Friday, Oct. 12: Fall break ’07 found me and 18 other students piling into cars and driving down to the Outer Banks, where some real estate company had been naive enough to rent us a beach house.
p. A palatial place, this house was. Its three stories offered multiple kitchens, a pool, a hot tub, a sauna, a dumbwaiter and a billiards table. Most of the multitudinous bedrooms had their own bathrooms and balconies. As the 19 of us stormed our castle, a class system was delineated. Three factions emerged forming rifts that would last the entire vacation: bed people, couch people and floor people. I was going to have to sleep on a couch.
p. Saturday, Oct. 13: Here’s the thing about being a couch person. It’s not that sleeping on a couch is inherently awful. The problem is privacy, not physical comfort. Couches are public spaces, used by everyone during the day and for most of the night. Their communal nature creates the two problems that are the bane of every couch person’s meager existence.
p. First, one’s possession of the couch for slumber purposes does not carry over from night to night. Once one rises for the day and leaves the couch, it’s unmarked territory. (I considered marking it in the manner typically endorsed by male mammals but decided against it.) This means that couch people are always wary of other couch people, and especially wary of floor people, who are looking to advance in the world.
p. Sunday, Oct. 14: The other big problem for couch people is that when bed people wake up, they traipse into your space and start making noise, cooking breakfast and checking e-mail. Unless you’re the first one up, you’re going to be rudely awakened.
p. I resented bed people. After all, I didn’t get up early in the morning and walk into their rooms. But bed people, tucked safely into queen-sized quietude, could not understand. Their wealth robbed them of their compassion.
p. Meanwhile, rumors were abuzz. It seemed that a pair of bed people were slated to leave tomorrow, thus freeing up a room. Who would claim it? How could I ensure that it would be mine? Why did I want it so badly?
p. Monday, Oct. 15: Those bed people did leave, and they took a few couch and floor people with them. By Monday evening, the sleeping situation was far less cutthroat. After several nights of fending for myself in untamed public space, I traded in my cushions for a bona fide mattress.
p. Curiously enough, the girls who bestowed me their room didn’t seem too miffed at having to leave it. One of them told me how she’d been sitting in the room one afternoon, seeking a respite from noise, and was able to hear multiple couples in the throes of passion. She made the entire bed person way of life sound achingly isolated.
p. I didn’t believe her, but I should have. When I retreated to my new digs late that night, I could feel the walls vibrate rhythmically to sex that I wasn’t having. I showered in my secluded bathroom and listened to music through the privacy of my own headphones. I slept in the center of the bed with an unhealthy number of pillows as satellites.
p. Tuesday, Oct. 16: The morning after. Silence. I had become the very type of person I loathed. The couch person’s routine was far less lonely than my current one. Bed people, both singularly and in pairs, were self-interested and deluded. I believed that my past as a couch person might exempt me from bed people’s hallmark egocentrism, but it didn’t. Upward mobility had corrupted me.
p. __Dan Piepenbring is a Confusion Corner columnist. He hopes to one day be a Tempur-Pedic person.__