I am a simple person, with simple pillow needs. The other three people in my house? Complex people, with ridiculously complex pillow needs.
Over the past 20 or so years, I have had two pillows. The first one was a fine pillow, probably purchased for something like $3, and it did its job for years, which was to provide some minor elevation for my head during sleep. I didn’t need it to do much more, because during 98% of my time spent with it, I was unconscious. The pillow could have been writing angry manifestos in its spare time and I wouldn’t have cared. I was asleep.
A few years back, my wife informed me that my pillow was, well, kinda awful. I told her it was fine, as it was doing its job. She told me that pillows are supposed to be thick and fluffy, and mine was kinda like a piece of cardboard at this point, in thickness and texture. I assured her it was fine, and if it eventually disintegrated, I would just grab a nearby T-shirt, coat, dog, etc. and use that as a pillow. I’m REALLY good at sleeping, and no pillow is going to get in the way of that.
Eventually, I gave in to the mocking of my pillow. We buried my old pillow in a somber ceremony in the backyard, marking its service with a simple yet dignified headstone. Or we put in the garbage. I can’t remember.
My wife got me a new one, and it’s one of those memory foams pillows that I have to say is quite comfortable. But it’s not like I’ve made light years of sleep progress with the new pillow. It’s just a pillow. It’s something that rests between my head and the bed for the five minutes before I’m out.
The rest of my family, however, is a collection of escalating degrees of pillow maniacy. My son has his pillow on his bed. But he also has a travel pillow that he likes to use in the car. When he was at camp last summer, he left his travel pillow behind at the camp, and I’m fairly certain he would not have been as concerned had he left his pancreas at camp. Fortunately, you can buy travel pillows at any truck stop. You cannot buy pancreases as far as I know, but who knows what goes on in the parking lot.
My daughter is next on the scale. She has a gaggle of pillows that makes this lumpy fortress of sleepy-time that she nestles into each night like it’s a cocoon. I have gone to wake her up some mornings and wondered if there was actually a human in the room, or if she has been swallowed by Freddy Krueger in the night, leaving only a massive pile of pillows on her bed.
And then there is my wife, who takes pillows to a whole different level. She has these two big candy cane shaped things that she uses to build part of her evening fortress. Then she has a smaller candy cane pillow that she puts behind her head. Sprinkle in at least three more pillows wedged in various places around the bed and my wife’s pillow fort construction looks like the Michelin Man is lying next to me.
Meanwhile, I’m just sawing logs with my good ol’ trusty single pillow. I’ve had this one for a while, and I think it’s probably starting to show its wear and tear. Of course, it doesn’t bother me, as it’s doing it’s job. But if (when) my wife tells me it’s time for a new pillow again, I will simply agree that it’s time. And I’ll take one of hers. There is no way she’ll notice.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.