You don’t hear waterbeds discussed much anymore. It seems like they died out with all the old hippies.
But there are still a few around. The waterbeds are now called “flotation sleep systems.” The old hippies are called “me and my husband.” And we have a waterbed.
Actually, we’ve had one for years. Not the same one, you understand. Waterbeds have a shelf life, and this will become readily apparent at some point.
The operative word used to be “point.” Old-fashioned waterbeds were simply plastic bags of water that you covered with whatever cloth was available. Neither the plastic nor the cloth was all that thick, even if the owners were. Try as you might, you could never find a quilt that would cover the whole thing at once. (Duvets were still far in the future, or in Europe, or somewhere.)
Back to the point. Or points, rather – those appearing at the ends of the toes of cats. Cats do not make good waterbed accessories. The first article I ever sold was to I Love Cats magazine, about how to make waterbed and kitties get along. (It took layers and layers of sheets, blankets, pads, and comforters. And those were just the bottom layers. You still needed blankets and comforters to go on top of the sleepers.)
Nevertheless, at some point (yes, I said it) a waterbed will spring a leak. In the Olden Days, that required a patch kit, rather like those used for bicycle inner tubes, which also no longer exist. The waterbed patch kits didn’t really work. All you could do was drain the waterbed, haul it outside and get a new one.
I had not been sold on the idea of getting a waterbed at first. The early ones squished and swayed and set up riptides, and I have an inner ear problem. I pictured myself throwing up every morning and giving my husband a pregnancy scare.
Now waterbeds are “waveless,” which means they come with long vinyl sausages, each to be filled with water, inside what is essentially a cardboard box. The mattress also comes with a patch kit, which is also useless. But at least you can drain and haul only the one leaky sausage and replace that one.
If you can find one. There are stores that will sell you a single sausage, or at least order the right model. We had to sleep on recliner chairs for a week and drive thirty miles to get one. Then again with the draining and hauling and let me tell you, even the individual sausages are heavy. Do you have any idea how much water actually weighs? I do.
Waterbed heaters are now out of vogue, owing to the possibility of electrocution, but for a while they were the must-have accessory. The one we bought (which managed not to fry us) came with a programmable alarm system. Not, as you might think, an alarm to warn of impending uncontrolled voltage, but a regular alarm of the sort that wakes you in the morning.
The SalesDude told us that it would wake us gently with a “tune.” OK. Sounds nice. Until the first morning it went off. Nee na nee nee nee na nee, nee na nee nee nee na nee, nee na nee nee nee na nee, nee nah nee nee nee na neeee! By the second nee na nee nee nee na nee we were fully awake and aware that the “tune” it was playing was “It’s a Small World.” We fumbled around and got it turned off before we lost our sanity, but only just barely.
When we went back to the store to complain, it went like this:
Us: Did you know that the alarm feature plays “It’s a Small World”?
SalesDude: No. ::snerk:: I had no idea! Hey, Jeff, did you know that the alarm feature plays ::snerk:: “It’s a Small World”?
Jeff: No! I had no idea! ::snerk:: ::snerk::
Us: Well, do you have one that plays anything else? Even “Edelweiss” would be better. Or “God Bless America.”
SakesDude: ::snerk:: No, that’s the only model there is. Isn’t that right, Jeff?
Jeff: ::cough:: That’s right. ::cough::
So then we had to buy a regular alarm clock too. Somewhere else.
The waterbed we have now keeps its tunehole shut, waves as much as your average fishbowl, and grudgingly accepts regular deep-pocket sheets. It fits in the frame of an Amish sleigh/spindle bed and looks like something that belongs in a bedroom, not a head shop or a crash pad.
Well, except for the old hippies sleeping on it.