2013.04.10 David still cuts corners when making the bed

Written by David Green.

I’m not normally much of a basketball fan, and as a graduate of Michigan State University, I’m even less of a Wolverine fan, but I figure if a team from the state of Michigan makes it to the NCAA championship game, it’s my duty to watch and cheer them on...even if I haven’t proofread copy because the city council meeting went long and the game ends close to midnight. Yes, it’s also my duty to write a column every other week, but my husband is generous—he said I could repeat an old one. He didn’t specify that it should be one in which I don’t make fun of him, so here’s this from Feb. 16, 2005.


When I was a kid, I spent a couple of weeks at a summer camp. It was a treacherous experience. On the cusp of adolescence, I was lonely and didn’t want to be there. Still, it’s one of those experiences that get lodged in the brain: I can place myself there quite easily, sitting along the lake with a bunch of mean girls inspecting my underarms for the emergence of hair, eating in the loud cafeteria with the lousy food, gathering with the other campers each morning (so early!) for the raising of the flag and then the lowering at dusk, entering the tiny commissary and trying to choose the candy that would last the longest for the least amount of money.

But learning to make a bed with hospital corners: that’s the memory that lingers and gets put into action on a regular basis. I don’t try to bounce quarters off my bed, but I love hospital corners. They look sharp and they keep the sheets tucked in. Tuck the sheet in at the bottom of the bed; step to the right, grab the hanging sheet and pull it to the right, up to the edge of the bed creating a triangle; tuck in the excess, drop the triangle and then tuck the whole sheet in. Repeat on the left side of the bed.

Now, before I say another word, I want you to know how much I love my husband and what a truly good man he is. And I want you to realize that I am cognizant of most of my major faults, such as the relevant one here: that I am a nitpicking, persnickety, fussbudget who likes certain things done certain ways and I can’t abide them being done differently.

Yes, I am talking about bed-making.

I made the mistake of tearing the sheets off the bed tonight and not putting fresh ones on before David went upstairs to go to sleep. My plan had been to wash the sheets and put them back on the bed before he tucked in for the night. I could have quickly remade the bed with regular cotton sheets, but since it’s winter, it has to be flannel. But I have no idea where all our flannel sheets sets have gone, so I am forced to “wash and wear.” 

This plan works as long as I get the whole procedure taken care of before David goes to bed. Left to his own devices when faced with an unmade bed, he would just throw a sleeping bag on the bare mattress and conk out. Or he might just make the bed himself if the bed linens were before him. But the result would be sheets thrown over the mattress untucked and covers tossed in a heap.

Now, I know if I were not alive to enforce proper bedmaking practices, he would survive just dandily on untucked sheets. And it’s certainly not the most important thing in the world. I have perspective here. But I am like the princess and the pea. And he’s shucking a bushel full of peas all over my bed when he throws them on all akimbo.

Making the bed with David is another option, a rather amusing one, since making the bed with David is like going shopping with him. It’s a whole new world every time. He’s a fish out of water and I watch in amazement as he struggles to breath. He grabs the fitted sheet and winds it around and around his hands and arms like a guy making dough at the pizzeria. Eventually, he settles on one corner and hitches it over the mattress at the head of the bed and then quickly walks toward the foot. 

“No, no!” I say from the foot of the other side of the bed. “Wait for me! We have to do it on the diagonal.”

He reaches for the top sheet and I stop him again to put on a second bottom sheet.

“One isn’t enough?” he asks.

“The first is to protect the mattress,” I tell him. “And I don’t want my body too close to the mattress.” It’s made of some kind of shiny fabric, not cotton, and I don’t like the feel of it.

We put on the top sheet and I can tell he thinks we’re done, because he’s reaching for the feather comforter.

“Wait, we have to tuck it in!” I stop him again. “OK, reach for the middle and tuck,” I say.

He makes a lame attempt at putting some of the sheet under the foot of the mattress.

He is becoming exasperated. I am too.

“You have to hospital corner it!” I yell.

Perhaps the response he yells back explains everything.

“I was only in a hospital once and I didn’t watch!”

Maybe it’s time for this princess to make peace.

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