Monday, August 26, 2013

`Stuffed with Skulls'

We squandered an hour of our lives Sunday afternoon testing and buying a king-size bed, an appliance larger than Huck Finn’s raft. The salesman, Steve, whose fellow salesman and manager are also named Steve, lavished on the purchase of a bed the solemnity others might associate with the purchase of a coffin.  (At my age, any significant purchase is accompanied by the thought: “Well, this may be the last one of these I ever buy.”)  “This is not a decision you take lightly,” Steve said. “Think of how much of your life you will actually spend in this bed.” The convergence of a bed and thoughts of the Big Sleep sparked memories of a passage in Evelyn Waugh’s first and best travel book, Labels: A Mediterranean Journal, published in 1930. Waugh spends his first night in Paris in the Crillon, which is comfortable but too expensive. Next day, he moves to a cheaper place: 

“My next hotel was remarkably less comfortable. It was exactly facing into the Metro, where it runs very noisily above ground, and the bed was, I think, stuffed with skulls.”

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