By Anne K. Kaler
My favorite childhood story of Goldilocks seeking the “just right” bed must have impressed me more deeply than I ever imagined
Only recently did I realize that the blond-headed child was guilty of trespassing, breaking-and-entering, and theft in her search for a comfortable night’s sleep. Look at the facts. Probably homeless, possibly a runaway, certainly an unwelcomed intruder, the blond female perpetrator broke into the Bear house with the intent to use it as a shelter for the night. Why she was wandering in the woods in the first place is another story involving parental neglect.
A recent trip to the Midwest reminded me of Goldilocks’ homeless story. After twelve hours of driving, I was ready for a good night’s sleep. My reservation at my favorite roadside national chain was for three nights’ stay. I should have been warned when the attendant proudly announced, “We’re completely renovated now. Enjoy your stay.”
Once I gave the hotel attendant my credit-card piece of plastic to insure full payment, I was given a credit-card-like piece of plastic in exchange. Not a physical key, mind you, but a credit-card-like piece of plastic pretending to be a room key. It had a room number scribbled on the back. Like Goldilocks, I had only to find the room with that number. At this point no Bears were involved.
Juggling my purse, the brass wheelie cart, and my precious room-card-key, I stopped at the correct door which looked like every hotel door in existence – solid, defiant, and loaded with a metal security device worthy of arming a nuclear device – above the door handle. The Bears had upped their security systems.
Holding my pseudo-room key aloft, I search for the slot opening for my strange room key card. Nein. Nada. Zilch. No such opening was visible. So I felt around the entire device. It had no opening to receive a card or key. Magic words did not work. Thumping the lock several times and chipping a nail searching for an opening did not work. I even checked to make sure that I had not used my own credit card by mistake.
Somehow in my desperate thrusting of the card at the unwilling locking device, I saw a green light flash. So I thrust the plastic-room-key at the small black rectangle on the face of the lock. Another fast green flash. I had stumbled on the way to open the door – let the tiny screen read the card and the door would open, I thought.
But no such luck. Even with the door lock disengaged, the door itself would not open. At the bottom the wood had been splintered, forcing the door further into the jamb at a crooked angle. It looked as if the Bears had similar problems with the new system. Why else the broken wood around the door frame?
The lock being opened, the door refused to budge until I forced the top section hard with my shoulder and harder with my knee at the bottom. It swung open with the bare wood exposed at the bottom.
Momentarily, I feared being charged for breaking and entering like Goldilocks but I was too sleepy to care. It would take more than three sleepy Bears to get through that door once I jammed it shut and relocked it.
Then, like Goldilocks, I spotted the bed of my dreams, a familiar queen-sized bed – on steroids!.
At first I thought that I had stumbled onto the set of the musical Once Upon a Mattress because the bed appeared as high and icy as mountain peaks with four king-sized over-stuffed pillows looking suspiciously like ice-caps. It was huge but inviting as I walked around it. I slavered over the vision of my long nap in such a superior bed.
The top cover, a pristine white comforter, was guarded by a super soft under sheet so tightly secured under the mattress that it reminded me of the old prank of short-sheeting someone’s bed. As an experienced traveler, I knew that I had to free the bottom of the covers all around the edges of the bed before I got into it.
As I circled the bed, I had never realized how tightly wrapped hotel sheets could be. No wonder the mattress was wreaking vengeance on my attempts to free it from its bandage of cloth. I actually thought that I heard the mattress groan as I tried to free the tight band of covers as if I were ripping duct tape off a hairy arm. Finally I tossed the covers up onto the middle of the bed, hoping to give me a place to sit.
Confidently, facing the bed, I placed both hands on the mattress and tried to raise one leg onto the mattress. I pulled back amazed. The mattress was inordinately high, way too high for me to climb into. My raised leg barely reached the bottom box spring. In my need for sleep, I had not considered that the height of the bed might be an obstacle. I sidled up beside the bed to measure just how high it was. Higher than my knees, higher than my hips, higher than my waist – that’s when I knew that I was in trouble.
I couldn’t have done it at any age but most certainly not at the age I was now. I could never have gotten one leg up – much less two legs – up on that mattress. The bed was simply too high for me to get any part of my lower body onto the top of the mattress. That’s when I first heard the bed snicker. I ignored it.
Before the bed could further diminish my confidence, I quickly tried to raise my knee to give me leverage to throw myself onto the bed. The bed won once again as my knee slipped down the slick covers. At the next attempt, I tried to insert my toes between the mattress and the box spring – no luck there either. This time the bed guffawed.
Two attempts and I got down to serious bed-climbing.
I backed up, put my arms behind me, and jumped upward and backwards, hoping to hoist myself into a sitting position onto the waiting bed. Instead my heels scrabbled at the sides of the mattress and box spring as my arms weakened. The bed had other plans for me, rejecting me outright and forcing me to slip downward to the carpet again.
Steeling my nerve, I looked again at the bed’s challenging height, judged my distance, angle, and approach and flung my upper body onto the bedcovers, grasping desperately with my fingers to pull myself up. Instead I slid none too gracefully onto the floor, defeated once more.
What I needed was a way up that mountain of white. It had become a point of honor for me.
All this furor reminded me that humans are eventually smarter than inanimate objects. After all, I had been able to conquer getting into bed all my adult life. There had to be a way.
The only chair, a mesh-backed desk variety, would be no help since it would swivel around and topple me, even if I could manage to stand up on it. There was no loose furniture I could pull into place. My suitcase was not solid-sided so that was no help.
I was about to call for a fireman’s ladder when, glancing around, I spotted a wastebasket, a solid plastic wastebasket. I snuck it around behind my back so that the bed would not see me upend the basket, step up on it, and launch myself as far toward the middle of the bed as I could without tumbling off the opposite side. The mattress sighed in submission.
Victory was sweet.
Getting down was no problem as I just slid off.
All in all, the room was so inconvenient that I cancelled the rest of my stay, called another hotel in the same chain, inquired if they had been renovated as yet (they hadn’t), and moved 20 miles closer to my destination. The attendant looked strangely at me when I asked, before I handed her my credit card, just how high their beds were.
She looked at me strangely for a moment before replying that their beds were normal size and height for a hotel bed. They were and I slept very well for the next two nights.
When I got home, I personally patted my own bed and shook its covers free before I subsided into the first really safe night’s sleep in several days.
However, the monstrous bed got its vengeance. The first hotel attendant did not cancel my other two nights’ stay and it took several weeks to get the extra fees off my credit card with many calls to the hotels, credit card places, and sundry other places. The Bears did not sue me for breaking their door but this experience did teach me a lesson.
I may never leave home again without a lock-picking tool and mountain-climbing gear.