futon - threat to society

My ex-husband and I may have had our differences, but God bless him for supporting all my counter-cultural decisions. Like homebirthing. And homeschooling. And the family bed.

behold. the futon. public enemy #1.

behold. the futon. public enemy #1.

Which was usually a futon. But, in those days, that was acceptable. Now, apparently, it makes you a freak of nature.

15 years later, and my partner, B, and I are out mattress shopping. (I have since had a 'regular' mattress, and it's become a hammock. And not in a good way). I had just read Katy Bowman's article which only confirmed my desire to go more 'minimal' (B was leaning toward a Sleep Number - which I had also had once, but I just didn't like the idea of 'technology' in my bed.) Did a quick check on a local big name mattress outlet's website, and yes, they, listed futons. I wasn't completely sold, but I did ask B to at least consider the idea... which he was willing to do.

Noticing that futons were not on display in the actual store, we asked the salesman if he carried any.

"To sleep on?"


"As your primary sleeping location?"

B and I looked at each other.

"Uh huh. Yeah." I sensed trouble, as he repeated his question a third time.

Out came the spiel about how we would never want to do that, what it would to our bodies, and I really wish I had recorded all of the high-tech mattress lingo that followed. You'd think we just requested a dog kennel*. B looked at me and winked. I took that moment to run to the ladies' room, already deciding that I wanted to leave.

B persevered. Okay. So, how about the firmest mattress you have?

Again with the 'what that will do to your body', and contact points, and we're all about making sure you get a restful sleep (they, after all, are the sleep professionals!), and he's having us lie down, and asking if I can feel my hips (huh?) and placing different pillows under my head for the right angle of my shoulder... and my god... how on earth did humans ever survive for millennia sleeping without specialty foam and 'virtually infinite ergonomic foot and head positions'?!

Fine. I know we as a culture have bought into and then self-perpetuated a need for external support as our bodies have become less able to support themselves. Blog fodder for another day. But what really got me was when B started to explain to him that we were bodyworkers, and not only do we deal with postural injuries, but ... hey! Where is he going? And, oh my God, is he actually walking away with a 'Uh huh. Yeah ... okay...."?!

Seriously? Are we THAT out there? Or has he caught on that he's probably not going to sell us a $1,200 mattress?

As we were conducting this conversation while lying on said $1,200 mattress (me and B, not the sales dude), B says, so do you have any others in the price range? Sales dude comes back. He answers a few more questions with a little less used car salesmanship than he exuded when we first came in. I whisper to B, "Can we go now?"

We were polite. And then we left. Overreaction on my part, I'm sure (and I'm sure his associate got an earful after we left), but I was pissed. It felt too much like the old debates concerning my choice to homeschool. Actually, no, it was not like a debate. It was like being written off with, "Oh, you're one of THOSE.." whatever those are. It's BEDDING for god's sake, but clearly I'm too ignorant to understand the Importance of Proper Sleep, which can only be granted through the god Tempur-Pedic.


On the one hand, it's scary, because this same mindset holds true about a lot of our improvements upon nature. You need a $1200 bed to support your body. You need a $300 pair of shoes to support your feet. You need ergonomic chairs and desks and cushions and wrist pads so you can sit still for long stretches of time. To suggest something more au natural is like, irresponsible! Or dangerous! Or at least, weird.

On the other hand, it means I'll probably be in business for a looong time as I try to relieve the aches and pains caused by such supports, and teach people how to ditch the fancy chairs and just move more often.

You may be reacting to this, as well. Fair enough. Truth is, my body has become a little too used to such things for my liking.

We hit another store - the one where I got the mattress I currently own 12 years ago.

The gal there was awesome, and she kindly explained that futons are just really hard to come by these days, not sure why. (See? Was that so hard??) She showed us the firmest mattress they carried (titanium springs! can you imagine?), and we admitted it was a bit much. She agreed, saying that it's a high seller amongst cultural members who are used to sleeping on floor mats, but not so much amongst us softer folk. B and I concurred that the one we chose was firm enough, less like a hard floor, and more like a plush lawn. So, at least we could imagine it was more 'natural'. :)

And it is true... just like it would be unwise for a hard-core shoe wearer to suddenly go 24/7 barefoot, as the complex musculature of the feet has weakened over the years, going from a cushy mattress/hammock/death trap to a futon or titanium springs might take some getting used to. It was a challenge I was willing to train for, but perhaps I'll just begin with trying to ditch the pillow.

Such a radical, I know.


* If you didn't get the reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGEeLtqtNvU#t=34