the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

My First Wife


I’ve written a lot about my marriage to Sophia, and our separation.   But I was married and separated once before — for about fifteen minutes.  Here’s the story:

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I needed to buy a bed.  I didn’t realize that buying a bed was so complicated, with all the Sealys and Sertas and all the different foams and coils.  To make thing worse, the mattress industry makes it impossible to price match.  The Serta "Fenway Park" is only called this at Sears. The exact same mattress at 1-800-Mattress is called the Serta "New Yorker."  The mattress industry is the most consumer-unfriendly industry in the country, one notch below car dealerships.   Mattress stores also take their cue from car dealerships, with aggressive salespeople out to sell you more bed than you really need.

I read about some discount mattress store in the Valley and drove out there to check out the mattresses.   After trying out some beds, some flashy salesman tried to sell me this Serta mattress that was on sale.  It actually felt pretty good — it was comfortable and firm, but not too firm.   I didn’t yet know how difficult it was to price match, so I promised myself that I would "shop around" before I bought anything in the store.  The salesman pressed me hard to buy it NOW.  He offered me 300 dollars off, then 400 dollars off, then as I stared to leave, 500 dollars off if I bought it right NOW.   I’m not very good with salespeople or aggressive people, so I started to get nervous.  I needed to come up with a solution that would keep him off my back, without losing the bed. 

Me:  "I really like the bed, but I don’t want to buy it without my wife trying it first."

Salesman:  "Oh… Of course.  Of course." 

I noticed that he was wearing a wedding ring, so he knew how fickle women were.   Of course, I was not married.  I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, but I guess he either didn’t notice or maybe he thought I was just some guy who didn’t wear one.  I did not have a girlfriend.  I actually knew few women. 

I left the store, feeling pretty satisfied with my little white lie.   I called up my friend in New York, who just bought a new bed.   He told me that this salesman was offering me was a terrific deal.  I went back to the mattress store and told him that I wanted to buy the bed.

Salesman:   "What about your wife?"

Me:   "Oh, she said it was fine.  If I like it, she’ll like it."

Salesman:  "It doesn’t work that way.  She really needs to come try it herself."

Me:  "It’s really OK.  She totally trusts me."

Salesman:   "How long have you been married?"

Me:  "Six months."

Salesman:  "You need to bring her here."

Me:  "It’s really not important that I do that."

Salesman:  "I’m telling you, for the sake of your marriage, you need to bring her here."

This salesperson, who a few minutes ago was aggressively selling me a bed, was now aggressively selling me marital advice.

Me:  "Fine."

I was stuck in my own lie.

I drove for a half hour, back to my apartment.   I knocked on the door of my next door neighbor, Nadine, and asked her if she could be my wife for an hour.  If she did this, I would buy her lunch.  She was an actress (an out of work actress) and thought the idea was funny.  It was like she was going to be in her own sitcom episode.

I went back to the mattress store with Nadine.  We climbed onto the bed together, to try out the Serta mattress that was on sale.  She said it was very comfortable, and a great price.  As we stretched out on the bed, our legs accidentally touched.  I thought about how pretty Nadine was.  She had a good sense of humor.  She was adventurous.  I visualized us, one day, being on this bed together, making love in my apartment.

Nadine:  "You know, I really could use a new bed.  Maybe I’ll buy one, too."

Me:   "You can’t buy a bed here.  We’re supposed to be married."

Nadine:   "What does he give a shit?  We’re paying him money."

Me:   "But I told him we were married.  Why are we buying two beds?  I’ll look like a lying idiot."

Nadine:  "You think he really cares?"

Nadine and I ended up having our first marital spat while lying on this Serta bed in the mattress store.  Eventually, I caved in — as all husband do with their wives.   We ordered two mattresses, one for each of our apartments.

As we ordered the mattresses, the salesman looked at us, confused.

Salesman:  "You mean you live in two different apartments, right next to each other?"

Me:  "We’re separated."

A few weeks later, I could hear Nadine next door having sex with her new boyfriend on her new Serta mattress.


  1. The Moviequill

    (smiles widely over sip of coffee)… you know what? I have a Sears picture frame with that chick in it… the in-laws think I have a cute sister

  2. sunshine

    Once again — ROFLMAO! Love the punchline!

  3. Edgy Mama

    Hilarious! That was a short marriage, luckily, easy to annul.

  4. Jack

    Very funny.

  5. Leese

    He probably just didn’t want to be the salesman that sold the abstinence bed.

  6. sac

    Good story.

  7. Tatyana

    A view from the other side of the mattress sales counter.

    [I can’t believe I just pimped the guy. never again!]

  8. Josia

    A riot!!!!!

  9. psychotoddler

    My first wife was Isabel Cortez. I know because it said so on my Marriage Certificate which came in the mail. Really ticked off the woman I was living with who thought she was my wife.

  10. M.A.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or tear up at that story. I confess: I laughed. Thanks for making my day, Neil.

  11. Aurorealis

    DOH! I wasn’t expecting that ending.

  12. Brooke

    I just realized how much I need a new mattress. What are you doing this weekend Neil?

  13. cruisin-mom

    I used to hear my gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that) next door neighbor, right through my bedroom wall…his name was, (get this) Mr. Bushyhead

  14. Modigli

    What a funny story, Neil! Too bad the first wife ran off with her own bed before she ever made it into yours!

    But I say use the bed you bought back in those days to keep Sophia around! (Do you still have that bed?)

    I don’t even know you, but still, I don’t want you two to break up! 🙂

  15. alley rat

    Whatever happened to just cruising the alleys for discarded mattresses? Does nobody do this anymore?

  16. Jo-Anne

    So entertaining!

  17. Pauly D

    She wanted to be my wife, too, but I turned her down.

  18. :: jozjozjoz ::

    That’s a great story, Neil!!!

  19. introspectre

    Oh that is soooo funny! Did you mention something to her in the hall about how happy you were she had broken in her new bed?

  20. amanda

    oh man, i laughed out loud at my desk…i just bought a new bed, too, no fake husband necessary, fortunately or unfortunately.

  21. nanette

    Hee, hee. Very funny. 🙂

  22. susan

    cute. really cute.

  23. Painterbeachgirl

    Oh, I am perusing your blog today because I needed to laugh and yes, I am!!!

  24. Scarlet

    Haha, What a great story.

  25. Ozzie

    Barbarians don’t need a mattress, just a place on the floor and a rock for a pillow.


  26. deannie

    Oh Neil, as I slowly pick out your favorite posts and read, I find that I am so happy to have found you! What a story! Loved it, will be chuckling the rest of the day thinking of this. Thanks, I needed the smile.


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