I bought a sofa cover once. It was a blue and beige gingham number needed to cover a couch that my cats had been carving up for years. I didn't mind so much that I had to wrestle the parachutelike bag over the couch. That was a one-time job. But then I realized that every time someone sat on the sofa, the whole cover shifted, so those straight lines in the pattern stretched every which way, making the couch look worse than ever.
I referred to the label for instructions and saw the tiny print: "Straighten the sofa cover each day, just as you make your bed each morning."
"But," I cried out, "what if I don't make my bed every day?"
Of course, there was no one to hear my protest. The manufacturer of the sofa cover and the person who wrote the instructions were living somewhere in Costa Rica.
After a few months, I realized that the couch looked a lot better shredded than rumpled, so I rolled the cover into a ball and stuffed it under my unmade bed.
OK, so I confess, I don't make my bed every day. I've never really seen the point. Everyone could see that messy couch, but no one sees my bedroom except for my family.
When I was a kid, my mother was a stickler for making beds one could bounce a quarter on. Why some people feel the need to throw loose change on their beds I'll never know.
Mom would show us how she finessed each layer of blanket, sheet, and pillow until it all lay uniformly, like a perfectly constructed lasagna. Magically, her bed looked exactly the same every day.
I, however, showed no bedmaking acumen.
When I made my twin bed, the corner of a sheet always hung out – and lumps and bulges of undetermined origin popped out all around.
"But really," I asked her recently, some 30 years later, "what is the point of making my bed? I'm only going to mess it up again at night, and who cares if it's messy all day?"
Of course, she had the dissenting, neatnik point of view. "It always looks nice when your bed is made," my mother said. "Then you can walk in your room and everything looks in its place."
When I looked skeptical, she continued: "Well, it's nice when you get in at night. The sheets and blankets are all pulled straight, and you can slide in and be really comfortable. No one wants to climb into a bed that's all rumpled from the night before."
"But Mom, I can straighten the sheets right before I get into bed." I said. "What's the big deal?"
As most of our debates on housewifely topics end, she sighed, patted me on the shoulder, and walked away, shaking her head sadly.
Now I know I don't exactly win these debates, especially as laziness is at the core of my argument. Fortunately, though, I have a practical husband who usually agrees with me. He feels that the time people spend on things like cleaning is time they could have used solving the homeless problem or something important.
We're a sensible couple that way.
Now it looks as if the scientific community may be on my side, too.
Researchers at Kingston University in England have found that a tightly made bed is a perfect breeding ground for dust mites that live in mattresses. Just sleeping on a mattress makes it humid, and that helps mites living there thrive.
But it turns out that pulling those sheets and blankets tight around the mattress first thing in the morning holds in that humidity ... and there goes the neighborhood.
So, isn't it time we all give up making beds? Just think, you'll have more time to do other things – and you'll be in good company, too. There's me, of course. And then there are those Kingston University scientists. Certainly they wouldn't have discovered this monumental scientific fact if they'd made their beds every day.