The preferred term is "flotation" bed
May 19, 2016 5:46 AM   Subscribe

 
I went to Germany and Austria in 2007 with my wife (though we had just started dating at the time). We checked into our hotel in Vienna and the desk clerk, a woman of about our age, told us, "I gave you the room with the water bed, so you can ... [very long pause] ... try it."

We tried it. It was not particularly great, if I'm honest.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:54 AM on May 19, 2016 [19 favorites]


Spoiler- it says the market dried up.

Don't miss the closing link.
posted by MtDewd at 5:54 AM on May 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


In sixth grade, there was a waterbed in my friend Chris' condo. It belonged to his mom's boyfriend, a guy named Joel with a thick moustache who walked around with his shirt off a lot.
posted by jonmc at 5:56 AM on May 19, 2016 [57 favorites]


What? No. Having sex on a waterbed totally sucks.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:57 AM on May 19, 2016 [17 favorites]


Uh, that 'What' was in response to the article, not Jon's mom and her boyfriend.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:59 AM on May 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


I had a friend in 7th grade who had his own waterbed and he's now, according to LinkedIn, the sales manager for a BC winery.
posted by Flashman at 6:02 AM on May 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


with a thick moustache who walked around with his shirt off a lot.

This is the optimal way to have a waterbed
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:03 AM on May 19, 2016 [117 favorites]


Spoiler- it says the market dried up.

I see what you did there.
posted by Gelatin at 6:07 AM on May 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


My uncle had one. He is no longer with us.
posted by drezdn at 6:09 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


In my experience, cats. Cats happened.
posted by chaiminda at 6:09 AM on May 19, 2016 [46 favorites]


My parents had one for the longest time. I would sleep on it from time to time when they were out of town. I can't say I remember it or the naps I had on it with any fondness.
posted by Kitteh at 6:10 AM on May 19, 2016


God, I loved the waterbed I had as a child. I miss it often. No pressure points, adjustable to the perfect temperature seasonally.

I'm pretty sure the declaration for our condo forbids them, though.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:10 AM on May 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


In sixth grade, there was a waterbed in my friend Chris' condo. It belonged to his mom's boyfriend, a guy named Joel with a thick moustache who walked around with his shirt off a lot.

I think we had the same friend, except my friend lived in a manufactured house, not a condo. But the description of the mom's boyfriend is identical, that guy must have gotten around.

I've slept on a waterbed once, and it was sloshy to the point of making me queasy. I wouldn't think it would be good for sex, much less good rest. I am pretty sure that every rental lease I have ever signed has included a "no waterbeds" clause, and structurally I wonder if many of the houses I have lived in could handle the weight.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:11 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Iamkimiam, it was my friend's mom's boyfriend, not mine. My folks are still married.
posted by jonmc at 6:11 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I had a friend in 7th grade who had his own waterbed and he's now, according to LinkedIn, the sales manager for a BC winery.

I had a friend in 7th grade who had his own waterbed and he's now, according to LinkedIn, a diving instructor at a resort in Thailand.
posted by Kabanos at 6:13 AM on May 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


I had a waterbed from about age 21 to 24 or so. A guy I worked with gave it to me. I thought he was doing me a favor. It was actually me doing him the favor since I took it off his hands and he no longer had to find a way to dispose of it.

Setting it up and filling it on the second floor of a house (garden hose though the window) was about as difficult as you'd think. Removing it is even more difficult. At one point, after I moved with it, I discovered the mattress had been leaking (there's a liner as well, so it didn't flood my room) so I had to siphon the water out and then mop it up. I replaced the mattress and kept it around for a couple more years before I again moved and replaced it with a futon. My dad's neighbors ended up using the mattress as a giant pool toy.

They're comfy, but they're impossible to get in and out of. Waterbed sex was always the stuff of legends but, as iamkimiam mentioned above, it's not actually very good. There's nothing to hold you steady so you both just sort of ride the waves together. Any time you try to reposition yourself the whole thing turns into a wave pool and you fall over and your night of sexytimes is ruined until you decide to move to the floor so you can have a solid surface to do your business on.

I've always kind of imagined zero gravity sex would be similarly difficult, though I'd also be happy to take one for the team and give it a shot. For science.
posted by bondcliff at 6:13 AM on May 19, 2016 [29 favorites]


I always wanted to fill one with jello.
posted by beerperson at 6:16 AM on May 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yeah, when I was a kid my best friend had one. And although I thought it was plenty comfortable, I remember coming to see him one afternoon when he was in the process of emptying/refilling it and thinking, "My God, what a pain in the ass".
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:17 AM on May 19, 2016


God, I loved the waterbed I had as a child.

I had one from about age 12 until I moved out of my parents when I was 21. Sleeping on it was great, and yeah, sex was a little tricky but never a problem.
posted by malocchio at 6:19 AM on May 19, 2016


Due to their inherent grooviness, I would have thought their popularity peaked in the seventies rather than the late eighties.
posted by HeroZero at 6:19 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


A waterbed is no good unless installed in the back of an airbrushed van.
posted by Kabanos at 6:21 AM on May 19, 2016 [13 favorites]


I always wanted to fill one with jello.

According to TFA, that ended badly when the inventor tried it. But there is another option.

Jimmy Buffett released a double live album at one point, and the most interesting thing about it was that he was generally drunk as all hell on stage. So he would stop in the middle of a song and wander off into some rambling story about stealing sunglasses from Eckerds or whatever came to mind, while the band just kept up a rhythm behind him until he found his way back to the song. And when he did, he generally mangled the hell out of the lyrics.

So that version of the Buffett classic Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw? (and honestly that's a song for which I think the live, fucked up version really should be considered canon over the studio album) includes the couplet:

Why don't we get drunk and screw?
I just bought a waterbed, it's filled up with Elmer's Glue.

So you could try that...

another great thing about that album was that the audiences of drunken rednecks really wanted to hear that song too. so during all the patter between songs, you can hear completely wasted dudes in the audience shouting "get drunk n scrooooo."

the whole record is pretty much a paean to alcoholism, thinking back on it

posted by Naberius at 6:28 AM on May 19, 2016 [38 favorites]


Due to their inherent grooviness, I would have thought their popularity peaked in the seventies rather than the late eighties.
Remember that commerce always lags popular culture by 5-10 years. Like Malocchio I had one in my teens. The upkeep wasn't that big a deal - maybe we replaced the mattress once because of a leak, and the waterbed store sold adapters so you could connect a garden hose to the bathroom sink, or siphon water out without too much effort.
The biggest problem in my memory was temperature control. When you refilled the mattress it would take a day to get it up to a non-hypothermia-inducing temperature, and once or twice the heater failed without any indication, leaving you to wake up shivering in the middle of the night.

Also, you got used to a warm bed. When I switched back to a regular mattress, I had to sleep with seven blankets on the bed for about a year.
posted by cardboard at 6:32 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think we had the same friend, except my friend lived in a manufactured house, not a condo. But the description of the mom's boyfriend is identical, that guy must have gotten around.

Gather 'round, children as I tell the tale of Johnny Waterbed and his travels...
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:33 AM on May 19, 2016 [41 favorites]


Sleeping on it was great, and yeah, sex was a little tricky but never a problem.

I first got my waterbed when I was 11, so that was not really a major consideration in the decision. And later, I was sufficiently uncool that it still didn't matter.

After my brother moved into what had been our playroom as children, my parents took the wall out from in between what had been our two separate bedrooms. And then there were several years in which the decor of my room consisted of green carpet and curtains on one side, blue carpet and curtains on the other side, and in the middle, a strip of bare linoleum about 4 inches wide where the wall had been expanding out to a larger square where the closet had been. Getting the waterbed was only one part of the exciting change from that mess to what felt like a real, grown-up room.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:41 AM on May 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


In my experience, cats. Cats happened.

