We Guarantee It


Our Daily Correspondent

From a vintage Sealy mattress ad.

“Oh my God,” I said, turning to my husband with tears in my eyes.

“What is it?” he asked, understandably alarmed. The train had stopped at a Connecticut station—Rowayton, maybe—and it smelled like sun-warmed Naugahyde and Metro-North and commuter. “What is it?”

Blinded by tears—and the fact that I’d removed my glasses to dash them away—I pointed to an advertisement on the platform. 

“Look,” I said.

“The town name?” He said cautiously. “The sign?”

“The mattress ad,” I said passionately. “‘They talk about comfort. We guarantee it.’”

He looked concerned.

“How can anyone guarantee comfort in the world?” I burst out. “Why would you want to? With everything going on. Why can’t we feel?”

“Well, I think in the very limited context of a good night’s sleep, it’s okay.”

“And it’s like something out of a heavy-handed short story! I mean, could the symbolism be any more obvious? At a wealthy commuter suburb? It’s like someone read one Cheever story once in high school. My God! I’m blushing to be living it. Are you telling me you wouldn’t roll your eyes if you read that in a manuscript? Give me a break!”

He nodded tentatively.

“And who are these people ‘talking about comfort,’ anyway?” I continued. “I guess maybe that’s coded talk about Christianity? I mean … ” We were pulling away now. “Who’s writing this stuff?” I muttered.

Sadie Stein is contributing editor of The Paris Review, and the Daily’s correspondent.