The Virgin Queen

By Donna Chapin

I need sleep, lots of it. Nine hours are good, 10 are better, and 11 is heaven. Toss in the odd nap, and that’s a lot of time to spend in bed. And that bed has to be just right, a hypersensitivity that drove one erstwhile beau to crown me Girlfriend and the Pea. One speck of dirt on the covers, a trace of a funny odor, and it’s a bumpy night for all.

This past spring, every night got bumpy. I was on a dating hiatus, so no one was snoring me into insanity, yet I was still waking up foggy and drained—and very perplexed. My bedding was organic and washed in natural soap, as was everything else in my house. My buttery walls shone with low-VOC paint, all the furniture was natural wood, and no electronics EMF’d me in the night.

Could it be my mattress? My deliciously soft, brand-name pillow-top mattress? My queen was only eight years old. I stripped her bare and took a hard look. There were no lumps or bumps, no spots or sags. And yet, there it was: a sensory imprint, almost tangible, in the shape of lovers past. I’d kissed only two frogs in that bed, but they were long-term lily-pad sitters and they’d left an emotional slime I couldn’t rinse out or wish away.

I pulled out the Visa; the queen had to go. And while eliminating said toxic residues, I decided to go organic.

I did my research, driving miles to a scent-free, organic mattress factory where I rest-tested their selection. Good thing I did, because that natural latex number I’d set my heart on made me tingle and twitch. Tragically, I was allergic to natural latex, not to mention foods containing the same proteins as latex: papayas, figs, and dates (not the dinner-and-movie type). So I settled on an organic wool and cotton innerspring.

My new mattress wasn’t as squishy soft as its commercially produced, chemically enhanced predecessor, but that first night, when I slid into slumber, there were no fire-retardant fumes or ghosts of old flames to haunt me. And the next morning, I awoke to the strangest sensation. My head felt so, so ... clear! And my soul felt pretty good too—clear and clean and fresh. There was a shiny new virgin in the room, and I vowed to keep her frog-free forever.