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Slices of Life - Pillow talk

December 6, 2013
Jill Pertler - Columnist , Traer Star-Clipper

It's human nature. We want what we don't have. It's a condition that often follows us through life.

To get what we perceive we don't have - or didn't have during childhood - sometimes, as adults, we overcompensate. When she was a girl, my mom had only one doll. As an adult, she collected dolls to the point of near hoarding. Some people fill their china cabinets with china. My mom filled hers with Baby Tender Love, Thumbelina and Swingy.

Other people overcompensate with an overabundance of shoes, cats, comic books, PEZ dispensers, sports memorabilia or anything else one can purchase on eBay. For me, it's all about pillows.

Don't get me wrong. I owned pillows growing up. They were on the bed. You had one if you slept on a twin bed, two if the bed was a double. One pillow per head, if you will. Makes perfect sense, and for most people, this would be enough. During my childhood I thought it was. It was all I knew.

Then I grew up, moved out of the house, got a place of my own and began accumulating pillows like flies accumulate on (well) you know what. It was a gradual and subconscious infatuation at first. I started sleeping with two pillows at night - one under my head, one to hug. Then I discovered the wonder of shams. And throw pillows. And different shaped pillows. I liked the way they looked together, piled on the bed - lavish and abundant.

Historically, pillows have been associated with affluence and luxury. In Mesopotamia around 7,000 BC, pillows symbolized status and were most often made of wood. This gives a whole new meaning to the term firm pillow. Think about the splinters.

These early pillows were a square block with an area carved out in the middle and they weren't about providing a soft place to rest one's noggin. They were created for the practical purpose of keeping the head off the ground to prevent bugs from entering one's ears, mouth and nose. I guess Mesopotamian bugs hadn't mastered the art of flying or crawling, but we'll leave that to the history books.

Pillows were also a rarity in other ancient cultures - Egypt, China, Rome and Greece - and didn't become universally available until around the time of the industrial revolution when they could be massed produced. It's ironic that a time associated with child labor and harsh working conditions increased the popularity of an item so closely linked with comfort and relaxation.

When you give it some thought, you'll appreciate (like I do) that pillows are the perfect mattress companion. They are cool and crisp, soft, yet supportive. Pillowlicious and pillowtastic. If one is good, two are often better. This is the credo I abide by. My kids each have at least three sleeping pillows on their beds with another three appearances-only shams and throw pillows atop those.

That's just the beginning. My own bedroom is where my pillow talents truly amass.

My husband and I have no less than six sleeping pillows with an even dozen assorted pillow shams and decorative throw pillows also on the bed. As for our mattress, it goes without saying that we have a pillow-top. Each display pillow on the bed has its own specific position, which no one in my family except me understands or is able to duplicate. It is my own semi-secret formula of pillow mountain majesty and on some weird level it brings me joy - in an overcompensating, yet satisfied kind of way.

My husband understands little of my pillow issues. He just wants one to sleep on. Trouble is, when you have so many, it's hard to achieve any sort of consistency from night to night. So mostly he just ends up confused, but in a good way, except on the days he wakes up with a stiff neck. But, he is an accomodating man and puts up with me - pillows and all. At least they don't snore, hog the covers or accidentally kick you in the middle of the night, I can't say the same for him - or me.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" You can read more columns at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.



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