Obligatory Garfield
posted by Reverend John at 6:45 AM on May 19, 2016


Best bed we ever owned was our waterbed. Especially for me, with a very bad back, that thing was fantastic. We had a waveless model, so there was none of the rolling up and down stuff. Sex was great!

The only realy downside to the waterbed was that the bedsheets available for them were butt-ass FUGLY. God, the linens were horrible-looking.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:45 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I only ever slept on one once, one New Year's eve at my wife's friend's parents' house. I was extremely drunk. If there is an optimal way to experience a water bed, that was not it.
posted by dowcrag at 6:49 AM on May 19, 2016 [16 favorites]


I slept on a waterbed once or twice. I didn't find it pleasant – every time you roll over, you find yourself undulating on the resulting wave, which is not exactly restful. Maybe you get used to it after a while.

And, yeah – putting a giant bag of water in your home is just asking for trouble.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:49 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


In the mid-80's I dated a guy for YEARS who had a waterbed (in his bedroom in the basement). The best thing about sleeping on it was that I was always the right temperature, no matter what the season.

I also (god help me) miss waterbed sheets. Not because they were scratchy and ugly (which they totally were) but because the flat sheet was attached the fitted sheet and kept me from (as I do) pulling on the flat sheet so hard that it comes untucked and I wake up with it coiled around me like some kind of slack python.

If I could find a way to have THAT as a part of my daily life again (vs now where I have to strip and remake the bed pretty much every day) that would me amazing.
posted by anastasiav at 6:52 AM on May 19, 2016


"Jimmy Buffett released a double live album at one point, and the most interesting thing about it was that he was generally drunk as all hell on stage."

This one?:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Had_to_Be_There

Buffett has mentioned in past interviews that the album was recorded during a very 'painful' time. This was because he had broken his leg at one point during the tour, and was performing in a cast (as referenced several times on the record and even pictured in the inner jacket). He would usually be immobile, and would take painkillers to continue on during the frenzied performances.
Sounds like alcohol might not have been the main issue!
posted by bfields at 6:55 AM on May 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


It will come as a surprise to no one that I grew up with a waterbed. Fourth grade through college and a few years after that.
posted by ColdChef at 6:56 AM on May 19, 2016 [13 favorites]


I wake up with it coiled around me like some kind of slack python.

mrsozzy is the worst about untucking the flat sheet and moving it all around. It's perpetually almost-diagonal. I went to bed early one night a few months ago when I was sick with a fever and when she came to bed, I was lying sideways with the entire flat sheet twisted into a snake and wrapped around my neck and shoulders. She had a good laugh about that.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:57 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I had one for several years when I first moved out on my own at twenty. The sleep was fine, sex on one is okay but tricky, but to my mind the best thing about it -- living as I did in three places in succession without air conditioning -- was turning off the heater in the summer and sleeping in a lovely cooling bed. Ahhh.

The only downside was that it was so massive that in residence #2 the only way to get it into my room was positioning it so that one had to climb in over the foot of the bed.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:58 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


The only realy downside to the waterbed was that the bedsheets available for them were butt-ass FUGLY. God, the linens were horrible-looking.

When I was a socially clueless teenager, a cute girl invited me over and showed me her waterbed with new black satin sheets.

It was only much later than I figured out that she might have been interested in more than a discussion of furniture.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:58 AM on May 19, 2016 [54 favorites]


On Saturn's moon Titan the Titanians sleep their dreamless sleep upon beds filled with liquid methane.

Since as a kid I lived somewhere that blizzards would occasionally knock out the electricity for days or weeks and before we had a generator that would disable our well pump and consequently running water, the inner prepper in me has always liked the idea of a waterbed doing double service as a huge reservoir. Maybe some day you could have little jellyfish drones to swim around inside them and repair leaks to make them more practical, and also perhaps give you massages while you sleep.
posted by XMLicious at 6:58 AM on May 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


ColdChef: It will come as a surprise to no one that I grew up with a waterbed. Fourth grade through college and a few years after that.

So you're saying growing up with a waterbed will likely lead to becoming an undertaker? Hmmm.

I've slept on one a few times, when we were visiting some of my wife's family. Being of the wavy variety, it is a fun experience, and by fun I mean challenging to get into and out of without feeling like you'll suddenly sink into the bed itself. And the person who is still on the bed when someone else gets off also gets that sinking feeling. In short: I'm pretty sure that bed was underfilled, or I am not made for waterbeds.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:00 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Jell-O Bed!
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:00 AM on May 19, 2016


It will come as a surprise to no one that I grew up with a waterbed.

I would have guessed your first resting place was a pine box.
posted by notyou at 7:04 AM on May 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


It will come as a surprise to no one that I grew up with a waterbed.

You're confused. New Orleans is known for its high water table
posted by beerperson at 7:07 AM on May 19, 2016 [16 favorites]


I also (god help me) miss waterbed sheets. Not because they were scratchy and ugly (which they totally were) but because the flat sheet was attached the fitted sheet and kept me from (as I do) pulling on the flat sheet so hard that it comes untucked and I wake up with it coiled around me like some kind of slack python.

If I could find a way to have THAT as a part of my daily life again (vs now where I have to strip and remake the bed pretty much every day) that would me amazing.


anastaviav, maybe you should try ZipIts.
posted by emjaybee at 7:08 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I loved waterbeds and slept on them for approximately 20 years. There were a few problems along the way (bad kitty!) but really I didn't think the filling/siphoning/hose couplings situation was too terrible; it was festive in a weird way. And when I met Mr. Carmicha, I was thrilled to learn he had one too. Two stories...

  • After being horrified by our heating oil bill, my roommate decreed we would tough it out until summer. This was March. In Boston. It was truly miserable: we all avoided the apartment, wore gloves indoors, huddled under the covers, and discovered the joys of soup and tea and anything else cheap and hot to drink. It was also fun, in a winter camping sort of way. All went well until the electric bill arrived and it was four or five times the normal amount. WTF? My waterbed had been valiantly attempting to keep me warm at night.


  • A few years later, my ex 's fancy law firm paid for movers to pack and ship our stuff across the country. When we started unpacking, we discovered that they had packed everything: the trash in the garbage cans, the cigarette butts in the ashtray, etc. Obviously the company didn't allow its workers to make any decisions to avoid inadvertently tossing out somebody's precious. And they were clearly paid by the hour, judging by the wrapping job everything received. Clearly empty Tupperware requires five newsprint sheets for to keep it safe. But I digress.
    We couldn't find where the movers packed the cap for the mattress. Days went by and we got sick of sleeping on the floor. We visited the waterbed store to buy a replacements, having been assured it was a standard item: wrong. We visited more waterbed stores and bought more replacement caps: no luck. Eventually we made a claim and the company bought us a fantastic replacement bed. Years later we found the cap, jammed in a box of old records that had been in the basement of the original house, two floors away from the bed. Was it an absent-minded mover who stuck the cap in his pocket and then stuffed it into one of the last boxes or an effort to stick it to the man? We'll never know.

  • posted by carmicha at 7:10 AM on May 19, 2016 [18 favorites]


    My father had one in the 80s. At some point he ditched the water and filled it up with air. According to my weekly phone calls and visits with him he retired early and enjoys great success at fishing.
    posted by museum of fire ants at 7:11 AM on May 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


    When I was in 6thish grade, my parents had this weird waterbed mania and got one for themselves, my little sister, and me. For some reason, I also got champagne-colored satin sheets. I was also oblivious to whatever signals I was unintentionally throwing out with those.

    Main thing I remember about the waterbed during my gawky high school years was that the space between the mattress and its box was foul, filling up with Dorito crumbs and dog hair. Multi-person considerations weren't really an issue in those days.

