Buying a mattress can be just as complicated as buying a car. The best tip I can give you is this: you cannot comparison shop for mattresses using the name of a mattress. A mattress at one store will not be named the same at another store. The mattress industry does this intentionally. The best way to comparison shop a mattress is using coil count and just simply testing the mattress. Coil count will tell you the quality of a mattress. The American Bedding Commission has set a minimum standard for coil count, and I couldn't tell you exactly what that number is. But, when you see super cheap specials on mattresses, generally those mattresses do not meet ABC standards. Another good way to see if a mattress does not have the minimum coil count, if you sit on it, and you butt feels like it's in the box spring, it doesn't have a good coil count. Coil count will tell you the quality and lasting power of a mattress. A higher coil count will give you more support and make the mattress last longer. When you are shopping, don't be afraid to test the matresses. Bring a pillow, lay down just as you would when you are going to sleep. This is the best way to determine whats going to be the most comfortable to you. If you've ever wondered how to determine what mattresses are firm or soft? Look at the quilting, the closer the spacing, the firmer the mattress. And the farther apart the quilting, the softer the mattress. Soft mattresses can be just as supportive as firm mattresses. So if you like soft mattresses like me, you don't have to worry about losing support.

When you shop, look at coil count, and compare how they feel. When you go to another store, finding a similar mattress will be as simple as finding a similar coil count and firmness.

Another little piece of advice. Don't listen to the sales people. Chances are they don't know squat. Plus they are just trying to get a commission out of you. The only reason I know as much as I do is that when I was selling furniture, I just happened to be at work when the mattress reps came along. Talking to those guys gave me a very good idea of whats in a mattress and what makes a good mattress. Most stores do not train their sales people what so ever.

Don't be afraid to spend a little money. It's true that you can get a good deal on a mattress. One way to get a discount is at the end of the year, the mattress companies redesign all their styles, and they sell of the floor models at a discount. But a good mattress treated well will last close to a decade or more. So go for the higher priced models and you will not have to worry about the expence of buying a mattress for quite some time. And flip your mattress every six months. Also, do not store your mattress on it's side. That can damage it, store it flat.

One more piece of advice, some companies offer mattresses with individual coils. They give great support at first and really help when two people share a mattress and one is a restless sleeper, the other sleeper will not feel the tossing and turning. However, these coils have a memory after a while, and you can end up with a dent in your mattress. Plus, the foam padding between the coils comes loose and you end up with squeaks.

So, I hope someone can use this advice. If you take your time, and do your homework, you will end up with a comfortable mattress that lasts for years.

Oh, look. I learned a new word. Lede. Since it's not in any dictionaries we use in the civilized world, I will have to guess that it rhymes with mead and apparently it means, "Give us a synopsis of your long-winded writeup prior to embarking on your wordy testimonial, jerkwad, or we will fuck you up long time." So here is my lede:

Do you need a new mattress? How can you tell? What sort of mattress should you buy if you decide to replace the old one?

Good. Now that that's out of the way, I can begin my rambling personal story which, as you know, is a crucial part of anything of a factual nature which I write here. After all, it really is all about me, and as soon as we've established that we can get to the wisdoms which you all so badly need.

In just a few days, my lovely wife and I will be celebrating (which, by now, means actually ordering dessert after dinner at some overpriced restaurant) our 22nd wedding anniversary. How this woman has put with me for this many years should amaze you nearly as much as it does me. However, she'd be hard pressed to find another man at this point in her life with as much disposable income and (more importantly) as much life insurance with her name on it as primary beneficiary. So, every once in a while, she gets on my ass to cut loose of some of this income and actually replace something that's worn out. In this case, it was the mattress we've been sleeping on since we first got married.

When we got married, I was a struggling pawn in the sales racket who played in a rock band on the side. The drummer (the good-looking one in the band – that was de rigueur in the 80s; I'm not sure if it's still true today) was also a contractor who did a room addition to our little house soon after we moved in. He also built for us a platform bed as a wedding present. I wasn't into water beds, but I'd spent my entire hippie youth sleeping on a mattress on the floor, so anything with box springs always felt like something for effete pansies who walked more than one dog at a time and who put their little fingers out while sipping tea. I was also convinced that they were bad for your back. So my plan was to just put a king size mattress into the platform bed frame and that's what we've been sleeping on for over twenty years. It was a fairly high end mattress and I wish I could remember what it cost back then, just for comparison prices to what I had delivered today, but I can't.

Frankly, I would have kept sleeping on this old mattress until the day I died (a day many of you are anxiously awaiting, I know, but I am fairly well armed, modern pharmaceuticals are really miracles and, quite frankly, you can kiss my geriatric ass), but my wife and I spent a week in a high-dollar resort in Orlando recently. There they had those new pillow-top mattresses and she realized that she didn't wake up each morning feeling like she'd been beaten like a piñata all night. This realization immediately cost me well over a thousand bucks.

I was still not sold on the idea at the time, but since she didn't harp on it and piss and moan about it, I realized how much I value her for that very quality and we went mattress shopping soon after getting home.

