This column ran first in The Cambrian on July 13, 2006
BEST OF SLICE OF LIFE: This column ran first in The Cambrian on July 13, 2006.
I dreamt I was being smothered. Then the phone rang, and I woke up. Ianswered, and finally heard the calm voice of reason.
I listened, took a deep breath and then I responded.
"Yes, ma'am. Thank you so much for calling. I know I need your help. I admitthere's no hope for me unless I can be strong enough to stop this madness. Ithink I'm ready."
I paused for a minute to compose myself. In a quavering voice, I said, "Yes,I admit it. I am ... a pillow person.
"My family has known for years. I've tried to hide it. But look around,ma'am. We've gone so far beyond being collectors of all kinds of things.Look! We've got 24 dragons, 11 giraffes and 9 frogs, and that's only thebeginning. This place is a sculptural zoo! We can't seem to stop ourselves.
"But it's so much worse with pillows. We're being overrun with puffy padswrapped with cutesy covers. Elephants. Slogans. Lighthouses. Whales. EvenSiamese dancing girls! It's insane."
"No, no, ours is not one of those over-the-top Laura Ashley-type houses.Would you believe, we wanted it to be sleek and modern!
"I guess it all started with that wretched Martha Stewart decorating book. Iabsolutely can't stand her ... but, y'know, she really did have a couple ofnice pillows there.
"Then at an art fair, I saw bright silk pillows hand-painted with whimsicalcartoon creatures. They were wonderful. Yes, the frog was really silly. Thatwas how they hooked me, ma'am. They used humor.
"The pillows made me smile and giggle, so I couldn't resist. (Sob). I boughtthem, brought them home, and they fit right in, they really did. They werelike members of the family.
"Alas, the relationship was too good to last. They faded so fast. And mywonderful pillows were gone, reduced by the sun to shreds of color and thosesad little puffs of white stuffing.
"Yes, of course, ma'am. I gave them a nice ceremony when I buried them.They're over there, under the tufted monument.
"But then, everywhere I looked, I saw pillows, pillows, more pillows! Theywere in catalogs, on TV, at my friends' houses, in movies, in stores. Evenat the urologist's office!
"I couldn't escape; I was surrounded. It was a conspiracy.
"There were bright-colored squishy pillows, sophisticated suede ones,snuggly chenille pillows, sexy silks, rugged denims, lightheartedseersucker. You understand, don't you?
(Sigh.) "I bought them and didn't even realize until recently how out ofcontrol I'd gotten. Ma'am, our three-bedroom house has 67 pillows in it, andthat doesn't count the ones that came with the couches or the pillows I'vehidden away in storage!
"I'm so glad you understand. Yes, I know now that's how this obsessionprogresses. I've learned the hard way.
"Some family members visited us for a week recently, and our house was ariot of color and design. But with all those pillows, our guests couldn'tfind a place to sit! They had to move most of the pillows onto the floor,and the stack was so high, they couldn't even see the TV!
"And sleep? One guest bed had 11 pillows on it, and the bed wasn't even kingsized! She asked if she was supposed to sleep on it or just look at it.
"I was so ashamed, I cried my little heart out into the pillow that says 'Ithought I worked my butt off, but it followed me home.'
"So yes, ma'am, I'm ready to take the pledge. My right hand is over my heartand my left hand is clutching my credit cards. I'll repeat after you.
"I solemnly swear ... not to buy any more pillows ... or recover any that Ihave ... or put more than one extra pillow on any seating or sleepingsurface."
"Only one?!? How will I manage? (Pause and take three deep breaths.) "Thankyou, ma'am. I needed that. I'll continue with the pledge.
"I won't look at pillows, covet pillows or cop a feel of a pillow ... And Iwill sell, give away or discard all extra pillows.>
"I'll what?!? Can't I even pack them away, so I can switch designs when theseasons change?
"You mean I'll only have half a dozen pillows in my house ... forever? Thesame six stinkin' pillows? Why, that's awful. That's a minimalistconspiracy. That's decorating treason!
"Isn't there a Nicorette-style patch for people who are passionate aboutpillows?
"No, I'm sorry, ma'am. I can't do this! Now I know how Linus feels about hisblanket. Where's my pillow --- the little blue one with the dragon on it? Ineed my pillow. I want to go back to sleep."