Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Instructions to furniture makers:

a good measure for a bed
is the measure of a cross:
there should be room to stretch your arms

- Yehuda Amichai (Unpublished Fragment)

Isn't it interesting how they call it a twin bed. Not single, but twin. As though one lonely bed deserved another. As though somewhere out there, among the million lights of the city, there was a room with a bed just like this one, where a beautiful stranger [1] waits, sharing the abstract insight [2] of this moment's longing, the same desire to touch "unclaimed by fear of imminent day" [3]. As if these beds were made (in some Platonic carpenter shop) strictly in twos, and the fact that there is only one of them in this room means only that its twin is out there somewhere, bereft, waiting anxiously for that moment when the two of them can be laid side by side again.

What a sweet deception. What a small, but gentle kindness. The man who first came up with the idea of calling them twin beds must have been a true poet. This way you never have to face up to how alone you really are, never have to be judged by strangers, never have to be judged by yourself. This is delusion, yes, but it is also hope (and are the two that different after all?) - it is a way of coping.

Why not just stand up (or in this case lie down) to the facts though? Call a spade a spade, a single bed a single bed? Why not accept that among the limits you have set for yourself in living the life you choose to live is this 6 x 3 border, this rectangle of edges just wide enough to enclose your body and your body alone, the nothingness falling away on every side. Why not judge yourself by the breadth of your waking days rather than by the narrowness of your bed?

Let me say it then. I have a single bed. Not twin, not one half of some flat, primordial egg-shell. Single.

I can use the extra space.


[1] Of course, with my luck, even if there is such a twin bed it's almost certain to be occupied by a 300 pound male biker.

[2] Auden, "While an abstract insight wakes / Among the glaciers and the rocks / The hermit's sensual ecstacy". Complete poem here.

[3] Vikram Seth, Unclaimed


The Black Mamba said...

Beds - Interesting topic. Reminds me of another Vikram Seth poem, All You who Sleep Tonight

But honestly, you live in the land where people cannot accept the fact that they drink a small cup of coffee. Even the smallest size must be called - Tall.

Euphemisms are so common, they have become just as offensive and painful. Don't think anyone gets fooled by twin - when referring to bed sizes.

Falstaff said...

Black Mamba: Ya, thought of that one, but like unclaimed better.

And aargghh!! you just stole topic for future post - on the complete meaninglessness of coffee cup sizes. Sigh. You're right about no one getting fooled, of course, but at least you can look people in the eye and say, "hey, I could actually have twin beds, you know" :-).

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work »