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Snap Those Sheets and Make Your Bed Tight!

Updated on September 11, 2014

History of the Mattress

Since the discovery that women are born with the bed-making gene but men are born lacking this vital accessory, (in addition to a number of others which I shall not attempt to enumerate at this point) a need has arisen for someone to provide men with some tips or directions on how to accomplish this daunting task.

I have elected myself to do so. (Gigglers may now leave the room.)

I am well versed in the subject having watched the maid do it for many years and so feel well qualified to enlighten the masculine world with my insights.

First a little history.

History of the Mattress

"Heidegger and Hegel argued back and forth for years over the question of whether the word 'mattress' should be spelled with one or two 't's'"

--Anonymous Source

The mattress, the very 'foundation' of every modern bed was first known to exist in ancient Egyptian culture, where Thutmose and Benny,(circa 1300BC) mattress makers in Thebes, hit upon the idea of stuffing a bag with sand and selling it as a 'cuffar' or in English 'a bag filled with sand'.

This idea was popular for thousands of years, (or so) until Napoleon visited the pyramids and being allergic to sand he asked that the bag be filled with slaves instead. He found this to work but then again they were buxom women slaves in his mattress, which I leave to your imagination...

Moving along to the next development in the mattress, we find that Saxons of early Britain, who were always on the go, developed a portable mattress consisting of the skins of lions, tigers and bears (no, I won't say it...) and this served them well until the lions, tiger and bears started to use the Saxons for THEIR mattresses.

In the early 1700's a farmer in France, who had seven daughters, cut off their long hair and tried to fill a large bag with it, but he discovered he didn't have enough hair, so had to wait until he had seven more daughters to meet his goal. He set about it immediately ( to the chagrin of his wife I might add) but still it took seven more years before he had the first 'hair-mattress' in Europe.

Finally, in about 1804 the Mississippi plantation owner Eli Chickenwing struck upon the idea of filling a mattress with his leftover cotton gleaned from the fields. He had his slaves fill the mattress for him and hence we have now come full-circle from a mattress filled WITH slaves, to a mattress filled BY slaves.

Da Vinci's Illustration of Man Trying to Hold a Bottom Sheet in Place

The Bottom Sheet

The bottom sheet, (in latin the 'solum ovis') is the first sheet which goes on the bed. This sheet is uniquely identified by it's elastic corners. The corners are elastic in order to force the sheet, quite against it's will, to conform to the square shape of the mattress.

To put a baottom ssheet on the mattress, hold the lower-left corner of the sheet to the corresponding corner of the mattress. Now get on the bed and hold this in place while you stretch your lower right foot to the upper-right corner of the mattress, all the while stretching your right hand to the lower-right corner of the mattress holding on to the lower-right corner of the bottom sheet. Got it?

Now the fun part.

Try and get all the corners to adhere to the mattress by stretching them simultaneously over each corner, rembering that there is yet another corner to be confronted (the upper-left) after this is done.

At this point you will be spread-eagled over the bed, with all four of your limbs pointing to different points of the compass. (see illustration by Da Vinci)

You may find, as I do that successfully getting these corners to do what they are told is time-consuming and often takes up to three hours.

Moving along...

The Middle Sheet

This requires extra special attention.

The goal you are aiming for is to get this sheet to fall evenly on the bed after you toss it playfully in the air and hope for the best.

Good luck. It nevear will.

If you are wondering why this is true I have found that the ingredients of which middle sheets are made are responsible for this state of affairs. Middle sheets are made from:

  • rayon

  • nylon

  • silk

  • whipped cream

  • anti-gravity sauce

  • flotsam and jetsam

You can see from this just why they refuse to fall evenly and neatly on the bed.

Case closed.

The Top Blanket

The Top Blanket: Some Cautions

Finally there is the top sheet or rather the heavy blanket that goes on the bed last.

I have indeed saved the hardest for last because the top blanket requires a great deal of information, preparation and indeed some degree of talent.

