The guest beds at my Dad's house are actually fairly comfortable. My only complaints about them are that the twin-sized models in Guest Bedroom No. 2 (which also serves as his home office) often need to have a layer of papers, books, and clerical supplies swept off them before they can be slept on. We jokingly refer to this as "clearing the desk off." Depending on how long Mr. and Mrs. Dad have gone without overnight company, there may also be piles of books, folders, binders, 12-packs of soda, etc. stacked precariously all over the room, so that one must pick one's way through them with ludicrous care.
Other than that, their guest beds are old friends. I believe I slept on one of them all the way through high school. I am fairly used to the way each of them "speaks," in its own creaky, jingly accent, every time I turn over or shift my weight on the mattress. I only hope the noise doesn't disturb other people trying to sleep nearby.
My Mom, on the other hand, has the guest bed from hell. First off, it's a fold-out couch, which guarantees that, regardless of the mattress, you will feel the steel bar across the frame, cutting off the circulation to your lower legs. Second, it is absurdly narrow; two of them side-by-side would make up a twin bed. You have to lie on your side with your knees drawn up to fit on it. Third, she has crowded her guest room with so much furniture that there is barely enough room to unfold the thing. And finally, it is surrounded on nearly all sides by fussy little curios that you are supposed to try not to knock over while tossing and turning through the night. My mother shook her head in disbelief when I told her she had to pull down an unsecured piece of curly-kew ironwork with squat candles balanced all over it, which stood on a glass-topped table literally inches from this bed. I surely did not want to awaken at 4 a.m. sandwiched between two layers of unforgiving iron, dusted wtih broken glass, and bruised by a hailstorm of softball-sized candles.
In short, the old lady needs new hardware. I have visited many states and a few countries. I have slept in all kinds of accomodations, including ones whose memory raises my blood pressure. But Mom's fold-out just about takes the cake. Then there's her living room, which still contains the sofa her late husband sat on with his guitar across his lap, pretty much non-stop from 1987 to 2004. The shape of his ass is permanently embedded in its cushions. It is as hard, lumpy, awkward a piece of furniture as you could ask for, as if its cushions are filled not with horsehair but with horse bones.
So yesterday, as I browsed around World Market, I spotted a papasan chair surrounded by a variety of cushions. What do you think? Would this be an adequate bribe to get my mother to throw out that old horse-bone couch? Or should I opt for one of those nice Parker sleeper sofas? I mean the reclining ones with the seat cushions that fold straight out to form the foot of the bed. I saw these and other intriguing possibilities for situating Mom's "guest discommodations" somewhat north of the Circle of Hell they currently orbit. I wonder how she would react...