by Marjolaine Tremblay
How does that saying go?
“Invest in shoes or a mattress, because if you aren’t wearing the former, you’re on the latter.”
Is that it?
It’s something like that.
On its face, this advice is persuasive. Unless you’re a hobbit, an amputee, or a disgruntled Iraqi activist, your feet are shod for most of your waking hours... and even these listed exceptions need a comfortable place to rest their weary frames after a long day of drinking mead, sledge hockey, or the Quranic weaponization of uncleanly garb.
Both products—shoes and mattresses—are, in many contexts, necessity goods. People need mattresses, and people need shoes. As incomes rise, demands for both increase.
What’s baffling though, is the ubiquity with which both have also come to exist as luxury goods, ie. goods for which the increase in demand occurs at a higher rate than increases in income.
I mean, sure, shoes as luxury goods makes sense. As you make more money, you become more inclined to buy, say, $600 Fendi flip-flops or $7,000 Yeezy Boosts. Obviously! How else are people going to know that you’re making more money?
Shoes aren’t just shoes; they’re peacock feathers, and peacocking is what makes the world go ‘round.
On the contrary, mattresses are just mattresses. They’re rectangular, foam cushions that we seldom actually see. Nobody’s ever pulled a lay back to their bedroom to be spurned for having a mattress that doesn’t offer quite enough lumbar support. Literally the only expectations we should have of our mattresses is that they be somewhat soft and not too carcinogenic.
“Ahhh, sweet, sweet Marjolaine, you philistine—you naïve fool! I just bought a Tetraform™ HydroWave™ NanoMemory™ California King, and it’s completely changed my life! Sure, it set me back $3,500, but it’s definitely worth it.”
Well, objector, I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that you’ve been thoroughly bamboozled, and you’re telling yourself that it’s worth it because you’re too proud to admit you spent $3500 on a fucking piece of foam. The good news is that you’re far from the only one who’s this stupid.
Indeed, spending an exorbitant amount of money on mattresses is a deeply entrenched practice amongst all but the poorest of the poor.
Postmodern malaise, mostly—a lot of people simply have too much money.
But it’s also a consequence of consumer gullibility and duplicitous industry jargon. Tetraform™ isn’t a real technology, HydroWave™ isn’t a real technology, and neither is NanoMemory™.
It’s a piece of foam. It’s soft, and you sleep on it.
Just ask yourself, “What’s the wholesale cost of a standard, slightly-larger-than-human-sized block of polyurethane foam?”
Entire tens of dollars, probably.
We shouldn’t accept current prices lying down.
Mattresses should cost, like, $100.