Saturday, August 12, 2017

Wrong Side

I stuck the key card into the lock, and pushed the door open to find yet another hotel room, my third in as many weeks. It wasn't as well-appointed as the one in Las Vegas, nor as spacious as the one in Kansas City. But it was certainly big enough, containing a couch and a desk along with the usual other stuff. All in all, it was fine. I like to think that as a traveler I'm pretty easy: give me a clean place and hot water in the morning, and I'm basically happy.

Then I saw the bed. It was crisply made and had plenty of pillows. And it was a king, more than ample for the single me that would be spending two nights. No, the problem wasn't the furniture itself, but rather how it was placed. The head was against the wall to my right, with the desk and couch to my left and bathroom behind me. As it sat, the other side was within a foot or so of the opposite wall. The obvious thing was to sleep on this side, the left side, closest to all that was needed.

But I sleep on the right.

Ever since my wife and I have been married, my piece of real estate in our bedroom has been on the right. Like most people, my side is my side. I would no sooner climb in and curl up on hers than I would use her toothbrush. I mean, I suppose I could do it, but it would feel weird, like driving on the wrong side of the road.

And so when I travel I sleep on the right. No one makes me: I could sleep on the right or left or even diagonal. But it would be disconcerting. The right is my home turf. However, in this particular room in this particular city it probably didn't make a lot of sense. I would have to shimmy past the dresser at the foot, and squeeze in against the far wall to get in or out. In the middle of the night, if I wanted to go the bathroom, I would have to circumnavigate the entire mattress and hope I didn't slam my toes into unfamiliar furniture, a journey Francis Drake himself would find daunting.

Let me be clear: I sleep on that side because, well, I sleep on that side. It's not like I really planned it. Research is hard to come by, but what little there is suggests that a variety of factors come into play when couples stake out their turf. These include who needs to be closest to the bathroom, or who gets up for child care, or even security, as the person closest to the door can protect the other (traditionally this would be the male, but then again he's likely to be snoring loudly and wouldn't hear an intruder until awoken by his wife's screams). But there are also factors such as one side being warmer or brighter or softer. Bottom line: no one knows why one side is the wrong side and one side is the right side.

And then there's the UK study done by mattress maker Sealy that says that those who get out of bed on the left are more likely to be in a better mood that those on the right. According to a survey of 1000 adults, lefties were found to have more friends and enjoy their job by a small margin over their mates. Meanwhile those on the other side of the pillow admitted to preferring their own company, being pessimistic, and generally being in a bad mood in the morning. Then again, about a third preferred to sleep alone, with almost half attempting to escape snoring, and a fifth simply admitting they prefer to have the bed to themselves.

But back to my latest hotel room. At bedtime, I gave in to expediency and crawled in on the left. I admit it took me a bit to figure out how the covers worked. But eventually I fell asleep and made it through the night. And the following day I made a new friend and had a good day at work. So maybe there's something to it after all, and left is indeed right. But in our house that's her side, and possession is 9/10's of the law. I have a feeling my future is indeed right.


Marc Wollin of Bedford sleeps on his side on his side. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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