Ben needs a new bed.
The 'high bed'* that we bought four years ago thinking it would see him through to adulthood is not long enough for his increasingly lanky frame, we think he's almost 6 foot but this cannot be independantly verified because he has that teenage ability to be as unaccomadating as humanly possible, bless him.
So the challenge in the remainder of the school holidays has been to take a reluctant shopper to furniture shops to find something new for him to lay his head on at night.
Buying a bed here is a serious business (if you're surprised by this fact then you're clearly new to this blog). The first shop Ben and I went to we were pounced on by a little old man (it was like being served by a grandpa who was on day release from the local Altenheim), he showed us the appropriate beds and told us what it would cost either with or without the head board, then we talked mattresses and were reliably informed that anything under 400 Euro was 'schrott'** - but then he would say that wouldn't he?
So far, so logical.
But the little grandpa wasn't done. We would also have to buy the slats for the bed ('cos otherwise the mattress doesn't stay in the frame very well) It was at this point Ben and I both went "huh?" I'm used to buying a bed complete with slats, but this being Germany not only are there about a billion types of mattress but there are many, many different types of slats, some that will withstand more bouncing than others, some with specially shaped shoulder slats***, some that are motorised so that you can elevate the head and shoulders or feet...you get the picture? We walked away from the first shop with our heads reeling, and it gave me a masochistic thrill to text Si to inform him that yes, we'd been to check out a furniture shop for beds for no. 1 son and that he wouldn't see much change from a grand.
The bed has now been ordered, although not from the first shop (that'd be far too easy.)
First we got the frame and headboard and slats sorted out. That trip took over an hour, due to the inability for the two males involved (1 who had to choose and 1 who had to pay) being unable to agree on something they both liked and we kind of ran out of time.
Friday we got the mattress sorted out and were served by another Altenheim escapee, a lady called Frau Lichtblau - now what kind of a surname is that? Mrs Lightblue? How can that be a surname? A colour choice for a carpet maybe but as a surname? We were meant to go to one of the many mattress shops that people German towns in the way that charity shops do in England (although clearly mattress shops are a little larger, seeing as you need a fair bit of floor space if you want to have matresses out for people to bounce on) but Ben and I were left to our own devices (seeing as he who must be obeyed (tongue firmly in cheek here) is out of the country) and we both thought that they (mattress shops) all exude a sleaziness, something not helped by the rumours that are spread about money laundering and anyway, I just don't understand why there are so many mattress shops around, it seems weird.
Mrs Lightblue very patiently explained the different mattresses to me and Ben, suggested that I try them as well (yes I might be the one paying, but Ben and I have very different tastes when it comes to a mattress, he declared my choice to be too firm and I thought his was like lying on marshmallows - although not as sticky or sweet) and then tried to convince me that a memory foam topping was ideal...didn't get that at all, why would I want my mattress to retain my shape, isn't that like sleeping on some dodgy old hotel bed where it dips in the middle? Not convinced, although I'm sure there's some clever German logic to it.
Now all we have to do is wait for the phone call to say it's all in stock and then worry about finding a home for the old bed...any takers?
* a single bed on very tall legs that could have a second bunk beneath it or a desk, but actually has just a pile of junk/Simpsons comics beneath.
** schrott translates literally as 'scrap iron' but is used colloquially to mean rubbish or junk.
*** which just seems wrong to me, surely a mattress needs to be on a flat surface so that it doesn't get disformed and result in a shorter life expectancy - maybe that's their cunning plan?