April 16, 2005

Making Your Bed

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2005

After a while you realize that growing up is just a metaphor for learning from life. And life is one of the best tutors there is; whenever you input an erroneous value, life will make sure to slap your hands and you'd better learn from it or else you'll get another slap, but this time in the face. You assume and you pay for it. Why? When you assume you make an ass out of you and me.

I recall a quote from a person who must have learned quite a lot: "You live and you learn. At any rate, you live." That's a safe assumption.

It is quite apparent that after a while of life that the biggest problems in it almost always are the little ones. The vast, global issues practically resolve themselves when we ignore them, while the little things we must deal with immediately can't be avoided at all in the short or the long run. Like making your bed.

I'm pretty good with theory. If there's a problem that doesn't yet have a proper theory, I'll do my best to contribute to it. Take politics, for instance. My theory is that it's all a conspiracy. That's a good theory that doesn't need any more backing than just being an actual fact. But when it comes to Mein Kampf with the bed sheets, theory never seems to go along with reality.

In theory I should be quite able to make a made bed look perfect, like they always do on TV or in commercials. Heck, they even look like something you have on display and show your friends and not something you rumble around in during your designated hangover. In reality, however, I can spend half an hour with it and still end up with a flimsy excuse for a well-made bed. At the end of such a struggle, I always seem to remind myself that until next time I'd better learn how to do it. That this can't go on. That I will have to learn.

But from where?

A friend of mine with whom I discussed this fascinating element of daily life, said he'd never thought about it since he learned to do it while he was in the army. He can do it in ten seconds with someone screaming at him. But I was never in the army. It's not that green isn't my colour, it's more of a problem with authority. In my view, I am the authority. This turned out to apply to the army's view quite unsuccessfully. Eventually, even after a trip to China where I searched my soul and bought some pretty good counterfeit Levis jeans, I did a pacifistic service which I recently completed and that rendered me employed (thank you). So while I learned lots of interesting stuff about social research, like how to cut and paste tables from a spreadsheet into a text document or ways of fooling a network printer into thinking that it actually works, I missed out on all the practical stuff. I know how to tie my shoelaces, I'm not a complete moron, but having to make my bed always gets me depressed. I'm at a loss. There's no available theory for it.

Making your bed is like a metaphor for life itself.

You put into it all the good effort you can, sometimes even with undying enthusiasm and optimism, but what you get is a mattress with lots of stuff on it, curled and fluffy and not feeling quite right – without even getting the stuffing in the pillows to fit to the corners of its sheet. There must be a way, however, and I intend to find it. I refuse to let a soft fabric that smells like flowers be the end of my intellectual exploration of life, the universe and everything! The thing is that when my mind is set at something, even my horsepowered will can't cut the strings and say: "Hey, let it go, man." I MUST know. And now is a good time.

So where is that one book covering the basic concepts of making your bed, practical tips and show-and-tell guidelines (preferably starring some forgotten Hollywood movie star)?

Where is the book about beds in general?

To whom can I turn to extract this vital information?

What gurus are there on this field of life?

These are all questions leading to raised eyebrows when I conduct my investigation among fellow earthlings at my regular hangouts. That's all you get. The eyebrows and the speaking silence. The speaking silence says something like: "You should know. Everyone knows." Followed by an imaginary shrug that points out how pathetic you are for actually daring to pose such a question when you should've been sucking at your beer. So I should know. I should've learned this somewhere. I must have missed something. It's like I was born having skipped some vital part of my life which obviously would've provided me with all the answers.

A saying goes "there's no use crying over spilt milk," but I trust that the source was being sarcastic or had never faced the complications that can and will arise when making your bed. But of course he could've had a maid. Neil Young has a song stating that a man needs a maid. He's perfectly right. I don't have the theory so either I'll have to hire or marry one.

But I'm still young. And one thing I've learned from life is that being young gives you all kinds of advantages. In this case, it obliges me the possibility of sleeping in an untidy bed, on the sofa with my clothes on or behind the curtains at some friend's dead party for as long as it lasts without anyone complaining. Except for my mother. And this is what I'll have to tell myself before I go to sleep tonight. I'll close my eyes, clear my head and just say it: "One day you, too, will know. One day."

The mantra of ignorance.

But it'll have to do until I discover the hidden theory, those sacred scrolls that will open my eyes to the Zen of Bed Making, and close the matter once and for all. One day. And until that day, I am very grateful for the concept of mothers.

Sigge S. Amdal is a word wanker from Oslo, Norway.

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