    When I went off to college, the waterbed got more problematic when I'd come home. For one thing, my parents didn't keep the heater running when I wasn't there, and would often forget to turn it back on when I was on my way home. So my first night on any visit home would always be a freezing one, with hundreds of pounds of cold water sucking energy out of my body even through layers of sheet and sleeping bag.

    Also, the damned thing was never filled all the way, and didn't have any kind of stiffening mat built in. So when my (very petite) college girlfriend would come back with me, we discovered what happens when two people of drastically different mass try to sleep in a very floppy waterbed: the heavy person creates a deep depression, and the lighter person just sort of rolls onto them from wherever they try to be. That stopped being fun really fast.
    posted by the phlegmatic king at 7:13 AM on May 19, 2016 [12 favorites]


    I wouldn't think it would be good for sex
    Can confirm. I got one in college, when I was about 21 or 22, and kept it until I was about 30. At first it's interesting, but eventually it's tedious, because any motion ends up being forced into the waveform of the bed itself. Many sexings happened in alternative locations.

    Anyway.

    I got it because I suddenly needed a bed, but didn't want to spend a lot of money. Turns out, a bare-bones waterbed is dead cheap; I think I spent $270 delivered and assembled.

    It was interesting. By then they had three main kinds:

    1. "Free flow," which is what most people think of when they think of waterbeds. It's just a giant bladder of water that's shaped like a mattress.

    2. "Waveless," in which the mattress has channels and chambers like a pool float to retard the more dramatic water flow events; and

    3. "Semi-waveless," which was basically a free flow mattress with a giant spongey thing in it to split the difference.

    I got option 3, but after moving a few times, it was effectively a free-flow mattress as the weird spongy material ended up wadded up in a bottom corner.

    All that said, in the 9 or so years I had it, I experienced NO leaks (I had cats!) and NO maintenance hassle aside from the nontrivial logistics of moving. Actually, that's not even THAT bad, because my bed broke down into wooden parts that I could easily carry on my own. The mattress itself was awkward, but not very heavy once empty. The hassle is the emptying process. They'll give you a siphon device to drain it, but trust me when I say you just want to buy the damn pump.

    I did have one amusing event, though. As I said, I was a college kid when I got it, and like lots of college kids my friends and I were given to occasional use of psychoactive substances. The day I got it, my roomie and I also took delivery of a couple of sugar cubes, and I had the idea I'd spend the trip largely floating on my new bed. My girlfriend had no interest in this activity, so she laughed at my roomie and I and got ready for bed.

    As she approached the bed, I poked her with my foot, and her leg felt SUPER weird -- like, fuzzy. She laughed at me again, and we wrote it off as the LSD. She went to sleep, and I went on my trip.

    The next morning, though, C's leg still felt fuzzy -- but only if I was on the bed. My sober brain realized what the feeling was: the shitty student ghetto house was badly wired, and so the waterbed's heater wasn't quite grounding out.

    When I touched her when she stood on the floor, I was feeling electricity.

    The landlord, traditionally a neglectful and fairly unhelpful woman, was surprisingly prompt about getting an electrician out there -- on a Sunday! -- when I told her.
    posted by uberchet at 7:14 AM on May 19, 2016 [15 favorites]


    Imagine the combination of: waterbed (not the wave less type), Wesson oil, and a large plastic sheet.

    My back hurt for a month.
    posted by Pablo MacWilliams at 7:19 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


    A few years later, my ex 's fancy law firm paid for movers to pack and ship our stuff across the country. When we started unpacking, we discovered that they had packed everything: the trash in the garbage cans, the cigarette butts in the ashtray, etc.

    Thought you were going to tell us that they had carefully drained the water into sealable containers and shipped it out to your new home!
    posted by Naberius at 7:20 AM on May 19, 2016 [22 favorites]


    I neglected to mention what eventually played a major role in me abandoning mine: it was ridiculously hard to get decent sheets. You can't use regular sheets at all; waterbed sheets have deep pockets in the corners, and all the ones I ever had were one-piece deals with the topsheet stitched to the bedsheet along the bottom, because tucking two sheets in would've been nearly impossible.

    Because the beds themselves were a nice product (and the niche was getting smaller), finding a source for sheets at all was a challenge. (Remember, pre-Internet.)

    Finding GOOD sheets -- high threadcount, good cotton, etc -- was a goddamn nightmare.
    posted by uberchet at 7:26 AM on May 19, 2016


    Hall wanted to rethink furniture design, and was taken with the idea of fluid-filled interiors. Before settling on the waterbed, he had tried filling a chair with 300 pounds of cornstarch gel, which quickly rotted.

    I feel for this guy; customers have been similarly resistant to my own brilliant invention, the MilkSock
    posted by Greg Nog at 7:27 AM on May 19, 2016 [22 favorites]


    Oh man, I miss my waterbed. My parents loved them so as soon as I had outgrown my crib they bought me one. It was warm and cozy and a little bit sloshy and I would go to sleep every night pretending I was Ariel from "The Little Mermaid."
    posted by arkady at 7:31 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    the space between the mattress and its box was foul, filling up with Dorito crumbs and dog hair

    I have a friend with a horror story about moving to the southwest and discovering that a mother Tarantula had decided that the bottom corner of the waterbed was a perfectly good, cozy spot to make a nest.
    posted by anastasiav at 7:32 AM on May 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


    I miss the temperature of my old water bed. Everything else was terrible. That ability to have the bed cool you in summer or warm you in winter was so awesome.
    posted by humanfont at 7:35 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    My folks are still married.

    Not for long, if shirtless mustache waterbed dude comes around.
    posted by Rock Steady at 7:37 AM on May 19, 2016 [31 favorites]


    An ex-girlfriend had a waterbed. And a cat. Sometimes the heater stopped working so we woke up freezing. Sometimes the cat punctured the bed with his little claws, so we woke in puddles freezing. When it wasn't leaking and chilling us it was fun.
    posted by Splunge at 7:43 AM on May 19, 2016


    my parents had waterbeds for years. i took the chance to nap on it whenever i could. we lived in the south, sometimes without any kind of ac, the waterbed was a godsend. sometimes i'd strip off all the sheets and just lay on the cool mattress. i will also always have a fondness for them because it was on a waterbed, while watching, mtv that i relearned i am queer. i've never had sex on one, but masturbation works great!
    posted by nadawi at 7:47 AM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


    My dad was a waterbed salesman when I was quite young. He was apparently a true believer in the product because my parents had a queen-sized waterbed for at least a decade. My clearest memories of the waterbed all involve returning from vacations to find the mattress had been punctured by the cats and flooded their bedroom. Good times!
    posted by palindromic at 7:48 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    When I was a teenager and had a waterbed, the saying was always "push one, coast five". The saying was incorrect.
    posted by Bovine Love at 7:48 AM on May 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


    My childhood friend had one of which I was fiercely jealous.

    We would do this thing where one of us would pull the corner of the mattress up as far as we could (like, put our feet on the headboard and yank back with both hands), while the other kid would wriggle under the mattress as far as they could go and THWAP - we'd release the heavy mattress.

    Whoever wriggled under would be basically trapped with their arms, armpits and head and shoulders sticking out. Then we'd hang out all afternoon, trapped in our respective corners, tossing books and toys to one another while we enjoyed the novelty of being crushed by a giant vinyl water sack.
    posted by Dressed to Kill at 7:53 AM on May 19, 2016 [29 favorites]


    I shake my fist at you modern youngsters and demand you get off my lawn.

    My wife and I shared a waterbed for 25 years. If it's sloshing, it's either filled incorrectly, or you cheaped out and bought the bed with no anti-slosh waffles in the mattress.

    It was fine. It's nice to get into a pre-heated bed. Sheets were more difficult to find, especially as we exited the 90's.

