Beds have really been having a hard time lately. Last week, rumours swirled that cardboard beds were being used to discourage Olympian from having sex. Now, people on Twitter are going after metal bed frames, which also apparently have the same effect of discouraging intercourse. That's news to me!
Over the weekend, writer Lyz Lenz tweeted: "if you are a single cis man over 35 what does your bed look like and why is it just a full mattress sitting on a metal bedframe with one maroon bottom sheet?" sparking quite a bit of conversation in the process. This isn't the first time there's been toxic discourse surrounding how men sleep: Over the years, I've seen a lot of tweets, memes, and TikToks about all the single straight cis men out there who have just a mattress on their bedroom floors, apparently rendering them utterly unadult and therefore unfuckable. While this topic has been commented on so regularly at this point that it hardly deserves any attention, this updated take feels like it's gone too far. I ask you: What is so wrong with metal bed frames?!
Insulting men who use metal bed frames for their beds implies that if they don't care enough about appearing put-together to invest money in a bed frame that isn't purely utilitarian, then they aren't actually a responsible adult worthy of any attention. There's an inherently dated quality to this take, since it's directed at cis men, and thus assumes that being put-together or caring about aesthetics and hominess is a feminine quality. Odd, since I slept on a metal bed frame from June 2015 to November 2020, and it was a glorious period of my life. Allow me to tell you all about it.
The metal bed frame in question was one I inherited from the random person from whom I sublet a $900-a-month room when I first moved to Brooklyn. At the time, I had not one but two unpaid internships and was living off money I'd saved from working at a sandwich shop in college, as well as some freelancing gigs. The bedframe was convenient — unlike the apartment; and reliable — unlike the freelancing gigs. It also — and this isn't to brag, but is important — never impacted my ability to get it.
During that period of my life, many a single cis man saw my bedroom and I saw the bedrooms of many a single cis man — including some over 35, most of whom had non-metal bedframes. Also of note, I did date a bisexual cis man who didn't even have a bed. He slept on a futon mattress with no sheets on the floor, which he rolled away during the day to free up space. Not only did this not make me automatically judge how all bisexual men slept, but also it never occurred to me that this sleeping situation was at all undesirable. After all, New Yorkers have to do what they have to do for living space and also he was open, interesting, really nice to me, and extremely hot. Plus, the futon mattress did its job so what did I care?
As time went on, I did eventually land a somewhat stable, paying job and moved into a more centrally located and therefore more expensive apartment with friends. But the metal bed frame remained a constant for me. And why shouldn't it? It continued to serve its purpose, which was to hold up my mattress. I didn't need it to do literally anything else. In 2017, I moved in with my partner — who is also a responsible adult — and we shared the metal bed frame until last fall, when we replaced it not because we thought we needed to "grow up," but because my partner's father, who is a talented woodworker, made a beautiful cherry bed frame for us. Interestingly, this bed is now far and away the nicest thing in our apartment, but swapping it in for that metal frame has had no effect on how thoughtful or mature we are as people.
After we got the luxurious new bed, I listed the trusty metal frame on Craigslist for free, and yes, a single man who I believe was over the age of 35 did end up being the one to message me about it first. When he showed up at our apartment to pick it up, we made small talk about his work as a music teacher for kids and I didn't think Oh no, yet another immature male doomed to a fate of loneliness because he doesn't care enough to actually purchase a non-metal bed. Instead, I thought about how nice it was that this free bed that had supported me for years could now continue to serve a seemingly pleasant person who had just moved to New York in the middle of a pandemic and needed a break. Were the sheets he ultimately used on it maroon? I don't know, and I don't care. And I don't know why anyone would.
Included in the many responses to the original tweet, I've not only seen people praising this call for single cis men over 35 to invest in a non-metal frame and some white sheets, I've also noticed additions to the list of unacceptable things that so many of these men apparently have in their homes. One person called out "The card table in the centre of the room for all dining needs," and I wondered what kind of palace this person must inhabit that they are able to have a table set up at all times. Another wrote: "And yes, the maroon fitted sheet and a quilt/blanket their grandma made for them when they were 10," and I gasped and said aloud with indignation, "Have you no sentimentality?" Is everyone really supposed to have multiple sets of sheets, towels for guests, and duvets that get washed regularly? In my opinion, that seems a lot to ask.
I was not alone in scoffing at this cozy, aspirational checklist assembled by earnest Twitter users. I also saw plenty of retorts from single cis men over 35 who were utterly offended that anyone would deign to call them out for having a metal bed frame. Unfortunately, this led me to think: Gross, am I no better than them? The key though is not to get angry about a sweeping proclamation like this, and all its potentially sexist and classist implications. Rather, it's to realize how silly it — and nearly every other viral Twitter take — is. Because the real sign of being an adult is actually not giving a shit what people think about your bed, sheets, or home.
Possessing items that are most widely recognized as creature comforts doesn't really say anything about maturity or thoughtfulness, because coziness simply doesn't look the same to everyone. For instants, I prefer worn-in, almost threadbare towels, because new, fluffy towels don't absorb anything and I despise the way they feel on my skin. So I exclusively use 15-year-old towels I stole from my parents' house before they went to the rag pile. I don't know anything about thread count when it comes to sheets, because I actually adore jersey cotton sheets that feel like a soft, old T-shirt. I also sleep under quilts that were handmade by loved ones, and they bring me more comfort than I can even articulate. And yes, I stan a reliable metal bed frame. Maybe it's not the prettiest option out there, but it provides a stable base where, among other things, coziness can, in fact, occur.