Thursday, 31 May 2007

Trying to Control Everything

The truth is undeniable.

I once had to make up a bed for guests coming over to stay. I was very busy and trying to get things done quickly. I had one fitted bed sheet and one bed to dress with a fitted bed sheet. There was no other way. One problem: the bed was a queen sized bed, the sheet was full sized. I could say that I did not know this before spending twenty minutes wrestling with the two inanimate opponents, but that would be a denial of truth. In spite of this, I was determined to make that bed sheet do what I needed it to do—to be something that it was not—and to actually fit the bed. I was so convinced that I could control this impossible situation, that I flung myself from one side to the other of the bed, using feet and hands, lifting and bending the mattress with a surprising amount of force, for twenty full minutes.

Did the bed get made in that way? No. Did this prove a disaster? No, of course not. I was left, at the end of it all, gasping and laughing, sprawled over an unmade bed, tangled in a much abused sheet. I honestly don’t remember the outcome of this episode—how the bed got made, if I told the guests of the hilarity that had emerged from arranging a place for them to sleep. I do vividly remember the episode. And any time that I find myself trying to control an impossible situation, I can see the doomed white elastic on the edge of the beige sheet, I can feel myself staring down the folds of the mattress fabric like a cowboy with his fingers dancing around his holster, I can sense that determination, and I await the flying failure, and, of course the laughter.

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