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  • Writer's pictureDana Webster

Fit For A Queen

Patent for fitted sheets

You'll never guess what I've been thinking about. Fitted sheets. A quick internet search tells me that fitted sheets were patented in 1959 by an African American woman named Bertha Berman and perfected (with elasticized edging) in 1999 by Gisele Jubinville.

We did not have fitted sheets in my house when I was a kid. Instead one employed "hospital corners" to keep the bottom sheet from loosing itself and bunching up all around you in your sleep. Not that I knew anything about that as we had a live-in housekeeper, my beloved Nancy who some day I will tell you about, who made our beds every morning.

However, at summer camp, I mastered the art and skill of hospital corners until one year I got smart and gave up on sheets altogether; I just brought a sleeping bag and a blanket. Even though I now have fitted sheets which, let's face it, are a miracle of modern bedding, I still give the top sheet the hospital corner treatment. This is much to Paul's chagrin as he valiantly offers to help me make the bed to my very exacting standards. Poor thing, I can see the fear in his eyes and yet, he soldiers on. That would be number 685 on my "Why I Love Paul" list.

Fitted sheets have, for me, become emblematic of all those things in our daily lives that used to just work, as they were intended and promised. You bought a Queen-sized mattress and sheets to match and, well, they just fit. A Queen was a Queen. Nowadays, not so much. A Queen could be any size at all. And while I'm at it, what is the difference between a Twin, Double and Full? Anyone?

I am this close to chucking all technology out the window. Not because I am a Luddite (although, I have to say, they were a prescient bunch) but because it doesn't work very well. And when it breaks down, you have go out and buy a new one. Or whine at Paul until he fixes it.

It's not just techy stuff that's glitchy. If I had a dollar for all the times Paul's brought home some product, opened the box, made note of the missing pieces and supplemented from his own stash, followed the (nonsensical) instructions, and found the thing still doesn't work, won't turn on, is lopsided, etc., etc. we'd be gazillionaires.

Paul is our resident MacGyver. Someone has to be. And it sure as shit isn't me. If I was the one responsible for the assembly and good working order of anything, we'd be living in a cabin in the woods with no plumbing or electricity or any of the luxuries that operate through those things. Honestly, we wouldn't even have a chair to sit on unless I'd purchased it as is. Okay, another curiosity: allen keys. What?

If one were inclined to tinker with the mechanics of one's own car, one would be out of luck. I once considered becoming a car mechanic but by then it was too late. All cars now are computerized. There's very little to take a wrench to. Were I the type to have tenacity and go-get-it-iveness, I'd probably have purchased my dream car by now - a 1966 Mustang soft top in candy apple red, please - and learned how to make it go vroom. Alas, as my mother would say, I mustn't want it enough if I haven't yet made it happen.

Back in the day, before everything had a microchip in it, there was ON and OFF and HIGH, MEDIUM and LOW. Do you know we just purchased a kettle that came with its own recipe book and about a dozen boiling options? The microwave generously offers a multitude of reheating/cooking gradations yet I confine myself to POWER - HIGH and AUTO-HEAT for every single thing I put in it. My crock pot has a manual dial with three settings - HIGH, LOW and KEEP WARM. Why would I need any more than that?

And, that's all I've got on this. I can't seem to wind it up with a pithy ending paragraph so I'm just going to bow out ungraciously. Fitting.


1. My piece, Pile On, did not win the Amy Award for Memoir. I've done my internal work grappling with disappointment, not good enough, the world is so unfair!! and have already moved on. Thank you to everyone who read it, voted for it, and took the time to let me know how it impacted you. That's more than I could have wished for and all the validation I need

Interested in my original prose?

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