    We eventually moved to a normal mattress, and that's fine also.
    posted by blob at 7:54 AM on May 19, 2016


    My sophomore year of college one of my fraternity brothers flunked out, and sold me his waterbed for $75. I had it on the third floor of the fraternity house until my senior year, when I changed rooms and had to leave it as waterbeds weren't allowed in the "old house" as it was an old wood frame house, where as the annex side was a newer steel frame building that could handle the extra weight.

    I never had any issues with leaks, but I did come back from Christmas break one year to find the water spoiled and my room smelling like a swamp. So I had to get a new mattress and refill it in January, in Indiana. As I remember it, I slept on my couch for 2 night before the waterbed finally warmed up enough to sleep on. The frat house was not well heated or insulated, so that thing was a damn comfortable on cold winter nights. That probably had something to do with my inability to make it 8 AM classes.

    I don't remember ever thinking sex on the waterbed presented a problem, but then I was a 19/20 year old guy in college, I didn't exactly have much to compare it to.
    posted by COD at 7:56 AM on May 19, 2016


    I had a waterbed, complete with de rigueur black satin sheets*, exactly when I was supposed to: first apartment, still a teenager, spent rest of first paycheck on kickass stereo and sat on the floor eating ramen and listening to Echo and the Bunnymen, because, like, that was all the money.

    It never leaked or caused real problems, but it was a pain to get rid of. I do sort of remember some hazy good times, there. I think it's a rite of passage.

    * And yet somehow I grew into career in which people paid me boxes of money for my design sense. Yeah, go figure. Youth is so embarrassing.
    posted by rokusan at 7:57 AM on May 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


    *snort* "anti-slosh waffles"
    posted by jillithd at 8:00 AM on May 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


    Somebody told my dad that a waterbed would help his horrible, horrible back, so we got a used one from somebody, and it didn't help his back, and my parents hated sleeping on it together, and that's the story of how I ended up with my own room in the basement and a waterbed at 10 years old.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:00 AM on May 19, 2016 [13 favorites]


    ...no anti-slosh waffles in the mattress.

    Found my next sockpuppet name.
    posted by rokusan at 8:01 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    In college, one of my apartment roommates had a waterbed in the basement, and couldn't figure out a way to drain it that made use of a hose and bucket effectively, so he took a butcher knife and slashed it in the middle so he could get the bucket right into the water itself and trundle that upstairs. That resulted in a huge, saturated part of the carpeting that didn't dry up for months and months. He was not the brightest guy in the world.
    posted by xingcat at 8:03 AM on May 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


    I had a waterbed... I was in the army, we were living off-base in a cheap apartment in Texas. As a side job I managed the small apartment building. We bought the bed, initially using it on the floor without a frame... you tend to roll off the edges. Eventually we got tired of it, it was terrible for ANY use (in the bedroom).

    We finally did repurpose it by filling it with air, floating it in the pool, and jumping onto it from the second floor balcony. There were one or two incidents of a drunk friend bouncing off of it onto the pool deck, but, all in all, we decided it was more useful as a pool toy.
    posted by HuronBob at 8:03 AM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


    moving the waterbed was so much easier than traditional beds (excepting for the drain time, but that happens while you're packing and moving the rest of the stuff). everything was really light and came apart great.
    posted by nadawi at 8:04 AM on May 19, 2016


    On Saturn's moon Titan the Titanians sleep their dreamless sleep upon beds filled with liquid methane.

    do they ever smoke in bed?
    posted by pyramid termite at 8:08 AM on May 19, 2016


    dunno, never looked
    posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:14 AM on May 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


    A waterbed is no good unless installed in the back of an airbrushed van.

    That van is A) Totally Boss, and B) a hilarious troll. You get a sweet custom van and give it a 100% wraparound airbrush mural of Star Wars because yes, and this fine chariot needs an appropriate name. So you dub it 'Battlestar'? Well played, sir. Well played.
    posted by FatherDagon at 8:15 AM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]



    Jimmy Buffett released a double live album at one point, and the most interesting thing about it was that he was generally drunk as all hell on stage. So he would stop in the middle of a song and wander off into some rambling story about stealing sunglasses from Eckerds or whatever came to mind, while the band just kept up a rhythm behind him until he found his way back to the song. And when he did, he generally mangled the hell out of the lyrics.


    That would be You Had To Be There, released in 1978. While I make no apologies for the drunkeness on stage the song in question is God's Own Drunk, which is intentionally rambling and a shaggy dog story meant to go off into far places such as new sunglasses from Eckard's or getting pulled over by a policeman on I-75 headed for Florida. It's played in lieu of intermission to give the band a rest. Think "a moonshine version of Alice's Restaurant".

    As for Elmer's Glue becoming more canon, in concerts that line is included quite often, so you're pretty much on point there.
    posted by splen at 8:16 AM on May 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


    My sophomore year of college one of my fraternity brothers flunked out, and sold me his waterbed for $75.

    I traded an extra tenor saxophone (my crappy outdoor sax) for my first waterbed, during my senior year in college. I had a serious boyfriend and wanted a bigger bed. I traded sax for sex, I guess...
    posted by carmicha at 8:23 AM on May 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


    crappy outdoor sax

    Honestly, I'd rather have outdoor sax than waterbed sax.
    posted by uncleozzy at 8:25 AM on May 19, 2016 [13 favorites]


    Trading a sax for a waterbed feels like some sort of Sexy version of The Gift of the Magi.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:29 AM on May 19, 2016 [57 favorites]


    crappy outdoor sax

    It was for marching band. I played bassoon seriously and sax for fun, in part because marching with a bassoon makes no sense: awkward, bad for the wooden instrument and adds negligible sound or texture.
    posted by carmicha at 8:29 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    My waterbed had been valiantly attempting to keep me warm at night.

    That reminds me of the time my heater went out, and apparently my body was trying to keep the waterbed warm. That thing sucked all the heat right out of me.
    posted by malocchio at 8:39 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    One of my early memories is moving into a new house, and my parents bought a waterbed for the upstairs bedroom. An interesting thing: if you fill it with a hose and forget that it's running, it tends to not turn itself off. A couple of hours later, the ceiling in our living room collapsed under the weight of the water. My mom felt really bad, as we didn't have a lot of money. My dad spent many nights, in good spirits, patching up the ceiling, never saying a negative word about it. I learned a lot about waterbeds and relationships as a result of that experience.
    posted by SpacemanStix at 8:41 AM on May 19, 2016 [34 favorites]


    The prospect of water everywhere has always terrified me about waterbeds.
    posted by stoneweaver at 8:43 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    The prospect of ever having to move a waterbed has always terrified me, too.
    posted by SpacemanStix at 8:45 AM on May 19, 2016


    //The prospect of ever having to move a waterbed has always terrified me, too.//

    Moving a waterbed is actually very easy. You drain the mattress and all that's left is the wood frame and the vinal mattress. On my cheap waterbed, it was just some particle board with a piece of plywood for the mattress to rest on. Cheap, but did an effective job of distributing the weight.

    Mine had a liner that theoretically would contain all the water in case of a leak. Never had to test it so no idea of it actually worked or not.
    posted by COD at 8:54 AM on May 19, 2016


    I had a soft-sided waveless waterbed in the 90s-early 2000s. It looked from the outside like a regular mattress, pillowtop and all. There were foam sides and in the center were 5 long individual water tubes. So, no sloshing, no special sheets or hard bed edges to bang your knee on. Relatively easy to fill because each tube could just be filled in your tub. It also didn't need a heater since there was a layer of foam/pillowtop between you and the water tubes.

    But honestly it was an awful lot of technology and work-arounds to deal with the downsides of waterbeds, with the result that it mostly felt like a regular bed. It was nice that it never formed permanent divots over time, but otherwise, meh.