The top blanket needs to be folded in such a way that it conforms to International Blanket Standards as set out in U.N. treaty #104.43 which states: "All hospital corners must comply with the science of folds and creases and not stray from such parameters under penalty of veto."

What this means is not clear, however, should you fail to make your top blanket perfectly tucked into your 'mattress' (I am here using Hegel's spelling) then you may be in breach of international laws and subject to prosecution by tickling until silly.

Enough said by way of warnings.

How to Fold Hospital Corners

"I found it much easier to write the Principia Mathematica than to learn how to make 'hospital corners' on my bed..."

--attrib. Bertrand Russell

1. Take the northeast corner (A) of the blanket and fold it anti-clockwise in a twisting motion of the wrist such that it bends under your grip towards Mecca. Apply glue, allow three minutes to dry and tuck it under not over the mattress.

2. Take the southwest corner (B) of the blanket and perform the Heimlich manuever squeezing it until it folds in a way to appear fashionable to most observers. Take some photos of your work in case you need them for evidence.

3. Sneak up on the next corner (C) and when it is unsuspecting get it into a half-nelson. Use your teeth if you need to. Don't listen to it's pleas for amnesty. Tuck it under the mattress without hesitation.

4. Finally grab the last corner (the sou-sou-west corner)(D) and play it for a fool. It will accuse you of the sins of your fathers but don't listen. Hold it firmly between your shins and tuck it under the mattress to the strains of Beethoven's 5th--which you will have playing in the background for inspiration.


if you were successful you have beaten all the odds, pulled off a coup, won the brass ring.

Good for you. You have made your bed.

Now go lie in it.


Submit a Comment
  • Woody Marx profile imageAUTHOR

    Woody Marx 

    12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Shubnell: fascinating bit of trivia there! Also it sounds like a great idea to have such a bed adjustment...simple and cheap. thanks!

  • shubnell profile image


    12 years ago

    In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes when you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. That’s where the phrase, “Goodnight, sleep tight,” came from.

  • Woody Marx profile imageAUTHOR

    Woody Marx 

    12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Chef: Or should I call you B.M.I.? ;) Hilarious story about the quarter bouncing around the room like a loopy kangaroo! I have never been able to get a quarter to bounce off my bed. It usally opts for laying down and playing dead. You have obvious expertise in this field for which I commend you and recommend a knighthood at the minimum! ;)

  • Woody Marx profile imageAUTHOR

    Woody Marx 

    12 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Rochelle: Glad you enjoyed it! I think that the current fashion in bed-making is formal wear where possible. It gives the act a sense of decorum. Leonardo unfortunately didn't own a tux so he opted for naked as you observed. ;)

  • Chef Jeff profile image

    Chef Jeff 

    12 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

    Now this is very funny! I enjoyed reading the "slightly abridged history of the Matress (or mattress, according to Hegel)".

    When I was in the service we had to make our bedsheets tight enough so the training instructor (T.I.) could bounce a quarter on it. Mine were so tight I actually bent the metal headboard. I think the bed was a WWII left over and might have been wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, being run over by a tank.

    I remember getting chewed out because the T.I. saw me struggling with another recruit while making a bed that wasn't square (another WWII left over) and he yelled at me because he thought it was my bed. After taking the usual abuse I stood at attention and replied that I was merely helping another airman with his obviously stubborn bed.

    The T.I. kicked the bed and apparently straightened it out, because we finished the bed after we slid it back into its place. The T.I,. then bounced a quarter off my bed, where it flew to the other airman's bed, and then bounced off and rolled down a heating duct.

    We dared not laugh.

    But afterwards I was the Bed Making Instructor of our flight (unit) and was expected to be personally accountable for every bed meeting regulations. It was a tremendous responsibility for which the entire free world depended upon my ability to get it right.

  • Rochelle Frank profile image

    Rochelle Frank 

    12 years ago from California Gold Country

    Very funny and maybe even helpful hub. Is the tux required? Or should one be naked as Leonardo seems to suggest?


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