How I Almost Chipped A Tooth On An Inflatable Bed

April 20, 2009 · 1 comment

The copy said, “The incredibly comfortable Inflatable Memory Foam Raised Queen Airbed Mattress by Intex quickly and easily inflates with a convenient wired remote control. Remote can also gradually release air if the mattress is too firm. Inflates in about three minutes. Deflates for travel and storage.”

There isn’t an untrue word in that entire piece.


It did inflate quickly. It was as comfortable (amazingly so, actually) as promised. And the remote did function to gradually release enough air to adjust the firmness. With time, you could go from the uber-firmness setting of “Why am I not just sleeping on the floor?” to the squishy bounce of “If he abruptly rolls over once more and slingshots me from a dead sleep to within inches of the ceiling again, I’m going to change my name to Giselle and join Cirque de Soleil.” The tricky bit came when Rick and our delightful company left for the airport. I thought, “I’ll just tidy up quickly and put the bed away.”

The remote did as advertised. It gradually released enough air to adjust the firmness of the mattress. And no more. In my opinion, we had barely begun to creep into the “Trampoline Giselle” Zone of Support when the gentle breath of air that was shushing out of the bed stopped.


Problem #1: I could hear the motor humming along, but breeze had died down and could not be resurrected, no matter how many times I revved the engine. And I still had a queen-sized bed that needed to fit into a storage bag the size of a single-occupant kitty carrier. I couldn’t find the instructions and figured they had been thrown out with the box. Oh well. I’m smarter than an air mattress.

Near the remote control connection in the side edge, I noticed two big black valve covers, one for each chamber. With resignation and a silent promise to God that I would read the ad copy more carefully for future online purchases, I flipped open the opened the top covers so I could start the process of manual air release.

Problem #2: There didn’t appear to be any internal hole plugger-upper doomahickey. All there was, in both deep narrow valve orifices, was a thick filament of plastic, as though the manufacturers had left a rubber thread hanging. I poked my finger around in one and was startled to be rewarded with a loud blap of air. Unfortunately, as soon as I moved my finger a micron, it stopped. After a minute (really) of gentle probing and intense concentration, I figured out how a light pressure applied directly to the top of the wisp of rubbery plastic would open the flood gates of air.

Thus, the plan: if I sprawled on top of the mattress and held my two hands above my head and reached around down to the valves–and if I could maintain the finicky angle of attack that was necessary to keep the valves open–I would eventually best the beast. And I remembered no one said it would be easy. Or quick. Or painless.

Problem #3: Hours passed. (Okay, the whole experience was 47 minutes from beginning to end, but trust me. It felt like hours.) As the mattress s-l-o-w-l-y deflated, my fingers kept shifting and the air would stop flowing. Eventually though, with my fingers frozen in place and the feeling leaving my arms, I did feel my belly gently touch down on the floor. However, I was just one woman in the middle of an only partially deflated 20-inch high queen-sized bed. While my body was now resting solidly on terra ferma, there was still a solid wall of inflated blue vinyl towering above me on either side of my prone self. (Think of a hot dog nestled in the bottom of an over-sized bun.) The only way I was going to force out more air was to roll around. But you see the issue here, don’t you?


Problem #4: I couldn’t roll around and keep my fingers in place. That’s when it occurred to me: if I doubled the mattress on top of itself, I could make a run for it, flop on top like an Olympian high-jumper, and reach WAY around to the bottom layer where the valves lived. A concerted application of gravity-induced pressure, some fine finger dexterity, time, a little luck, and, voila! I’d be off to other campaigns. Fortune favors the bold, so I implemented.

All I can say is that for once I was glad I have long arms and determined toes: I was now perched without a net on top of three feet of bouncing, slippery vinyl, like a circus bear on a balance ball. Except bears apparently have a better sense of balance than I do. Despite my best efforts to keep my fingers in place, my toes dug into the carpet behind me for balance, and my focus riveted on staying still, I started to roll forward.

It must have been a combination of the plastic fumes I was inhaling with my head upside down over top of the releasing air, and my determination not to lose purchase on a proven finger angle. No matter the reason, by this time I was in a zen-like stupor. I’m just glad I only bashed my head into the wall. If I’d been let loose on a longer trajectory before making contact, I have no doubt I would have hit the floor with such enthusiasm I could have chipped a tooth. Thank God for small mercies.

A quick shower rinsed away the sweat of battle and the bump is already receding, so it’s all good. The mattress is still taking up one third the bedroom, but it will just have to wait now until the cavalry comes home. (I’ve got the video camera batteries charging as we speak.)


P. S. Ironically, Rick created the 4-panel cartoon a week before our company arrived. I thought you might enjoy both stories.

P. P. S. The cavalry just came home, listened to my story, walked up to the valves, and unscrewed the covers, leaving a huge hole behind. The mattress deflated the rest of the way while we stood there and watched. He then walked over to the storage bag, reached in to the bag, and removed the instructions for use. The valve I was messing with is for inflating the bed with a conventional foot or manually operated air pump.

I don’t know whether to kiss the cavalry or pinch him for being so smart and/or hiding the instructions in the bag. And if you see me running with scissors, stop me.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Betty Crockett June 9, 2009 at 9:55 pm

I love this story! Isn`t it funny how the simplest things can be so difficult!


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