Today the new mattress was delivered and I learned a few things. First of all, I found out I'm an idiot. We should have done this a long time ago. Did you know that a mattress will double in weight every ten years? The two boys who pulled our old one out of the house said ours felt as if it had tripled. I was wondering why it became harder and harder to flip the damn thing every year or so. The gruesome part is the "why" the weight increases over time. Do you have a guess? If you guessed dead skin, dust and dust mites, dandruff, dried bodily fluids, alien hormone injections, plasma currents from underneath the bed and dog farts, you would have been correct on most of those guesses. Let's just say that the boys who took it out washed their hands before they touched the new one. And that was their idea.

That was the mattress on which our only child was conceived (even though I think we were actually hovering above it at that time, like the couple in The Sacrifice), and I was attached to it for that as well as other sentimental reasons. I had hoped the it could have been used for helping hurricane victims in the Ninth Ward, but according to my mattress removal team, those folks would rather sleep ten deep on each other than on my old mattress. So I guess there goes my tax write-off.

We bought a World Class (this phrase must be added prior to the brand name for trademark reasons) Beautyrest Florin model, which the salesman said is the same bed on which we were sleeping in the Orlando hotel. I have no reason to doubt him. It even said so on the internet.

We tried out the other two main alternatives before we checked out competing traditional mattresses. First we went to the Select Comfort store where we were treated to a test drive in order to determine our "sleep number." Those beds felt good, and the concept of being able to adjust your side of the bed to a comfort level different from your sleeping partner sounds attractive. But for Chrissakes, it's just a glorified air mattress and the thought of spending $1800 plus tax for a king size with a small pillow top sounded outrageous. Then I had a couple of salesmen for traditional mattresses tell me all that was really wrong with them. Some or all of this may be true, but a search of the internet will confirm that folks are saying these things about the Select Comfort beds.

Is the return rate on the product around 50%? (I have not been able to verify this, but it may well be if you factor in the "30-day free home trial" they offer. Note: If you do take this trial and decide you don't want it, you'll have to pay around $75 to ship it back to the dealer.) Can a feisty dog bite a hole in it? Can an evil housecat claw a hole in it? Does it deflate when the electricity periodically goes out?

Whether or not any of that is true, there does seem to be one problem that crops up over and over concerning these air beds. The fact that one side will likely be firmer than the other causes that person to roll toward the softer side. This leads to the company having to send out "chamber lift kits" which are just pieces of foam which don't solve the problem for most folks. I mean, let's face it: Those scenes in movies where men and women wake up from a good night's sleep all entwined and wrapped up all over each other don't bear any resemblance to the reality of over twenty years of marriage.

My main concern about the Select Comfort deal was that I was going to have to cut holes in the platform bed frame in order to hook up the two tubes which are used to inflate each side of the mattress. And I was going to have to find a place to put that boom box-sized pump that does the work.

When we got to the traditional mattress dealerships, the first thing we were shown were the new memory foam mattresses which are the other "new thing" in product line. Here are some things which may or may not be true about these products. Do they suffer from "off gassing"? Will they hold moisture from night sweats or hot flashes? How much does the density of the foam matter? Are they way overpriced? None of this really matters if you just plain don't like the feel of them, which I don't. I bought one of those pillows once and took it back the next day. Our salesman didn't much like them either. He went into excruciating detail telling us how he was shot six times in the Army and how he wound up hanging in a tree in Vietnam and had to cut his parachute lines and fell into what he considered quicksand and how he stayed there for four hours before anyone got him out and how when he first laid down on one of the memory foam mattresses he had a flashback and injured the two men who had brought the product into his store before he came to his senses . . . This story did nothing to convince my wife to do business with him, although I must say it did enliven my afternoon of shopping; an activity during which you rarely hear harrowing war tales. (Tip to Salesmen Everywhere: Women don't like war. They don’t like to hear about it. It does not make their dicks hard.)

This is the same war veteran salesman from whom we did not buy the Sealy Gallimore model (quite similar to the one we did buy for $1200) for $1480 including tax. This same fellow dogged all of the other competition just as ferociously as he did the Select Comfort bed as well as the foam memory bed which he was actually selling himself. (Second Tip to Salesmen Everywhere: No one likes it when you tell a customer that every product sucks ass except the one you want to sell. Women see through this, even if their men enjoy seeing you punk the hell out of folks.)

I told the Beautyrest salesman who wanted to sell me the World Class Beautyrest Florin mattress for only $1199 plus tax ($1499 with a box springs set, just FYI) that the war hero Sealy salesman was willing to sell me the Sealy Gallimore (almost exactly the same bed) for $1200 including tax (which was an outright lie – he never went below $1480, even though he probably would have if I'd decided to do business with him and used this age-old Hebrew Talmudic technique on him). I told him that I really liked his product better and I'd give him the same $1200 flat. So it was delivered today at that price. That's cheaper that you can buy it on the internet, as far as I can ascertain.

So how does it sleep? We'll find out tonight. If it's anything less than an improvement, I'll let you know later. If you don't hear from me, I'm probably napping.

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