I know there are many people in the world who can buy new bedsheets with very little hassle and confusion. I am not among them.
The goal was a simple one, to go to Tom & Stefanie, a``homes, apparrels (sic), and accessories'' store to buy a new set of linens. After getting to the mall, I remembered what had been a minor hassle about this last time: I don't remember whether I have a Queen- or a King-size mattress.
Rather than tromp home and measure my mattress and set out again, I asked the first person I could find who was clearly employed by the store. She was a upper-middle-aged Chinese woman counting packs of bedsheets and marking them off on a clipboard. I asked simply, ``I don't remember the size of my mattress. If I buy the wrong size sheets, can I exchange them? If I haven't opened the package?''
She explained, helpfully, that King-sized mattresses were larger than Queen-sized.
``Right, yes, the problem is I don't remember which size my mattress is.''
It's the King-sized that's the larger one.
``OK, yes, but can I exchange it if I buy the wrong size?
They have packages on sale for under twenty dollars, in Queen and King-sized.
The only move in this case is to retreat, so I thanked her and wandered over to another part of the store, looking at throw pillows and trying to find one which would not clash with my sofa. (Nothing will not clash with my sofa.) After a few minutes poking around, the woman put down her clipboard and came over to point out the packages of twenty-dollar bedsheets to me again.
I thanked her, and fled over towards kitchenwares. I also noticed in the adjacent bathing suit section a lycra/nylon full-body swimsuit which felt like it was made of compressed slick and had cleaning instructions too complicated for me to follow. I can't buy bedsheets; I certainly can't wear clothes that require details, and that's putting to the side the best I could possibly look in a form-fitting cyan and black tube of slick.
I finally bought a nice King-sized set of bedsheet, two pillowcases, and bolster case. The cashier assured me I could exchange it if I kept the receipt and didn't open the package.
I got home and took the old sheets off to verify that ... they didn't say how big they were. Nor did the mattress have a tag describing its size. I looked around to see if I might have anything suggesting how big my mattress was; no luck. I even checked to see if there was an off chance I still had the receipt from buying the mattress, or the packaging from an old set of sheets.
Of course, for the record, I don't have a tape measure or ruler to measure the width and deduce which size it is. But by using two pads of paper I was able to make a good estimate -- my bed is a little over 55 or 56 inches wide, and is therefore Queen size.
Trivia: Charlie Brown's locker combination was 3-24-7. Source: Peanuts daily strip for 11 October 1966, reprinted (most recently) in It's Back To School, Charlie Brown, Charles Schulz.
Currently reading: The Gathering Storm, Winston Churchill. (It's 667 pages, plus 96 pages of appendix. I'm working on it.)