Saturday, June 7, 2008

Down Escalator?

So we went to Le Mall to try to outfit a guest-room. The goal was to get things to put on a new bed, not just sheets but the whole arsenal of textiles.

If I go someplace to buy something, I like go in fast and buy it, almost like a raid. The only exception is in a used bookstore, wherein a might dawdle for a few minutes. I don't mind strolling down the main avenue of a mall. I rather like that experience. There is much to observe and question. But I hate "shopping" of any kind. The person I was with likes to sort through options in a rational, linear, patient way. She and I both joke about the possibility of our different approaches' being gendered, but actually, neither of us believes they really are. Put most men in an auto-parts store or a hardware-store, and they will dawdle and graze. Send most women to an auto-parts store, and they will not "shop." They will quickly identify and buy.

To get to a textile-venue, we had to go up an escalator, which was marked "UP." I found this to be redundant. Where else would an escalator go? Of course, the problem is that when they invented and named escalators, they had to have a analogous machine that took people down, and the inventors and namers boxed themselves in by using "escalator." Thus we now have the contradictory name "Down Escalator." This is like a forward retreat. What should the "down escalator" be called? I suppose it should be called what it is called. Everybody seems used to the name. I'd prefer the descender, however. The same problem obtains in the case of elevators, of course. To go from floor 3 to floor 1, one must be elevated downward. Escher.

We did find what we sought, but I found myself immersed in another set of language I did not understand--that of beds. There are duvettes. Is that the right spelling? I don't know what they are. On my own, I would never buy such a thing. There are comforters and quilts and bed-skirts. There are mattress-pads, and in the arena of sheets, there are thread-counts. I do hope someone has written a history of beds and bedding, just as one person has written a history of salt.

At my parents' house, I slept for years on what was called "a Navy bed." It was a simple wooden frame, with wire mesh (no springs), and a mattress of sorts thrown on top. One never knew how my parents ended up with such things, but apparently this thing had once belonged to the United States Navy. My father had served in the Army Air Corps, so obviously he didn't steal it from his "employer" during WWII. However, on that bed was a genuine Army blanket, green. I think in fact that he did haul that home from Europe, but who knows? It was a pretty short blanket, but it was all wool, and it was a horrific shade of green, of which I grew quite fond.

My parents themselves slept on a double-bed, not even a queen-sized mattress, and they had attached a reading lamp to the head-board. My father never required much sleep, so they might go to bed at 10 or 11, let's say, and then he might wake up at 1:00 a.m., smoke a cigar and read a Louis L'Amour paperback "western" in bed. My mother slept through all of this activity and pollution. When I learned of this, from my brothers or my mother, I naturally thought all parents engaged in such behavior. Of course The Father would wake up, smoke a cigar, and read a book, while The Mother slept. Thus had it been so since Adam and Eve. It all made sense, just like the Down Escalator does today.
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