40 Year Old Pillows

I didn’t think I’d ever make it to 40. Not specifically because I thought I’d die young, just because it seemed like a faraway number that only a different species of life could attain.

My family and friends made my 40th a special event. It was basically a full week’s worth of festivities. It kicked off on Nov. 9 when Chad was in town and took me to Bricktown Brewery for burgers and beer. On the 11th mom took me to my favorite restaurant, Charleston’s. On the 12th, my actual birthday, the kids made me custom birthday cards, while Missy made me a homemade pizza and a turtle cake (yum!). The next night I was treated to dinner, cigars and bar games by my friends. On the 15th I had lunch with my brother, and on the 16th I got a really nice card from my sister and her family in North Carolina.

Even considering that I snuck this picture without telling anyone, these guys look awful bored.

And that brings us to the pillow.

I’ve never bought one in my life. I went from using the one my mom got for me growing up to using the one my wife got for me a few years back. One of the many ways in which I am weird is my sleeping pattern. I fall asleep on my stomach and then switch to my side about halfway through the night. For the last several years, I’ve used the flat pillow I grew up with to fall asleep, then switch to the big tempurpedic one when I go to my side.

Thrilling blog so far.

A few weeks back Andrew asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I thought it might be nice to try to find one pillow that could work the whole night for me. Yes, I am aware that children are starving in Africa and I want an upgraded third pillow. Andrew and Allison were nice enough to go in together to get me that upgraded third pillow.

And so on Friday, after our lunch, Andrew and I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to pick out a pillow. I hadn’t given any thought to this process beforehand. And I couldn’t tell you if my experience was a normal one, because it’s the only pillow-buying experience I’ve ever had. But it was kind of weird.

First off, I had assumed that the pillows would be included in the “Bed” portion of Bed, Bath and Beyond. But evidently it’s “Beyond.” Literally two sections beyond the beds. Not that I’m trying to get a 30-minute test drive/nap on these pillows, but how am I supposed to tell if I like the way my head feels on the pillow if I can’t lay my head on the pillow? I grabbed three or four pillows and took them over to the “bed” section, but that felt weird too.

For one thing, there were only three beds over there. If “Bed” comprises 33% of your store’s name, you need more than three damn beds in the place. If I were named CEO of Bed, Bath and Beyond — a very distinct possibility after their board of directors reads this piece — I would demand that one of two changes take place. They should either put in a crappy, unmade bed in the pillow section explicitly for pillow testing, or just change the name of the whole operation to “Beyond” and end the façade of selling beds and baths. Now that I think about it, I’m not even sure they sell baths there.

Like I said, I carried my pillows over to the fancy beds and tried to test them out, but I didn’t want to lay all the way down on a $1200 bed I had no interest in buying just to test a $30 pillow. They had the beds propped up kind of high, so I tried to just stand next to the bed, lean over onto the bed without laying down and try it that way. My 40-year-old back did not like that, plus I felt like an alcoholic trying to sneak a flask out of my pocket and take a swig before anyone saw because I knew it looked ridiculous.

So I took the walk of shame back to the pillow section, holding four pillows, zero shreds of dignity and zero firsthand knowledge about which of these pillows I might like to purchase.

Let me tell you something else about these sample pillows. They’re all nasty. I wouldn’t expect them to actually be clean, but I can’t really think of a reason why every single one of them has a stain. A couple of them had red stains, which means that either blood or ketchup was involved. I started to think of some scenarios by which different-colored stains would arrive upon the pillows, then figured it best to leave the subject alone. But trust me, they be nasty.

Around this time, a BB&B employee came up and asked us if we needed any help. I told her my pillow preference and asked if she had anything that would fit the bill. She gave a couple of recommendations, after which her presence was no longer required. Yet it persisted. I know she was just trying to be helpful, but it’s been a couple of decades since I squeezed a pillow and then looked directly into the eyes of a complete stranger. She started talking about her daughter’s pillow preferences, which did not help make things less weird.

Averting my eyes did not help matters, as it usually ended with me looking at this guy hugging his own pillow. So many questions here.

The My Pillow guy holding his pillow

“My pillow” is 100% a mafia thing, right? Seems like the only way that name could get to market. When 15 marketing executives tell you to give it a real name and Al Capone stands up and says, “It’s my pillow. That’s what we’re calling it,” you name it My Pillow.

Also seems like the only way they’d plaster this dude’s picture on everything. Those same marketing execs probably went to him and said, “Look boss, we’re not saying you look completely creepy, but we gave Bob Saget a couple grand and a free pillow to be the face of this thing.” To which Al Capone said, “We got a problem here?” To which the execs said, “You going to keep the necklace on or…yep, great. Necklace looks classy.”

I tested the My Pillow, and at the risk of getting whacked I’m going on the record and saying it sucked. Also, crème colored stain. Next I tried a Claritin pillow. Have to admit, did not know that was a thing. Somehow supposed to fix your allergies while you sleep. I was born 40 years ago, not last night. So I passed on that, as well as the pillows infused with charcoal and the pillows infused with CBD oil. Somehow, those are real products that people buy.

This epic business battle for my siblings’ pillow money came down to two pillows. One was called the 5 degree pillow and claims to be 5 degrees cooler than the rest of the room. The other was easily the best pillow in the room. I think it was made from clouds or something. The only problem is that it cost more than twice as much as the next most expensive pillow in the place.

I was skeptical about the 5 degree cooler thing, but I liked the firmness of the pillow. Seemed like it was right in the happy zone between too flat and too big. Our helpful sales lady said it really was 5 degrees cooler and I could take it out of the bag and test it. Son of a bitch really is cooler than everything else in the room. This might be the greatest worthless invention of our generation.

All things being equal, I would have bought the pillow made from slaughtered whale blubber but I couldn’t bear the idea of spending $200 on a pillow, even if it was my brother and sister’s money. So I’ve got this five degree thing. If you’d like to buy one without being stared at by a single mother working in the pillow section at Bed, Bath and Beyond, here’s a link.

So far, the pillow seems to be working out. I have woken up with frostbite on my ears the last two days, so that’s a plus. They didn’t sell me a crock of crap.

Thanks to my siblings for the pillow. Thanks to my wife, kids, mom and friends for the birthday gifts. Thanks to everyone who texted, emailed or Facebooked to pass along wishes. Thanks to the My Pillow guy for keeping it real. And thanks to all of you for reading a blog about pillows.

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