Friday, October 2, 2015

Sheet happens

In my little town I never meant nothing, I was just my father's son. - Paul Simon

The other day, my wife sent me to pick up a sheet with 1,000 thread count. I wasn't sure whether we could handle so many threads in a bed-sheet; the highest we've ever been is 500. What if we couldn't wake up?

The sheet set was an incredible deal, about 1/3 of the regular price. The catch: it had to be purchased between opening time and noon on Saturday only. It was a Door-Buster item. My wife had to open her shop in the morning, so I became the drafted designated Buster of Doors on her behalf. She made all the arrangements - I could cut right through the crowds trampling the shards of broken glass that once were the doors, and go down to pick up the item from Lynne at the Domestic Desk. The arrangement was pleasant enough; I was playing Sergio Mendez on my mini-van stereo, and it was a sunny morning. Perfect door-busting weather. It reminded me of the last time I went shopping for a bed sheet.

In my $110.00 per month 10-room apartment in Watertown, I lived upstairs with my piano, my books, and my two cats, Miss Riley and 3285 Unwanted. I had a care-free job as a night auditor in the Watertown Best Western Motel, and numerous other odd jobs. This was truly the high life, until one day, my bed-sheet ripped. Somehow the hole got so big, I would wake up on the other side of the sheet. Who knows where that could lead -- I've heard of these portals opening up, and you're never heard from again. So I decided that I had to purchase a new bed-sheet. I walked out of my apartment on 4th and Main Street, down to 2nd and Main; didn't want those cheap Woolworth's or Kresge's sheets, I wanted a good one!

Penney's was where you went for the necessities: Durable dry goods at reasonable prices. A three-story emporium on 2nd and Main Streets. The iconic bright yellow and black tile exterior. Inside there were institutional pistachio green walls, flickering fluorescent fixtures, and wooden floors that creaked as you looked through the merchandise on the wooden display tables. Stairs toward the back led up to a mezzanine which formed a low ceiling over the shoe department. But for a bed sheet you had to go down the stairs to the Housewares department in the basement.

Apparently, there had recently been a sale event. A half-empty shelf along the wall held a variety of bedsheets of various sizes. Still great prices, but only two of the clearance items were the right size for my single twin-size bed. One was a single light brown flat sheet. And the other was an entire sheet set. I needed the single sheet, but - imagine having a matching pillow case, AND a fitted sheet. I had never had a fitted sheet before, and could picture the time that could be saved by not having to line up the sheets every time i got out of bed. The set was the same price as the single brown sheet - Wotta deal!

As I approached the checkout counter, a familiar yet unexpected voice greeted me from the counter. Mrs. Milton, my next-door neighbor from my parents' house was working there. Good old Mrs. Milton. "Got a day off from work, Gary?". Good old nosey Mrs. Milton. People believe that you're out of work, just because they see you in the daytime.

"I'm working on the night shift this week." Don't want to take up your whole nosey day; just ring up my order. I put the sheet set down on her checkout counter. She picked it up to examine it.

"Is this for you?"

"Yep. There's a whole set in there. Even a pillowcase."

Then, in a polite tone, she pointed out "but --- it's pink!"

In the silence of Penney's basement, the humming of the fluorescent lights seemed deafening.

Well, don't we have an eye for color, you nosy wench! Perhaps she was not clear on the concept of sheet sets. "Yes, it's a set. They're all the same color. Even the pillowcase." I explained patiently

"But---they're pink!"

Pointing to the wall, "Well, my bedroom walls are light green, similar to that color." I held the sheet set up to compare with the color of them store walls. "That goes together, don't you think?"

She finally told me what the problem really was. "These sheets are PINK. Wouldn't the brown one be more -er- ah - manly?"

MANLY???  What's going on here?  "Perhaps. But the pink ones come in a set, you see. The brown one is just a single sheet. The pink ones are a better deal. And besides, I live alone and work on the night shift." I could see that I was losing ground. "Nobody would know. Who could tell?" Who, indeed! As if I didn't know.

I already had a reputation as an eccentric; the piano music coming out of my Main Street apartment, and those odd books on religious sects that I ordered on inter-library loan, the odd hours, coming home at 8 am, stopping at the Uptown Bar to buy eggs.

And so, with a sigh, I headed back to my apartment, a paper Penneys bag holding my new single manly brown bed sheet. I dreamed of someday having a fitted sheet, and a matching pillow case. 


Now, in the 21st century, each time I paint a room, my manly brown drop cloth reminds me how far I've come in this world.

2 comments:

Leslie Hanna said...

Noooo, you should have told her pink is your favorite color and weren't you fortunate that was the last set!

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