Someone once asked me what my sleep number was.
“Twelve,” I spurted.
I threw it out there. It sounded mediocre to me. The reality was that I didn’t know my number. I didn’t know what the numerical range was on that bed. I guessed it might have been twenty. That was me, again arriving at a slightly above average underlining of myself. I think it started in Jr. High when I hovered around lower B’s and C’s during puberty. Some sort of chemical fusion must have etched “average” into my genetic landscape. Anyway, I felt I needed an immediate answer to this young lady, so twelve it was.
“You like it really soft then,” she said.
Then I wondered, embarrassingly, what the range on this Cadillac bed could be. So, back at the hotel I messed with the buttons to see how ignorant and/or arrogant my answer was. The number quantified a part of my personal value after all. I mean, we sleep one third of our lives, so a third of who I am rests in the horizontal position. I kind of wanted to know my guess was at least close to being honest with her (assuming she actually gave thought to the brief interchange that lodged itself into my self-i-ness). The beds max was one hundred…Wow, in Jr. High twelve percent would have represented bad guessing on a quiz at best.
I then wondered what twelve would feel like. I sat on the bed while it exhaled, stopping at intervals to check the number. “Sheesh, will I ever reach twelve?!” I whined quietly as my butt cheeks slowly descended. Then I realized, as any Sleep Number owner knew, that twelve wasn’t a possibility. Fifteen or ten was reachable, but not a dozen.
Why not a dozen? What if my sensitive lower lumbar number five was overlooked because of some engineer’s fascination of counting by fives? Maybe the marketing strategy was to give consumers the option of a plateau of one hundred, (bed of nails) so they could sleep in peace knowing they are a 4.0. The think tank developers probably sat in the board room with charts and dry erase swords and thought…”Let’s go after the mid-life crisis group. Their backs are starting to fossilize.” Or maybe they were after 40ish types like me who wear their Jr. High grades like briefs that expose the color of the elastic band every time they bend over. The one(like me) who thinks to himself that if his sleep number mirrors his Jr. High grades, at least eight hours a day his mind and body are one.
It’s funny how the answer of twelve has led me to feel like I am twelve again. How can a sleep number ascend to my conscience a pubescent genetic altercation? Garrison Keillor, how can you and your Prairie Home Companions endorse such an emotionally damaging sleep aid?