Dear Pillow,

When we first met, you were a charmingly grotesque symbol of my boyfriend’s bachelorhood. He’d had you since college, and had never washed you. When I suggested that perhaps 10 years’ worth of cooties and drool remnants from all the girls he’d slept with was not worth holding onto, the suggestion was met with tears and protestations. “It’ll get fucked up!” said your valiant defender.

For a while, I was satisfied that getting him to wash the sheets more often was a victory. After all, he usually stayed over at my house, the land of cootie-free bedding. Surely I could live through sleeping next to you once a week if the sheets were clean.

I realize now I should have fought to get you out of his house while things were fresh and he was still trying to impress me.

Time passed and your valiant defender and I decided to marry. I accepted you into my life and consoled myself with the fact that at least I didn’t have to sleep directly on your crusty, drool-stained, mashed-down self. When I changed the sheets once a week, I held you the way cartoon people hold something that is stinky: with my index fingers and thumbs pinching each corner, and at arm’s length.

Again, I tolerated you. We agreed to disagree about the fact that you were a vile, stained creature fouling up my bed.

But then something happened. I ate lunch with a co-worker who had just seen a special on the local news about dust mites. Sure, I’d heard of them. Microscopic bugs that eat your dead skin, right? They were gross and all, but here’s the fact that sent me over the edge: By the time a pillow is two years old, 20 percent of its weight is made up of dust mites and their droppings.

In other words, Pillow: you were full of shit.

I came home and told my husband to prepare himself for something that had to be done. I explained that replacing all of our pillows—not just you; it’s not always all about you, you know—was necessary due to alarming new evidence. Feeling certain that he, too, would be grossed out by the new information, I was taken aback when he still refused to part with you.

You know things got ugly after that. I can’t believe we allowed you to come between us at all, much less for three days’ worth of arguments. In the end, unfortunately, we settled on just washing you. In extremely hot water. Twice.

Don’t think it’s over between us, Pillow. You know that thread that dangles from your seam and sneaks out of the pillowcase onto the bed? I’m thinking about pulling it.

I mean it,

Tracy Carr
Jackson, Mississippi