    My parents to this day still have a waterbed. Not sure the appeal, but they like it.
    posted by misskaz at 8:54 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    When I was 13, I bought myself a waterbed with the money people gave me for my Bat Mitzvah. It hung around at my parents house until after I graduated from college, but they finally got rid of it.

    My biggest complaint is that it was always either too hot (if the heater was on) or way too cold.
    posted by leahwrenn at 9:05 AM on May 19, 2016


    My dad actually built a waterbed frame for himself and my mom in the early 80s, which was beautifully stained and apparently served their needs for several years, including one or two moves, which I don't remember as being particularly difficult or complicated.

    My primary anecdote about that bed specifically is that Mom and Dad went out for the evening shortly after Dad finished building it, and snaked a hose from the kitchen sink up the stairs, through a bedroom, and into their bed to fill it up. The babysitter was instructed to turn the water off at a specific time, and the idea was that they would come home to a freshly-filled waterbed and be able to sleep in it that night.

    I, being a kid, and consequently not being in on the plan, only knew that the water was on because the bed was being filled. So when I noticed that the water had been turned off, I concluded that there had been some sort of accident, and turned it back on.

    When Mom and Dad arrived back home, then, they went up to disconnect the hose and everything, and found the bed looking something like this.

    The mattress held together, to its credit, so I think all they had to do was disconnect the hose downstairs and let the mattress siphon itself down to the desired volume; things could have been a lot worse. I don't think I even got in trouble for doing it (though I think Dad did wake me up to make me look at it, which wouldn't have meant much to me, since I wouldn't have known what waterbeds were supposed to look like); I don't remember whether there were consequences for the babysitter.
    posted by Spathe Cadet at 9:05 AM on May 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


    "anti-slosh waffles"

    Boon companion to Johnny Waterbed, Auntie Slosh Waffles was never too far off. For it was she who owned the panel van that Johnny would load his belongings in to after his latest mom relationship ended.

    The van was never big enough to hold a waterbed, and lo the seeds were sewn!
    posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:11 AM on May 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


    Being I was in my twenties and thirties during the waterbed era, of course we had a couple. After a few dodgy mattresses we ended up going the waveless route, with vinyl thick enough to withstand the occasional cat claw. My wife actually found some flannel waterbed sheets and let me tell you, winter nights were bliss. Give a cat a warm bed with flannel sheets and clawing a hole is the last thing on its mind. They'll sleep for days.

    Never had a problem gaining traction or leverage for you know, other things you do in bed.
    posted by Ber at 9:24 AM on May 19, 2016


    My mom had her own Johnny Waterbed in 1983 or so, complete with mustache, bare chest, and coke habit. Their union was short-lived, however, after Mom caught Johnny in said waterbed with her sister.

    That escalated quickly.
    posted by pxe2000 at 9:24 AM on May 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


    I slept on a waterbed once or twice. I didn't find it pleasant – every time you roll over, you find yourself undulating on the resulting wave, which is not exactly restful. Maybe you get used to it after a while.

    No. You replace it with a baffled, waveless mattress. It's like night and day. No more wave-riding. Just lovely, form-fitting support.
    posted by Thorzdad at 9:27 AM on May 19, 2016


    I admit that I found waterbeds both fascinating and comfortable when I was a kid. A couple of my friends' parents had them.

    And then in my 20s I spent a traumatically miserable night on a waterbed at a friend's apartment. It had been given to him by another friend. It had a broken heater. My not-too-bright friend felt the heater was optional. He was a big guy and apparently didn't mind having his body heat sucked out of him as if a shipwreck victim submerged in the North Atlantic. Me, not so much. My bones and joints ached for days afterward.
    posted by desuetude at 9:30 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


    My seventh-grade friend with a waterbed is an animator now
    posted by town of cats at 9:34 AM on May 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


    My now ex-wife and I shared a waterbed for a few years. I referred to it (in my head) as "The Dead Sea".
    posted by HarrysDad at 9:41 AM on May 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


    > Somebody told my dad that a waterbed would help his horrible, horrible back

    I had a waterbed for a while when I was in high school, and I loved it until I started to develop lower back pain...which went away the instant I got rid of it and went back to a regular mattress. My mom and dad got rid of theirs for the same reason.
    posted by The Card Cheat at 9:44 AM on May 19, 2016


    If I could find a way to have THAT as a part of my daily life again (vs now where I have to strip and remake the bed pretty much every day) that would me amazing.

    You could probably make this happen with a needle and thread.
    posted by kenko at 9:49 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    We never had a waterbed, but I knew so many people who had them and I've slept on a ton of them through the years. I always found it perplexing how popular they were because I hated them. I only ever shared the bed with someone else (friends at sleepovers, my first boyfriend, etc.) and they were just uncomfortable: the sheet would inevitably untuck itself, exposing me to the tacky feeling of cold vinyl; the water temperature was always either too hot or too cold; the sloshing/waves every time any occupant moved a bit; and personally I had the issue where my butt/hips would sink lower than my shoulders, and I would feel like I was sleeping on an incline. Ugh.

    The last time I encountered one, I think, was when I was living in the basement of this guy's house in 2002ish. He had a waterbed in his room and one in the guest room. I had some houseguests during my time there, and they were invited to use that guest room, but they always laughed at the waterbed and refused, preferring to stay on the couch instead.
    posted by aabbbiee at 9:49 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    That van is A) Totally Boss, and B) a hilarious troll. You get a sweet custom van and give it a 100% wraparound airbrush mural of Star Wars because yes, and this fine chariot needs an appropriate name. So you dub it 'Battlestar'? Well played, sir. Well played.

    The passenger side of the van is painted with a Battlestar Galactica mural. I agree that it's hella sweet, though.
    posted by Fleebnork at 9:51 AM on May 19, 2016


    I'm just remembering how after a few months the vinyl mattress would be covered in a fine dust that I eventually realized was an accumulation of the dead skin that had come off me in the night and worked its way down through the sheets.
    posted by cardboard at 10:16 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Oh, also, you know what IS really fun on a waterbed?

    Getting HIGH AS FUCK and just lying there.
    posted by bondcliff at 10:32 AM on May 19, 2016 [13 favorites]


    I had a waterbed throughout much of the mid-to-late 1980's. You haven't lived until you've cleaned up puke from a sick child that's seeped down between the mattress and frame.

    Got rid of it when I got married, the (now ex) didn't want one. Missed it at first, consoled myself by getting a King-sized bed. Which I later found out made a great trampoline for my son when he was 6 (not encouraged).

    And yeah, the filling and emptying was a pain. But loved having a heated bed in the winter.
    posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:33 AM on May 19, 2016


    Oh, also, you know what IS really fun on a waterbed?

    Getting HIGH AS FUCK and just lying there.
    '

    If I was rich, I would get one for a guest room just for that purpose.
    posted by OwlBoy at 10:37 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    This post is so funny to me. I had a waterbed for my entire childhood, and my parents STILL have theirs. I associate it with.. sleeping, not some skeezy 70s bordello house. Of course, my sister sleeps on 3 mattresses and box springs all stacked up on each other, so maybe we're just a weird family?
    posted by zug at 10:53 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    When I was a tiny child, my mom had a waterbed, a Rick Springfield poster, a sweet mullet, and a van. Anyway, I wasn't allowed to sleep in her bed because I fidgeted and made her seasick, but sometimes she'd let me lay on it for naps and that was pretty cool.
    posted by palomar at 10:54 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    it would make me so happy if Johnny Waterbed, both as phrase and concept, escaped this thread and lived on in the wider culture
    posted by the phlegmatic king at 10:56 AM on May 19, 2016 [30 favorites]


    my sister sleeps on 3 mattresses and box springs all stacked up on each other

    Have you tried sneaking a pea under there?
    posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:13 AM on May 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


    I've been sleeping on a waterbed pretty much since about 1977.
    Early on, it was cheap and we didn't have AC in north Texas in the crappy rental houses, so it was cool in the summer and warm in the winter. And easy to move.
    When I went to grad school, it was cheap, and easy to move.
    Now, after a crushed vertebra, necrosed hip joint, shoulder surgery etc, a barely filled waterbed is about the only way I can get comfortable and sleep well.
    I *do* have a huge moustache, but I wear my shirt around the house. I am past the point of worrying about any co-sleepers, so none of those problems.
    posted by rudd135 at 11:14 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Uh... we still have ours. It's excellent. It doesn't need special sheets because it has a light pillowy, washable zip-up cover that makes it exactly king size. The watery part in the middle is actually many individual water noodles that run lengthwise inside the frame, so if you move around and make waves, they won't go sideways to the other person.

