an angle, just like Sandra Bullock would do. Your forehead is cut in two places, your back is sore, your t-shirt is drenched with sweat.
And you know, sure as you know that the Jawa will forget that you made his bed and put a red "x" on his chore card next to "made bed, Monday," that at some point during the day, Sandra Bullock will come by the room and, like the Peanuts gang and a small, sad Christmas tree, wave her arms and magically, the bed will be crisp, clean and perfect.
And if you need me then, I'll be cutting my toenails.