I also need a new mattress. There are seasons of mattresses, I have come to realize, that correlate with one’s stages of maturity. When you are 17 and sneaking into abandoned hotels in the Catskills with your boyfriend, and the mattresses smell of mold and are so skinny they can be rolled up, you do not care one bit. You are enchanted to be on a surface that does not include rocks. When you are 24 and have your first newspaper job, you become more selective; a mattress on the floor is a sign of a very immature guy and you quickly move on. For the next few decades, there is a mattress and a human nonintervention pact: you live side by side, like the United States and Canada, without giving each other much thought. Mattresses have as much identity as gym socks.
Then you hit 60, and you wake up stiff and get out of bed in increments, as if you had extra joints, channeling your grandmother: “Oy. Oy vey. Vey iz mir.” You don’t need one of those “French Women Don’t Do Whatever It Is You Do, You Pathetic American Slob” books to know that this is not hot. Also, you cannot keep kidding yourself that your back aches because of the gym. Your back aches because you are in your 60s. It is serious mattress time.
Oh, Joyce Wadler, you’re so great. But, yes! Having a good mattress is very important. It was one of those things I had no problem dropping money on (as well as great sheets). If you’re going to bed in the same spot every single night, you might as well make it as comfortable as you can. Useful: This guide to mattress buying by Consumer Reports. The main takeaway from it is that you should never have to pay full-price for a mattress (“Our shopper spent $1,300 more for a Serta Perfect Sleeper set at one Sears store than for the same set at another Sears a week later.”)