    So I guess there were manufacturing advances that took care of a lot of the infamous problems with the old ones, but it was too late for the style to survive...
    posted by heatvision at 11:17 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    A waterbed is what my high school girlfriend's father the Oakland cop caught us on, so they're permanently awesome thereby.
    posted by rhizome at 11:23 AM on May 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


    My time sleeping on a waterbed coincided with me being heavily pregnant. It got to the point where I could no longer swing my legs off the bed to get up because I couldn't pull my top half up into a sitting position. So every morning, I had to spend some time building up momentum to roll off the bed and land on my hands and knees on the floor, from where I could use the bed frame to pull myself upright.
    posted by Ruki at 11:23 AM on May 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


    This is what finally gets me to the sidebar, and on my birthday no less. I honestly do not know whether I hate or love you people.
    posted by Etrigan at 11:33 AM on May 19, 2016 [28 favorites]


    Happy birthday!
    Here... we got you this water bed.
    posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:38 AM on May 19, 2016 [15 favorites]


    I can think of no better excuse than this thread (no other excuse, really) to post this glorious tribute to legendary Sackatomato waterbed mogul Tom LaBrie: Enjoy you some Night Comfort
    posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 11:40 AM on May 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


    Enjoy you some Night Comfort

    Only 1800 views for that video in 4 years? Internet, you disappoint.
    posted by COD at 12:15 PM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Only 1800 views for that video in 4 years? Internet, you disappoint.

    Well, I honestly can't imagine there's a huge audience out there for tribute videos to 35+ year old waterbed ads, even among former late night Sacramento UHF viewers.
    posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 12:30 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Ok the guy in that ad is exactly what I imagined Johnny Waterbed looks like.
    posted by bondcliff at 12:34 PM on May 19, 2016 [12 favorites]


    Well, I honestly can't imagine there's a huge audience out there for tribute videos to 35+ year old waterbed ads

    And frankly that's the trouble with the world today from my viewpoint.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:44 PM on May 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


    Soundtrack for this thread: Kevie Kev - All Night Long (Waterbed)
    posted by porn in the woods at 1:12 PM on May 19, 2016


    Happy Birthday, etrigan.

    All of us old nostalgic people on Metafilter have been waiting for you here, in the dark, for hours. The only sound has been a soothing, rhythmic sloosh-sloosh... sloosh-sloosh.

    It was supposed to be a surprise party, but we all fell asleep.
    posted by rokusan at 1:15 PM on May 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Nobody has mention waterbed mold--there's that insidious small leak that starts the process. Then you go to move, and realize as you're draining the water that what is coming out of the bed is sludge because the stuff you were supposed to put in to prevent that didn't work. Then you pick up the bag, and it un-sticks from the frame and you immediately want a flame thrower.
    posted by BlueHorse at 1:17 PM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Honestly guys, you can't just toss this stuff out without including a link. So here you go:

    So that version of the Buffett classic Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw? (and honestly that's a song for which I think the live, fucked up version really should be considered canon over the studio album) includes the couplet:

    Why don't we get drunk and screw?
    I just bought a waterbed, it's filled up with Elmer's Glue.


    Youtube

    A different live version that includes video.

    That would be You Had To Be There, released in 1978. While I make no apologies for the drunkeness on stage the song in question is God's Own Drunk, which is intentionally rambling and a shaggy dog story meant to go off into far places such as new sunglasses from Eckard's or getting pulled over by a policeman on I-75 headed for Florida.

    Youtube.
    posted by flug at 1:20 PM on May 19, 2016


    This confirms it. Now I can tell Mrs. Hacker we are in fact the last owners of a waterbed on the planet.
    posted by skippyhacker at 2:05 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    The passenger side of the van is painted with a Battlestar Galactica mural. I agree that it's hella sweet, though.

    Damn their tiny images! I saw the Emperor on the back end and thought that was Boba and an Imperial Guard in the middle, with some dodgy X and Y-Wings surrounding.
    posted by FatherDagon at 2:21 PM on May 19, 2016


    I was extremely drunk. If there is an optimal way to experience a water bed, that was not it.

    This probably has a lot to do with my negative feelings about them. 99% of the experience I had with them was someone else's house, drunk, not a waveless mattress. Waterbeds to me mean confusion, nauseousness, hangovers and sex you can barely remember.

    customers have been similarly resistant to my own brilliant invention, the MilkSock

    I'll bet they have. Worst euphemism ever.
    posted by bongo_x at 2:27 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Oh, man, Tom LaBrie. NOW THE ELEPHANT WILL SIT ON THE MATTRESS. Tom and George Peppard. Single girls: maybe you've just had a divorce or just enjoy the free life. Sadly he left the world alone, a swinging bachelor to the end.
    posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:45 PM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


    My STBX husband had a water bed when we first met!

    RED FLAGS, FOLKS. RED FLAGS.
    posted by drlith at 3:14 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    My parents had a waterbed. We were a military family and we moved every couple of years, so for most of the '80s, there was this elaborate draining and refilling ritual that took a whole day on either end of the move. In between, every month or so, it was a family event to "burp" the bed: We'd take the sheets off and the kids would corral all the bubbles to the nozzle at the foot of the bed. For a while, I was the perfect height to do a jelly roll down the length of the bed to get the largest bubbles out.

    The waterbed eventually proved too much of a hassle (and a literal pain in the back for my parents) but the frame it had with drawers underneath still lives on. It's now a captain's bed of sorts in the corner of our tiny cabin.

    I loved the thing. It was super warm and like having the best electric blanket ever. I begged my parents to get the satin sheets because I thought they were so elegant!

    Happy birthday, Etrigan!
    posted by mochapickle at 3:17 PM on May 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


    (for clarity's sake, this was only 12 years ago and he was 34 years old at the time)
    posted by drlith at 3:23 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I should note that those of you who really miss the heater can buy an electric mattress pad for a cool hundred bucks. They're amazing in the winter. Just turn them on an hour before you climb into bed, and you can even shut the thing off at that point. Mmmm... cozy....
    posted by you're a kitty! at 3:24 PM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I think my grandparents had the frame seen at 1:44 in the Tom LaBrie tribute. My grandmother had severe back problems and swore by her waterbed. I do remember sitting on it with my sisters once when we were visiting as little kids and thinking it was basically the coolest.
    posted by epersonae at 3:31 PM on May 19, 2016


    Until I saw the Tom LaBrie ads my mental image for "Johnny Waterbed" was Alexander Skarsgard in Diary of a Teenage Girl.
    posted by pxe2000 at 3:37 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    We'd take the sheets off and the kids would corral all the bubbles to the nozzle at the foot of the bed.

    Oh, man! I totally forgot about this. This was the best! Especially since we weren't otherwise allowed in our parents room. Every few months we got to come in and play on their bed.

    I should note that those of you who really miss the heater can buy an electric mattress pad for a cool hundred bucks.

