Kirby: When wet-bedding was the fad

We’ll keep living in the past.


— Jethro Tull

We were moving my son’s mattress back home from college and he asked me about water beds.

This was probably because I was wrestling to get the big mattress with no handles around the corner into a bedroom, and said something about it being almost as heavy as a water bed.

“Did you guys really used to have them?” he asked.

“Not me,” I said. “Maybe a couple of people I knew. We thought they were going to be the next big thing, but that kind of didn’t happen. You know, sort of like Grand Funk Railroad.”

He looked puzzled at the early ’70s musical reference.

“Badfinger?” I offered, tossing out another band from that era.

Still blank.

“Three Dog Night?”

He finally nodded.

“I never had one,” I said. “A fraternity brother let me sleep on his one night when he went home for the weekend. It was sort of like floating in a swimming pool.”

“Why didn’t they catch on?” my son asked.

“Maintenance,” I said. “They weighed a ton, and you had to fill them up with a garden hose strung in through an outside window. You couldn’t rearrange a water bed, either. Wherever you filled it, was where it stayed. And if a water bed sprung a leak or busted, you had a big mess.”

“And that’s why they didn’t catch on?” he said.

“Oh, that was part of it,” I told him, “but I think the real reason was they often sat so low on the floor.

“People are used to sitting on the edge of the bed to take off their shoes or put on their socks. You really couldn’t do that easily with a water bed. You were down too low. It wasn’t a good fit.”

“So that’s why you don’t hear much about them anymore? he asked.

“Right,” I said, “just like Three Dog Night.”

TODAY’S JOKE: Frank Allen shares a joke about beds.

It seems a man had long been frightened that something was hiding beneath his bed.

“I’ve got problems,” he told a therapist. “Every time I go to bed, I think there’s somebody under it.”

“Just put yourself in my hands for one year,” said the doctor. “Come talk to me three times a week and we should be able to get rid of those fears.”

“How much do you charge?” the man asked.

“It’s $150 per visit,” said the doctor.

“Let me sleep on that,” the man said.

Six months later, the doctor met the man on the street.

“Why didn’t you come to see me about those fears you were having?” he asked.

“Well,” the fellow said, “$150 a visit, three times a week for a year is $23,400. A bartender cured me for $10. I was so happy to have saved all that money that I went and bought a pickup truck.”

“Is that so?” the doctor said, a bit peeved. “So how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?”

“Simple,” the man said. “He told me to cut the legs off the bed. Ain’t nobody under there now!”

Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or