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The Fifth Otseabed 

Wednesday, Dec 22 1999
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By 1991, Erik Otsea had created four Otseabeds, mostly to help people sleep. That autumn, I was sharing a non-Otseabed in Venice with a woman I considered to be my girlfriend, partly in deference to our sleeping arrangement. I‘d spent one October afternoon out of bed, comparing roundtrip travel fares from L.A. to Concord, Massachusetts, where we’d been planning to spend Thanksgiving. She (not her real name) came home early from work, and we sat at the dark wooden dining table to discuss our options over gin-and-tonics.

I said, “United seems to have the lowest roundtrip fares to Logan, but they‘re not refundable.”

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She said, “I’ve decided that I don‘t want you to come with me because I don’t think this is working out.”

My head began to spin, but it didn‘t get far, because my neck was stiff. From the preceding night’s lovemaking. In the midst of which she had repeated, several times, passionately, the phrase “I don‘t want you to come with me because I don’t think this is working out” meticulously encoded in such a way that it sounded to me as if she were saying, several times, passionately, the phrase “I love you.”

So I built an Otseabed. Soon I‘d have no bed of my own, and a melodramatic woodworking project seemed like just the thing to supplement my lugubrious packing, drinking, starving, moping and crying. I’d seen one of the fine, simple, sturdy beds that my friend Erik Otsea had made out of cheap fir studs and pine boards. On my next trip downtown to drink Chateauneuf-du-Pape at Erik‘s loft, I took the measurements of the queen-size he shared (though not while I was measuring) with his girlfriend, Cathy, and made a cut list.

At home that night making drawings. Decided to raise the platform 8 inches -- extra storage space, better height for certain kinds of sex -- but to otherwise emulate the original. Stopped crying. Next morning, hauled a half-shitload of lumber; borrowed a 7-inch circular saw that night. Stacked the wood neatly in our studio out back. Spent a good two weeks in goggles and slow motion, carefully slicing planks in the backyard driveway in a twilight barely illuminated by a ghastly fluorescent garage.

The idea was to have the supports finished and everything else cut and marked such that when I moved into whatever I was going to move into, I’d be able to put the thing together with one good charge of the cordless drill. I marked the platform‘s corner pieces with words in cartoon speech-balloons to correspond to the same images I’d drawn on the four main supports: Chicken, Wine, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Fine. The corners didn‘t really need marking -- symmetrical platform, the two longer posts at the head, two shorter at the foot -- but in my state of mind, I figured a bit of organizational overkill couldn’t hurt. Before my girlfriend -- roommate, whatever -- had given me notice, I‘d been eating quite a bit of chicken; after, I’d taken to drinking my weight in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, so the decision to decoratededicate the bed corners with those elements -- and even with generic Wine -- seemed reasonable enough. Fine was the last corner to be named. I recall taking a breather, studying the stacked boxes in the garage, digging around, opening the one filled with ancient cans of NovaColor paint just to smell something familiar. And I must have decided, well, okay . . . fine!

Then I restacked the boxes and the freshly cut wood, swept up the sawdust and locked the garage. Took a hot shower and crawled into a cold, quiet bed with Death in Venice and not her real name. Got up at 4 a.m. Fast, fast heart. Spent the next four months in slow motion, hooked on lorazepam (generic for Ativan™, 12 mg daily).

Much better now, thank you.

#“I did not wish to live what was not life,” Henry David Thoreau wrote in “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For,” the second chapter of Walden. The ultimate destination of our 1991 Thanksgiving trip had been my girlfriend‘s father’s house on the outskirts of Concord, directly across the street (or so she‘d said) from the house in which Thoreau was born in 1817. Built in 1736, that house was logrolled a few hundred yards down Virginia Road to its present location in 1878, and could use some protection from land-developer types in 1999. Walden or Life in the Woods is available in searchable HTML courtesy of Princeton’s Peter Batke at www.princeton.edu~batkethoreau.

Home-improvement expert Bob Vila offers minimally detailed instructions on how to build something he calls an “attractive bed” (www.bobvila.comcarplans2bed.htm); probably run you about $200 in materials. More attractive, in my opinion, is Bob‘s drawing (www.bobvila.comcarplans2graphicsbigGIFSbed.gif) of the attractive bed, which can be printed out and cryptically affixed to your refrigerator door for next to nothing.

Scroll to the bottom of the Benzodiazepine Angst Web Ring Headquarters page (www.slipperysquid.simplenet.combenzo.html) to research the benefits of addiction to the entire family: alprazolam, diazepam, tranxene, lorazepam, oxazepam, prazepam, chlordiazepoxide, halazepam, triazolam, clonazepam, flurazepam, temazepam.

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