    It's not just the heat in the winter, it's the cooling in summer.
    posted by jacquilynne at 3:55 PM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I catsit for my former neighbors who have a waterbed. I never get a decent night's sleep on it, because I'm pear-shaped; my butt sinks deeper than my head does and I feel like I'm leaning all night. It has been nice and cool on warm nights, though.

    Their current cats love the waterbed. They jump up on the bed and stand there like surfboarders while the waves are still rolling. When I get under the covers and make even bigger waves, the cats barely even wake up. Maybe it's soothing for them. (Then again, these cats also go on road trips in the neighbors' mobile home for weeks at a time, so maybe they just dig the movement.)
    posted by vickyverky at 4:16 PM on May 19, 2016


    My parents had a heated waterbed when I was a kid. I remember it being comfortable enough to sleep on, as long as you didn't move around too much, but even with the heater off, it was HOT. Plus, if you weren't careful, you'd slide down between the mattress and the side of the bedframe. It was REALLY hard to get in and out of, too. My parents bought it because it was touted as a great thing for my mom's arthritis, but I think any benefit she got from sleeping on it was negated by the struggles to get in and out of bed.

    They got rid of it after learning a hard lesson about how damn heavy waterbeds are -- late one night, I was asleep in my room when a weird commotion woke me up. The whole house was shaking -- my bedroom door was swinging open and shut, the mirror over my dresser was rocking back and forth, the curtains on my window were swaying like crazy... I was about 12 years old, and had recently seen the movie Poltergeist, so I freaked right out thinking I was about to be eaten by my closet.

    Turns out, the weight of the waterbed was too much for a major support beam running under the floor of my parents' room. Luckily the bed didn't fall through the floor, but it did have to be very, very carefully drained and removed, and the floor had to be jacked back up, and a support post installed underneath. (It was a one-story house, so that was fairly easy.)
    posted by sarcasticah at 4:34 PM on May 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Happy birthday, Etrigan. Thank you for the gift of a thread that made me laugh at the end of a long, tough day. Specifically, Rock Steady's one-liner:

    My folks are still married.

    Not for long, if shirtless mustache waterbed dude comes around.

    posted by virago at 6:55 PM on May 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


    Oh man, that ad....that is every Johnny Waterbed that offered me coke when I was 14. The 70s were weird, y'all.
    posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:14 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    my sister sleeps on 3 mattresses and box springs all stacked up on each other

    Wait so this go:

    box spring—box spring—box spring—mattress—mattress—mattress

    Or is it like

    box spring—mattress—box spring—mattress—box spring—mattress

    ?
    posted by kenko at 7:32 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


    The three box springs are on the bottom, followed by the three mattresses.

    The overall effect is somewhat like a precariously balanced trampoline, I tried to sit on it once and nearly set the whole thing toppling over, but she swears it's super cozy.
    posted by zug at 7:54 PM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


    I slept in a semi-waveless soft-sided queen size waterbed for 18 years. Two very small leaks in its last couple of years finally persuaded me to discard it during a move in 2006, and other considerations persuaded me to replace it with a conventional mattress, but I do miss it.

    It sat on a base made up of crossed slabs of particle board that left a very distinctive imprint in the bedroom carpet. Never had an issue with floor loading, but then, I only moved three times during the time I had it and all my flats had concrete floors. Drained, the whole thing, boards and all, was light enough for me to carry, though awkward.

    I never used special linen, just regular fitted sheets and a doona. The bed had a zip-on woolly top that completely enclosed and protected the bag and its leakproof liner. In hot summers I would turn off the heater and sleep comfortably. In winter, it was always warm and ready for me, except for the first night after I returned from a long trip, but then I would just haul my spare doona from a cupboard and put it between me and the mattress.

    Draining simply involved running a garden hose into the shower and sucking until I could tell the water was coming, then dropping the end before I got a mouthful of anti-mould chemical. Once most of the water was gone, the bag was light enough to carry into the shower to finish the job. Filling was a little harder because I had to remember to check on it periodically.

    The conventional metal bedframe that replaced the waterbed worked fine for a couple of years while I was living alone, but did not survive my first year of marriage. For some reason it became wobbly and had to be braced with wire to prevent it completely falling apart. Its replacement is a massive wooden structure that is holding together (so far), but sometimes I feel wistful for the waterbed, which (I feel sure) would have taken all this abuse in its stride.

    And besides, Robert Heinlein.
    posted by Autumn Leaf at 9:27 PM on May 19, 2016


    The overall effect is somewhat like a precariously balanced trampoline, I tried to sit on it once and nearly set the whole thing toppling over, but she swears it's super cozy.

    Slip a pea in there somewhere and see if she's royalty.
    posted by notyou at 9:37 PM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


    But not the pee.

    I have nothing to say about water beds (except the few times I tried to lie on one my body got a really strong "what the fuck is going on" vibe happening, so I didn't really fell safe until I'd got off it), but wanted to mention that Jimmy Buffett is one of those things that I see referenced in American media a fair amount but never really made it over here, so I actually don't know anything about him. I assume he's vaguely country/folky-sounding, and occasionally hear stories about him (like the above) but genuinely have no idea. I realise what with the internet and everything it would be easy for me to find out, but kind of want to keep at least that tiny part of the world mysterious, as the reality could only be less interesting. The same thing is true of Gilligan's Island, for what it's worth. Everything I know about Gilligan's Island I learned from Bloom County.
    posted by Grangousier at 2:32 AM on May 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


    To this day I'm annoyed that the only person who could lure Bill Withers out of retirement was Jimmy Buffet.

    Meanwhile, a close encounter with a waterbed.
    posted by pxe2000 at 3:56 AM on May 20, 2016


    A waterbed is what my high school girlfriend's father the Oakland cop caught us on, so they're permanently awesome thereby.

    rhizome, did the cop have a cop mustache or a Johnny Waterbed mustache? (or are those somehow basically the same thing?)
    posted by dorian at 4:12 AM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


    None of my friends were ever cool enough to have waterbeds, but during my early adolescence, going to Sears and "testing the waterbeds" until they kicked us out of the store was a key component of any mall excursion, falling somewhere between checking out the cassingles at Record Town and seeing if we could get Kevin at Corn Dog 7 to give us free refills on the Icees.
    posted by thivaia at 6:42 AM on May 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


    ctrl-f mulder

    no results in TFA, no results in mefi thread :(

    Visiting friends out of town, their guest room was a waterbed, and they forgot to warn me. Strange sensation, learned it wasn't my thing.
    posted by k5.user at 7:01 AM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


    rhizome, did the cop have a cop mustache or a Johnny Waterbed mustache? (or are those somehow basically the same thing?)

    Johnny Waterbed grooms his mustache daily. A cop just trims his when it starts dipping into the coffee.
    posted by Etrigan at 7:34 AM on May 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I'm with the phlegmatic king, in that if Johnny Waterbed doesn't make it out of this thread and into the common cultural lexicon I will be sorely, sorely disappointed.
    posted by bologna on wry at 8:40 AM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


    I had a waterbed in my teens through early twenties. Sex wasn't great but in hindsight there were bigger factors than the bed...
    posted by raider at 11:45 AM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I think we had the same friend, except my friend lived in a manufactured house, not a condo. But the description of the mom's boyfriend is identical, that guy must have gotten around.

    Gather 'round, children as I tell the tale of Johnny Waterbed and his travels...


    I don't know the chronology of jonmc's friend's mom & her dalliance with Johnny Waterbed, but I can confirm a sighting in Michigan in the early 80s. Being born in the 50s and married in the 70s, Mrs. Bubba &n I acquired the slumberchamper epitome of presumed hedonistic coolness sometime in the late 70s. It was fine for connubial bliss, if y'all had problems messing around, y'all have other problems. The things that spelled its demise for us was the continual slippage of sheets, no matter the adaptations manufacturers made. That and the dwindling supply of quality sheets, and the persistent clammishness in the summer. In fact, the un-breathability was what made us turn against it. Make no mistake, we bought top of the line, but over a period of years, it became clear that the Jetsons would not be sleeping on waterbeds. But I digress, the story of Johnny Waterbed.

