Wel­come to our Age Is­sue

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - NEWS -

“How can we be talk­ing about sav­ing for re­tire­ment,” I say to my part­ner, “while we’re still liv­ing like stu­dents?”

We are star­ing at our bed, which is bro­ken. Be­fore it was our bed it was my bed. And be­fore it was my bed it was my par­ents’ spare bed­room bed. It’s been swim­ming in sheets too big for it since for­ever be­cause, like a nor­mal sel­f­re­spect­ing cou­ple, we al­ways meant to up­grade to queen-sized.

“When we be­gan shar­ing this bed we had a com­bined weight of 120kgs,” I point out. I needn’t add that this is no longer the case. Plus, now our daugh­ter likes to dive into the mid­dle of it. And I mean lit­er­ally – she climbs onto a nearby chest of draws and does spec­tac­u­lar belly flops. That’s how one of the slats broke.

I pick up the two splin­tered bits of wood and chuck them in the garage. I mean, the bed looks fine on the sur­face, it still works.

There’s ex­cite­ment in start­ing out and buy­ing grown-up items. You score a sec­ond-hand fridge and put wine in it. You get your first dou­ble bed and can have guests!

But re­plac­ing those things holds no thrill at all. It’s no longer about rough sur­vival and in­de­pen­dence. It’s about mak­ing sen­si­ble de­ci­sions with re­gard to veg­etable stor­age and back sup­port. You’re not es­cap­ing your par­ents, you’ve be­come your par­ents. And you look for the best pos­si­ble qual­ity in a pur­chase be­cause you want this item to last un­til... Oh. God.

It’s a Satur­day. My part­ner and my daugh­ter are go­ing to mooch around the mall to­gether and give me some pre­cious hours to my­self. “I know what I’ll do,” I say as I drop them off. My voice is leaden. “I’ll go there.” I point to a big block­buster of a bed shop.

“Is that re­ally what you want to do with this time?” he says. “Look at beds?”

“Maybe,” I say. But then they’re out of the car and I’m ac­cel­er­at­ing away from that row of gar­gan­tuan stores with their dreary prom­ise of in­ter­est-free hire pur­chase. Later in the week I will go to a de­sign shop and drop cash on linen with tiny birds and flow­ers all over it, and a polka-dot­ted throw cush­ion. This is called sugar coat­ing.

I’m 46 and – just let me have this one thing – I still don’t own a grown-up bed.

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