Keeping My Bed Sheets Clean

Keeping My Bed Sheets Clean

By David Himmel

I have been teased, insulted, looked at strangely when I tell people that I iron my bed sheets. It’s a topic that comes up quite often in conversation. And that’s because I love talking about it. I’m an evangelical of crisp, clean, smooth bed sheets. Trust me when I tell you that getting into freshly washed and pressed sheets is the second greatest feeling you can feel in your bed. And sometimes, it’s a very close second, depending on the company you’re keeping.

I suppose in a way, I can see how others might consider my anal efforts a waste as the pressed feeling lasts only about 20 minutes, or as long as it takes you to roll over once or twice. But I know a guy who has his bed sheets dry-cleaned and starched. That is dedication. That is honorable. And to many, that may be psychosis. And if I were a gay man, this would be all I’d need to slide into bed with him.

 Not the author's bed but doesn't that look amazing?

Not the author's bed but doesn't that look amazing?

Oh, what a feeling that must be! Professionally cleaned and pressed bedding... Still, I’ll take the dodgiest of women as bunk mates over sliding into a dry-cleaned bed spread with another man. I’m not that kind of anal. (Lame gay sex joke = 5 points.)

I recall fondly, the last time I bought new linens as a single man. High thread count, white sateen sheets and an equally high thread count duvet. It was time to replace what I’d been living in. It’s not that the sheets were ratty or anything, it was just time. I'd had them long enough and I wanted new sheets to iron and slide into. Because when you sleep as little as I do, it helps to treat every moment of it like it could be the last time you ever get to sleep in a nice bed.

The sheets I had retired rode off with some great memories. There were the lazy weekend mornings where I slept in until 7 a.m. There was watching the Kentucky Derby in bed, which led to me and my guest’s own kind of run around the track. (Lame hetero sex joke = 3 points.) There were nights of drinking champagne in bed, nights of friends interrupting a severe make out session and spilling their red wine all over them. And I’ll always have those memories, so I never had to miss them.

What I also didn’t miss were the vague remnants of eye-liner stains on the pillow cases. They’d been there for nearly four years. Back then, I spent the night with a girl, who would soon be a steady girlfriend, and in the morning, I noticed the dark stains on my bright white pillow cases. I was not OK with this. In fact, I almost didn’t move things forward with her for that exact reason. I’m not kidding. And in hindsight, I may have been better off doing just that.

Instead, we went on to live together and shared several collections of sheets. All of which had pillow cases stained with make-up. I forced myself to not let it bother me because I loved her and I thought I’d rather have a girl who didn’t always wash her face before bed than one who was as strictly anal and makeup-free at bedtime as I was. You know, the Yin and the Yang of slumber.

So, there I was with a few hundred bucks worth of new, designer sheets, and I considered only bringing them out all pressed and perfect for special occasions. Such occasions like me sleeping alone. And only after I had showered the day’s dirt away. The old familiars would be for when I had company. Because I wouldn’t have minded when the girl smeared her face all over the old raggedy pillow cases. If anything, it would have replaced the stains left by the others who came before. (Ejaculation joke = 0 points.)

 Dog hair all over the bed.

Dog hair all over the bed.

But now, I live in a different kind of bed. A marital bed. I knew from the moment Katie and I began sharing a bed that my days of lying among the crisp, almost sterile bed sheets of my bachelor days were numbered. Her dog, Eddie (he was hers first), slept with us. At first, I refused. But Katie would sneak him into the bed after I fell asleep and tossed him out before I woke. That black op didn’t last because I soon fell in love with Eddie and quickly couldn’t bear the thought of going to sleep without him in one of our nooks. I took to using a lint roller on the sheets to pick up his hair as I made the bed each morning.

Katie doesn’t wear much makeup. I don’t have to worry about her staining the pillow cases. And that is, in all of God’s pure honesty, one of the things that attracts me to her. However, I come face to face with a biosphere made entirely of her rogue hair ties each time I strip the bed for a washing.

I don’t do much ironing anymore because we don’t use a top sheet and our duvet has a knit pattern that I would put at risk if I ironed it. I still iron the pillowcases. And that, combined with a fresh out of the dryer, right to the bed fitted sheet under the thick, clean duvet and hypoallergenic down comforter is good enough for me.

Katie is kind enough to let me be the first to slip into the fresh bed and enjoy it all to myself for a few moments before she slides in next to me. She’s a good wife that way. When our dear Eddie was still around, she kept him out of the bed, too, until I had my go at it.

You know how dogs will roll around on a couch or a bed or a rug right after they have a bath? That was me every time I got into my bed made of freshly laundered and pressed linens.

 A young(er) Harry Himmel plotting out his next spit up.

A young(er) Harry Himmel plotting out his next spit up.

These days, we face a new threat: our son Harry. He’s five months old and his second favorite thing to do after yanking my head down by putting a baby death grip in my nostrils is to spit up what appears to be a liter of milk gunk whenever in our bed. If Katie’s feeding him — spit up. If we’re being a little lazy on a Saturday morning playing in bed — spit up. Walking past the bed on our way to a bath — spit up. Although it doesn't make it to the bed, it's one hell of an effort.

It’s hard to maintain my level of commitment to keeping a near perfectly pristine bed since abandoning my bachelordom. I miss it, but at this point, if something terrible happened and I found myself in a dog hair baby spit up Katie hair tie-free bed again, it wouldn’t be as special. That empty bed would be just that, empty.

So, like I take extra care to appreciate the minimal amount of sleep I get, I do the same with the minimal amount of clean bed I get.

Besides, any man worth his sack knows that beds were meant for wrecking. So to speak. (One final lame hetero sex joke = 2 points.)

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