Op/Ed

Jessie Raymond: Bedding upends no-spend summer

Here’s some news: I bought linen sheets.
For me, this is huge.
I’m not much of a consumer, even in the best of times. And during a pandemic, spending money on a whim strikes me as downright reckless.
I haven’t even added a single item to my wardrobe this year, other than a pair of dress shoes for work. (OK, they’re flip-flops, but I do wear them for all of my Zoom meetings.)
And, yes, back in May, I bought a couple of no-kink garden hoses. Those were a splurge, but they were medically necessary: I needed them so I wouldn’t suffer a rage-induced cardiac event while wrestling with my old, heavy, stiff hoses, which spent most of their time seeking out tender seedlings to crush. 
My heightened aversion to spending is a result of the uncertainty gripping our country right now. There was a time when I would have shrugged and thought, “I’m young; nothing bad can happen to me.” I was a grasshopper who rolled my eyes at all the old, boring ants as they scurried around, readying for difficult times ahead.
I got lucky in my grasshopper days. But guess what: I’m an old, boring ant now (veering, on occasion, into Chicken Little territory). And while I don’t know what “difficult times” might look like, I at least want to be ready if they come around.
Preparedness includes buying as little as possible, socking away money and growing as much food as I can. (To date, I have harvested three zucchini and a carrot, so it looks like the freezer will be full this winter.)
Preparedness, however, does not include buying linen sheets.
Obviously, everybody needs sheets. You don’t see people looking sideways at the neighbors and saying, “I don’t know how that family does it. They went to Tahiti. They bought that huge speedboat. And from what I hear, they own sheets. Must be nice.”
But I’ve always bought the cheapest sheets I can find. They’re sheets; who cares?
Our current set of cotton summer sheets, however, had grown faded and dingy, and the elastic on the fitted sheet had stopped showing up for work months ago. 
I had heard about linen sheets; they’re one of the most-advertised products on the podcasts I listen to, after home-delivery meal kits. I dismissed meal kits when I learned they cost “only” $10 per plate. Ha. For $20 a meal, I can measure out my own rice, thanks.
Similarly, linen sheets sounded like an extravagance, something bought by the kind of fancy people who own different glasses for red and white wines. A little too “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” for me.
However, in the summer heat, crisp, cool linen sheets sounded tempting. Here we were, sitting at home, living like monks out of fear of some vague potential future health or economic emergency.
I spend a solid third of my life in bed. Shouldn’t I be comfortable?
I thought so, until I went to the linen bedding website. Yikes. Let’s just say Belgian linen sheets sit at a different price point than discount cotton. That was money that could come in handy this January for necessities, whatever those might be. A generator? The mortgage? A Hulu subscription?
But I couldn’t stop thinking about the sheets, price be damned. Trembling, I clicked “Place Order,” and the sheets arrived a few days later.
We all know money doesn’t buy happiness. So I’d like to say that the sheets, while crisp and cool, as advertised, and more tactilely delicious than I could have imagined, gave me only a moment of joy. I’d like to say, after seeing my bank statement, that I regretted my lapse of self-control.
But I can’t lie.
Those sheets are one of the best purchases I’ve ever made — and remember: I bought no-kink garden hoses. 
That doesn’t mean I’m going to get all spendy, though. Frugality gives me what buying nonessential stuff doesn’t: a perceived sense of control over whatever may lie ahead.
But I do have one more big-ticket purchase in mind.
Regardless of what happens in the coming months, I don’t see my anxiety easing any time soon. So this winter, if I’m going to be lying awake at night worrying, I plan to do it in the finest flannel sheets money can buy.

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