    Soon after we moved from the sticks to College Town USA, we decided to sell the waterbed. No craigslist in 1986, so we used the local paper. I traveled a lot on the job, so selling the bed fell to Mrs. Bubba, or at least fielding the calls when I wasn't there. Well, Johnny Waterbed thought he had sussed out a sweet situation, he thought. Mrs. B can remember the details with much more precision, but suffice it to say, on the first call he was all proper and polite, but on subsequent calls he began to ooze his thick mustached, hairy chested, waterbed loverman persona, at which point, Mrs Bubba said "Thanks for calling back. I told the police that I was sure you would, so this call is being recorded for evidence."

    Johnny WB hung up, never to be heard from again, and the waterbed was donated to a neighbor who had never succumbed to the siren song of sleeping aquatic but who wanted to try it. In any case, the waterbed and Johnny were out of our lives that weekend.
    posted by beelzbubba at 12:34 PM on May 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


    My parents bought me a waveless bed when I was 12 or 13. I have no idea why - they didn't have one, we didn't know anyone who owned a waterbed store, I had certainly never wanted or asked for one. I had actually forgotten until I read this thread. Recently, I was observing to someone that I was nowhere near as climate-finicky as a teenager as I was after I moved out, and that's why. I can remember waking up just a smidge too warm or too cold and nudging the bed thermostat, it was bliss to be able to knock it down a degree too cold in the summer and then need to sleep on top of my sheets.

    The waveless beds had a rigid internal baffle for a frame, and it was hell on my ass to try to sit on the edge for any length of time. And I was a bass player and practiced in my room, so I had to keep sitting in different spots to keep from permanently denting the pad.

    I had sex in it once and nearly broke my neck.

    There was a period of time in college in which a waterbed - the old-school giant bag-o-water type - featured predominantly, and it turns out there are some activities that are really well suited to it. You can also sleep quite a few people on one, if that becomes necessary.
    posted by Lyn Never at 12:42 PM on May 20, 2016


    Ha. My shitty boyfriend in the 80's had a waterbed (thanks for the long forgotten memories MeFi/not) and he had two 8 foot boa constrictors. Those snakes loved the warm waterbed and slept with us all the time. I am kinda screaming inside right now. Not because of the snakes...
    posted by futz at 5:18 PM on May 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Ah man, I definitely have an ex who had a waterbed in his parents' basement. I guess a lot of people probably have an ex who had a waterbed in their parents' basement. I don't have much of a story to tell about it beyond that. It was nice, I guess.

    I do recall on at least one occasion staying there sleeping while he went to work. This was before I had a cellphone, if I recall correctly, and I eventually got bored lying on the waterbed in the dark and tried to add my AIM account to his Trillian and ended up somehow merging our AIM accounts' buddy lists, which was super fun to untangle.

    RIP waterbeds and AOL Instant Messenger.
    posted by limeonaire at 5:44 PM on May 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Trillian was brillant, man those were the days. One chat client to unite them all.

    Waterbed Snakes sound like the worst.
    posted by notyou at 7:02 PM on May 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


    I'm not afraid of snakes but not even some House on Haunted Hill money-sleep-dare could get me to sleep in the snakey waterbed. Hell no.
    posted by uncleozzy at 7:07 PM on May 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


    They mostly nestled in the edges of the bed between the big blobby bag of water and the frame. looking back I dunno what I was thinking. they were huge but harmless really. as i keep typing none of this makes sense in a sane world but neither did the yucky boyfriend. :/
    posted by futz at 7:20 PM on May 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


    8 foot boa constrictors. Those snakes loved the warm waterbed and slept with us all the time. I am kinda screaming inside right now.

    I might be screaming on the outside.
    posted by SpacemanStix at 8:50 PM on May 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


    rhizome, did the cop have a cop mustache or a Johnny Waterbed mustache? (or are those somehow basically the same thing?)

    It was his daughter's waterbed and she did not have much of a mustache. He on the other hand looked more like Bill Bradley, and even though he rode a motorcycle, no mustache. Sorry, no mustache content! Waterbeds were pretty normal in my suburbs.

    I did shave my 6mo beard today, momentarily leaving a mustache in honor of this thread. No waterbed though. Time is like a flat circle.
    posted by rhizome at 1:09 AM on May 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


    So when I was a kid, no-one had change tables for babies, everyone just changed their kids' nappies on the bed. And my mum was in the habit of jamming the nappy-pins into the bed to keep them handy. So you can probably imagine what happened when she changed my brother on my aunt's brand new water bed....
    posted by girlgenius at 2:49 AM on May 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


    When I was about 12 my parents bought me a waterbed. I'm still not sure why. It was fun at first, but after about a year or so I noticed a real problem--sometimes, in the middle of the night, I would awaken because my arm had fallen asleep.

    I don't mean my arm had pins and needles, I mean my arm was cold and dead-feeling. I literally couldn't move it. I'd roll over on my other side and slowly and painfully my arm would come back to life. Waterbeds allow your arm to get trapped under you as you sleep but you don't notice it falling asleep as you would with a normal bed. It was pretty terrible.

    You had to keep the heating element on, or remember to turn it on a good hour before bed. Not doing so made falling asleep a cold prospect.

    After about 6 or 7 years of the waterbed, it was definitely starting to show some signs of wear. One night I woke up in the middle of the night and my sheets were all wet. Oh shit did I wet the bed?? At at 18?? No, the mattress finally wore down enough that it poked a hole and leaked. Luckily it wasn't a terribly big hole so it didn't get on the floor. I put the sheets in the laundry, changed clothes, then went to the living room and slept on the couch. This happened to coincide with my first forays with drinking (and subsequently being called out by my parents). My dad woke me up the next day, uncharacteristically angry at me. Before I could even talk about the waterbed leak, he accused me of being drunk and puking in my bed, then putting the sheets in the laundry for my mother to wash. I had a good laugh and he was appropriately embarrassed when I told him the truth.

    After that we got rid of the waterbed and I have never missed it a day. There are some models that have inner baffles that really cut down on the wave motion, I would be curious about using one of those, but otherwise, let the waterbed be dead.
    posted by zardoz at 4:31 AM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


    There's nothing to hold you steady so you both just sort of ride the waves together. Any time you try to reposition yourself the whole thing turns into a wave pool and you fall over and your night of sexytimes is ruined until you decide to move to the floor so you can have a solid surface to do your business on.

    Someone gave me a bag-of-water waterbed when I was in my 20s. Waterbeds are freaking awesome and you try to have sex ASAP and then it transforms from a waterbed into an albatross because a free waterbed is still an enormous PITA to unfill and a new bed costs money and you just gave away your perfectly fine bed for a no-sex-ever bed.

    Add waterbeds to the "Sex things from the 70s that seemed like a good idea but it was probably just the coke" list.

    I might be screaming on the outside.
    posted by SpacemanStix


    I can't hear you.
    posted by Room 641-A at 6:11 AM on May 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Waterbeds are to the 70s and 80s as memoryfoam is to... well, today.
    posted by DarlingBri at 9:08 AM on May 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I've been on waterbeds and they are terrible and give you dreams of drowning.
    posted by turbid dahlia at 3:32 PM on May 22, 2016


    futz, I need to know so much more about this. How did you approve this idea when you were first sleeping over? Were you just so high on "new boyfriend vibes" that you were like, "sure, snake in the bed! I'm totally down with that because I'm a cool girlfriend!"
    I feel like this might be the craziest thing I've ever heard, and reading it first thing on a Monday morning has pretty much broken my brain.
    posted by aabbbiee at 7:29 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


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