Saturday, January 3, 2009

Fitted Sheets

As I was doing the laundry and remaking the bed, I got to thinking. Fitted sheets may be one of the best things since sliced bread, but they are also challenging little buggers.

On the upside, fitted sheets make making the bed infinitely easier than doing so with flat sheets. I can make a hospital corner that would put most to shame, but they don't stay on nearly as well as the fitted ones. And now that they make the extra deep pockets, there is rarely a need to re-tuck them between the regular changes of the bed linens. It's generally quick and easy to make the bed with a nice smooth sheet.

There are, however, some downsides to the fitted sheet. The first being the folding of the thing. I imagine that we were all taught by our mother, or someone, that the way to fold a fitted sheet involves tucking the corners inside one another, tweaking the edges so that it approximates a rectangle and then folding as if it were really a flat sheet. Naturally, those puffy corners don't lay flat and the approximate rectangle never really works like a rectangle, so the procedure is doomed from the start. But we give it the old college try and stuff the malformed mass in a drawer to wrinkle up until we need it.

And, given the sizing phenomenon of mattresses and bedsheets, it isn't always as easy as one might hope to figure out which way is up when making the bed. With a twin bed, it is easy to tell which end of the sheet goes where because it is so obviously a skinny rectangle. But the larger sizes are more square than rectangle, although not quite. If they were truly square, it wouldn't matter which corner of the sheet was put on which corner of the mattress, but they are not. So what should be a simple, straight-forward task actually requires a bit of thought in trying to assess which way is the long way on the sheet and then, when you realize you have assessed incorrectly, rotating it so that it will actually fit on the mattress.

While contemplating this situation, I began to think that people are more like fitted sheets than one might have imagined. When we are oriented correctly for our lives, we have the attributes of the well placed sheet. We fit, things are smooth and comfortable, and there are no wildly wrinkled places.

However, it's in the folding that the trouble begins to appear. When we try to make ourselves approximate some shape that we are not, things get lumpy, out of shape and crammed into dark places. And the wrinkles begin to set in with a vengence so that we cannot function in the way we were meant to. Similarly, if we try to make ourselves fit the wrong way round, we are stretched and pulled all to no avail. We neither function nor look right.

All of which makes me wonder why we try to do contortions like that. Probably because we were expected to for so long that we just come to enforce those expectations on ourselves. Sadly, many times we don't even notice the knots that we have tied ourselves into. I think a better model might be to be like sheets hanging on a clothesline on a warm spring day, blowing in a breeze and gaily waving our colors for all to see.


mehitabel said...

Good analogy! And you didn't even get into what happens when we try to stretch ourselves to be something we're not--like trying to put a full-size sheet on a king-size bed! I finally learned that I would never be as "good" as all the people I was compared to, and started trying to just be the best "me" I can be.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post! I love the way you think!