I was married in August 1973 and immediately bought a waterbed!
Oh that’s a shocker? Everyone should know why, I as a young man, bought the fluid-filled-fun ship without me having to say it. Obviously, it wasn’t because I liked to listen to plastic imprisoned bubbles sloshing around under my sheets when I rolled over. Yep, no male agendas here, , , nope not here. If you believed that then you believed good ol Tricky Dicky Nixon told all of us, “I am not a crook,” back in the good ol’ 70’s just before he resigned as President.
Oh yeah! I reacted when we decided the bed was our first major purchase as a family. I began practicing lines like, ‘Whose your Daddy?’ and ‘Hey Baby’, in low seductive Luther Vandross tones.
Before the decision, I had talked to a friend of mine whose brother owned and operated the first wood waterbed manufacturing company in Arizona. He had started the company in 1972, just one year after the waterbed was invented in San Francisco and finally patented in 1971. His company supplied all the parts and pieces of the wooden frame that held in the ‘sea of sleep’.
“Hey, let’s go over to the bro’s place and see if he’ll give ya a deal on a bed?” Danny said.
“Sure, we should probably take my pickup in case he has one for me.”
Together we drove down to the factory and acted as if we should be there by pulling through the gate and parked in the back. Piles of pinewood, broken and split, were scattered everywhere about the yard. The loud humming of buzz saws and wood dust vacuums kept us from talking as we went under the metal garage door.
“He’s in the office,” Danny yelled as he pointed to the glass window past the dozen or so workers at the machines. I nodded and followed him down the aisle between the huge equipment.
“Hey Larry,” Danny greeted him as we walked into the small office. More pieces of wood samples littered one corner of the one-desk room. “This is the buddy I was talking about that needed a frame.”
Larry shook my hand without getting up. “I have a frame with a dent from the idiot on the belt-sanding machine. You can have that, just pay for the sideboards and platform. I’ll throw in the headboard. Do you have a mattress?”
“There’s five samples in the warehouse. You can have which ever one fits.”
“Wow thanks Larry. Do you know what size it is?” I asked, knowing a twin was not going to work for me. I had plans for the bedroom and ‘Splish splash I was taking a nap’, was not in my plan nor my bride’s either. Least that’s what I thought.
“It’s a king, I think. Ask Jeremy, he knows where it’s at,” Larry pointed out through the glass.
“Okay,” Danny said as we walked out into the noisy factory.
Danny knew who Jeremy was as he worked for Larry for some time. Jeremy pointed out the mistake the sander operator had done to the headboard. I could barely tell anything was wrong and besides the scuff was on the backside.
“Hey Jeremy,” my voice was raised in question. “Is this what I think it is?”
“Yeah,” he answered in a heavy southern draw, knowing what I was about to ask. “It’s a Pacifica King. Very high-end and Larry said to charge you twenty bucks.”
My eyes rolled like an ocean wave when I heard the price. I knew this model was top of the line and went for $79.99 at some stores and $89.99 at most. I even saw it once for a hundred bucks without tax. I was ecstatic. My Last Tango in Paris lover style and abilities were coming true and I quived in anticipation of the long practice sessions ahead.
I handed Jeremy the 20 bucks in ones and a five and hurriedly loaded the mahogany-stained planks of wood and the minimally damaged headboard of my new wet dream machine into the back of the truck. All the way back to the apartment I kept saying thanks to Charles Hall the inventor of the modern day waterbed.
I shook my head in awe of Chuck’s visionary genius. I pondered how could it be that one man could come up with such a tremendous idea. I glance in the rear view mirror to check and make sure my vinyl pleasure pit was still aboard and safe.
We backed the truck as close to the apartment’s door and went inside to remove the old bed. That took about thirty minutes because getting the antiquated mattress was quite difficult to get around the corners of the hallway. With sockets and screwdrivers in hand, Danny and I began the process of ‘wetting the bed’.
Sometime around midnight and three six packs deep I turned on the hose bib and water began to fill the mattress. After another hour of watching the bed rise a couple of inches or so, we decided to bring in the aged mattress and use it on the floor to sleep. Kim decided to go to her Mom’s and sleep hours before we got home with the bed.
The plan was to wake up every hour or two and check the depths of the filling sea-ly. Once asleep, we didn’t wake up until the sunlight brightened up the living room curtains.
“Shit!” I screamed after noticing our mistake. Danny sat up like post mortem corpse and sat there while I jumped up to go into the bedroom.
“Just warning you Dude. The hose looks bigger,” Danny said loud enough for me to here him in the other room. “For God’s sake be careful. You might drown.”
When I got to the bedroom the bed mattress looked as it was bread proofing in a tin. The watery mushroom had risen to the point of negative pressure with the hose. The hose was running in reverse against the pressure and once it reached positive, the water would cycle back into the bed. The hydrated seesaw filled the rented room and acted as if it was alive and breathing.
Danny came into the room, “Thar she blows!”
“Quit goofing around and go outside and shut the water off.”
Danny had finally shut off the hose and I went out to get a pair of pliers to release the pressure at the bib. Managing to get to the last thread without a watery explosion, I cranked the pliers the last turn. The end of the hose came off the bib with a fury and the hose danced on the grassy lawn like a chinese dragon. I grabbed and finally got control of the unleashed water-spitting rubber snake.
