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The earthquake and the waterbed

June 29, 2006

Are you one of those people who used to sleep in a waterbed?


I am. The waterbed I slept in from age 7 to 17 looked just like this one. My brother had one and so did my mom. Mom’s was super sweet – it had two stacks of drawers and puffy leather siderails. It was the antedote to insomnia, at least while I was a kid.

Mom seemed to associate waterbeds with a certain level of class – we could afford more than just a mattress. This was in the early eighties, so I guess we can excuse some of this.

When we moved from Kentucky to Portland in 1987, the waterbeds came with us. I was well aware of all the water -and weight- that went into each of our beds, and I was a little freaked out by the notion of all three of our waterbeds weighing down on the second floor of our cheapy apartment out on Sandy Blvd. On my very first night sleeping in the waterbed, I awoke to shaking and was completely convinced it was an earthquake. We knew that one danger of moving to the west coast was earthquakes, and I thought for sure we’d be fated to having our first night in Portland end up with us buried underneath our crazy waterbeds following a major quake. Of course it wasn’t the case. It was just some shaking caused by the semis thundering down Sandy Blvd. during the night.

What’s your waterbed story?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2006 7:15 pm

    It’s funny that you said that your “Mom seemed to associate waterbeds with a certain level of class.” My associations are pretty much the opposite. For me, waterbeds are a relic of the late 1970s to late 1980s. I associate them with ubiquitous leafy, hanging plants, dim lights, velvet artwork and wafting cigarette smoke mixed with a hint of pot smoke. There’s an animal smell in the air, too. My own experience: Just as you get a good rhythm going, a wave rolls back the wrong way — like a speed bump that comes to you — and interrupts the good thing you’ve got going on. And then there’s the feeling and accompanying sound that makes it feel like you’re sleeping on plastic sheets…

  2. July 11, 2006 12:00 am

    I own a waterbed in my highschool years. I think it was my older stepbrother’s waterbed.
    I recall having up to 9 drunken people on that waterbed some nights. Eventually the heating element died on it but instead of replacing it I just stacked 2-3 layers of bedding on it, which reduced the “kick back” effect Steve referred to.

    The fondest memory was the night that K and I stripped of all the bedding and poured baby oil all over the plastic mattress and got naked. Baby oil does NOT come off plastic easily, but it was, oh, so worth it!

  3. November 10, 2009 9:16 am

    how long the waterbed heater to use? because a friend of mine, she had disposed her waterbed bec there’s something wrong with the heater. She ask me about that but I don’t have any idea.


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