Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Why do you own so many pillows?

Photo by GardenKings.
This is the Monarch of the Pillows. Unlike most animal monarchs, this is not the biggest or strongest, yet it must be the ruler because it always rests on the top of the arrangement. It is unique in that it is circular and possesses gold frills, and too small to be of any utility in sleeping. Lenin would smile to know that the Monarch of the Pillows is the first cast to the floor every night.

The twins it rests upon must be the arch-dukes or some form of Pillow Priesthood. They are a stark color against the Monarch, standing out like wings behind his back. They take flight second and third to the floor every night, unless one of us tosses or turns in our sleep, in which case we may pretend one is useful between our knees for a while. That delusion is always brought to end by the Priest-pillow being punted back to the carpet.

One would expect them to descend into a pyramid of pillows. Instead, the Priesthood rests against two larger pillows, of size to jut out and remain apparent despite being three rows back on the bed-top. These are some level of elite Laboring pillows, stuffed enough and of mass to support the head. Why they have not cast off their ruling classes and taken up sole occupancy of the bed is beyond me. I sleep with one; my wife with the other. We need no additional cushioning for most of the year.

And yet there is a fourth layer, a wall of Gargantuan pillows the size of my torso, stacked like soldiers behind the Laborer-class of pillows. These are clearly too large to serve for sleep; a shoulder jars, and the neck is never at a comfortable angle. Sometimes one is of use to cuddle during a depressing or romantic film, but only until my wife returns. They are as ornamental as the Monarch, yet considerably more pathetic, adding such volume to the pillow display while adding almost no actual aesthetic. Oftentimes other ornamental pillows are placed on top of them, adding a second tier to the ranks. It is my belief that the laborer pillows pity the Gargantuans, and shelter and hide them, knowing they have no right place in the world and yet trying to afford them continuation. These I drop on the floor last, out of shared sympathy for something so large and so useless.

I do not understand why there must be so many pillows on the bed. I have wondered, but I have never been so foolish as to ask.


  1. Thank you. I admire your masterly exposition of something I have dismissed as conspicuous overconsumption without thinking it through. I should have - and am glad you did.

  2. I loved this piece. Maybe because I have many pillows.

  3. Never thought of pillows as royalty. Why do some people have all those pillows if they don't use them at night?

  4. This sounds like something out of a Don DeLilo novel. It sounds like the narrator has been reading too much political science. This, of course, is a good thing.

  5. There they sit through the day, in regal silence... until the kids pile in for a pillow fight!

  6. Am I the only one to notice the image you found does not have a round monarch pillow like you talk about? That kind of bugs me. ;)

    1. Wikimedia Commons actually had a good set with a circular Monarch, and I deliberately picked this instead just to see who it would bother. This sort of thing bothers me too, and I had to experiment to see if I was alone. Thank you, Patricia!

  7. There is a scene in the romantic comedy "Along Came Polly" where the Polly character takes a large kitchen knife to the main character's pillow display, thereby freeing him of the maddening class wars. I found myself wanting to give this character a large kitchen knife.

  8. I say John is this what one calls pillow talk? ^_^


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