The pressure was so great, a couple of cars stopped on the street for a wash. Danny slid open the bedroom window, “It’s going down pretty good. Comes out a lot faster than it goes in,” he announced. “How we gonna get the hose off the bed?”
I hadn’t thought about that part of the plan yet and knew somewhere in the plan we were about to develop, the word, ‘quickly’, had something to do with it. Minutes later it was time to part the hose from the mattress. The pressure had decreased to a dribble so I dropped the hose and went inside with the pliers.
“Here use these to get it off,” I said as I handed the tool to Danny.
Danny sat down with a slosh on the bed and unscrewed the hose. Like Old Faithful, the water came out of the mattress with force and hit the popcorn textured roof and removed the texture.
“Get off!” I yelled. Danny stood up and the water settled. I screwed on the first threaded end cap and then screwed on the second one for protection from leaks to come, I guessed.
Danny and I stood back for a moment and took in the view of my newest prize from the bedroom doorway. The mattress moved in slow motion like the belly of a two-thousand pound man.
“It’s pretty big,” Danny quipped. “There’s nowhere to put the phone let alone a night stand.”
He was right. There was about five inches on each side of the bed, just enough to stand next to it as long as your feet were sideways too. I slapped hard on the plastic mound of water in a bed. “Yep. There’s gonna be some miracles made right here. I’m gonna show her more things about the ‘humpity-humpity’ than she ever knew existed. A real Don Juan.”
Danny nodded in approval, “Yep you’re a real Don Juan alright. Do it Juan, then you’re Don.”
“Give me the phone asshole.” I held out my hand. “I’m going to tell Kim to stay at her Mom’s again so I can go get some sheets and clean up the mess in the front room. Might get me some of those satin ones. You know, the slippery ones. I’ll tell some bullshit story about something else and surprise her when she comes home. She’ll put the ‘likety-like eye’ on it when she sees it.”
For the rest of the morning and most of the day, I cleaned up, threw the old bed in the dumpster, drank several beers, ordered in a pizza and bought cotton sheets. The satins were too expensive. By 4 o’clock, I needed a nap so I laid on the newly made bed for a rest and with luck a dream. Danny was already out on the couch making slurping sounds and moaning words I couldn’t understand.
I closed my eyes. By 6 o”clock, my body had already been frozen in place and an alive rigor had taken over my joints. My drool had formed an icicle from the side of my mouth and was stuck to the pillow. “Danny!” I screamed.
Danny woke up and came in. By that time I was standing by the bedroom door, staring at the ice sheet that had taken over my home. “I think you need a heater,” Danny said.
“A waterbed heater. That’s why they make them. I forgot to tell you about the heater part.”
“Where do you get them at?” I asked.
“At a waterbed store, I guess. I’ll call the bro.”
Within an hour we were back at the apartment and the new ten dollar heater with a mountable thermostat was in place. By that night the temperature had not gone up very much so I dragged the old mattress out of the dumpster and hauled it back to the liviing room floor. Someone had spilled something smelly on it in the trash so we turned it over on the bad side and went to sleep.
In the morning, I was greeted by the love and warmth of my personal hot springs of vinyl in the bedroom. Kim would be home in a couple of hours and I wanted to surprise her. Danny took the old mattress out to the trash again and left. I went back in after saying I’d see him later and waited.
The door opened and Kim had a bag of groceries her Mom had given us. As she sat them down on the table I asked her to come to the bedroom to see something. “Really? I just got home. Can’t I sit down?”
“Come on, you like it.”
“If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, I’m not in the mood for it right now. And where did you ever get the idea I liked it anyway?
“Not that. That’s for tonight. I bought you a special surprise.”
Kim shuffled her feet as she went toward the doorway leading her into our bedroom.
She rounded the corner and instantly stopped in awe. She stood there for over a minute before she finally spoke, “Where do you put the phone?” She looked up, “And what happened to the ceiling?
I jumped on the motionless mattress with a flop causing Kim to smile. She put her hand on it and said only one word, “Warm.”
“Sure is. Don Juan style,” I said in the low voice I had been practicing.
“Maybe tonight,” she said as she looked down at me lying in a provocative way. “I said maybe.”
We spent the rest of the year sleeping and sometime not sleeping, if you know what I mean, on our hand-crafted, top of the line, Pacifica waterbed. Turned out, Danny was right about my Don Juan theory.
I should sit down and write Charles Hall and thank him. Maybe I should tell my first born to write him instead.
The 80’s rolled in and we had moved into a new home. I begrudgingly discarded the waterbed, which by then was covered in patches from all the leaks. The mattress where my son was conceived had served me well. I replaced it with a nice over-priced Sealy Posturepedic so the new Mom and baby boy could nap comfortably.
I remember the day we brought him home for the first time. I remember it exactly.
Kim was so exhausted from her hospital stay. I could see it in her eyes so I told her to take a nap on our nice warm bed. She laid down on her side as I placed the beautiful baby who was wrapped in a soft blanket next to her so they could sleep.
I looked down in awe of the miracle I had predicted that the Pacifica, and I, would give to her even though that wasn’t exactly what I meant at the time. The baby’s eyes opened slightly and look up at me. The practice proved to be worth it. I smiled and whispered softly in a Father’s voice.
“Whose your Daddy?”
“The best part of life starts at the head of the stretch.”