Loud sheets stymie sleep

Elise T. Chisolm

November 10, 1992|By Elise T. Chisolm

I am standing in the linen department of a large department store. There's a sale in progress. I am lovingly fingering the printed sheets with bright tulips. I move along to the Ralph Lauren designer sheets -- oooh, these are striking. Then I -- over to Calvin Klein and hug the gorgeous pillow cases. Ah, to be able to spend a night on any of these great designs.

I love colorful sheets -- probably because he hates them so much. Besides, they didn't have printed sheets with all the neat colors when I was growing up.

But he has a disease that I call Printed Sheet Shock Syndrome. He can't sleep on printed sheets.

And I gave into it long ago. After all, he doesn't mind that I have to have a bedroom window open at night even if it's 32 degrees.

But sheet choices shouldn't come between you in a long-term marriage, right?

Now, shopping, I'm tempted to go back on my word. I wonder if he'd like the sheets with the Dalmatians on them. He loves dogs and we don't have one right now.

I found out he had PSSS years ago when we were visiting friends overnight.

Getting ready for bed, he turned back the double-bed bedspread, and said, "Oh, no!"

I saw no snakes, no frogs, no nails and no dirt. I mean these were nice friends.

He said, "I can't sleep on these!"

He explained that he could not sleep on sheets that are printed, especially these with huge cabbage roses in dark red. They kept him awake, and he could feel the design coming right through to his skin.

This was a guy who had been in action in the South Pacific, and he couldn't sleep on printed sheets!

think I remember saying something endearing like, "Shut up, or sleep on the floor."

Of course, he'd been used to white bed linens in the Navy, and of course our World War II bridal-gift sheets were white.

He was raised by a mother who ironed sheets, towels and wash clothes, and they were white. So PSSS could be inherited.

A secret: A few years back I picked up a copy of Vogue, and the magazine had polled a few top guns in the decorating business and found out that from designers to movie stars they all preferred to sleep on white. But what do I care if Linda Evans sleeps on white sheets when I long to sleep with dolphin designs or palm trees?

So now I take my own poll. I ask a young man standing next to in a three-piece suit and holding a briefcase if he could sleep on printed sheets.

He says, "I sleep on a black futon," and then he quickly walks away, probably going to find security. "Yuppie!" I yell.

I ask the sales girl, and she tells me it is true most men prefer solid-color or white but that she prefers tigers on her sheets, "which is, I guess, the reason I'm still not married."

But if I go to bed before him and turn off the light, maybe he won't notice.

I bought the beautiful tulip sheets, but a month later he told me, "You know I've been so tired . . . something has kept me awake at night, I don't know what it is."

When I confessed we were sleeping on a bed of tulips, he reminded me of the story of the Princess and the Pea.

Remember? The real princess couldn't sleep because under all the mattresses there was one pea, and she felt it.

"Well, I'm the prince," he claims. "And I will compromise. Let's put an all-white contour sheet under us. Then we can use the tulips for the top sheet."

So the Prince of Sheets is sleeping just fine now, and so is his princess under her bower of tulips.

And I promised in a moment of marital concession to lower the window if the temperature drops below 32 degrees.

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