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 Soft but immutable, ready but inobtrusive--it is the silent servant of the bachelor abode.

"In Praise of the Murphy Bed"

by Byron Worth



Vol. 1 No. 11, February 1957

    IF ALL THE aids to seduction there are in a bachelor's arsenal, one of the most valuable, and at the same time, the most over looked, misunderstood and ill-regarded, is nothing less than the Murphy Bed.
    Right. Springs, creaks, clanking of chains and bolts, the Murphy Bed is, next to a lone girl on a barstool, the bachelor's best friend.
    Some men talk of wine, of flowers, of phonograph records, of a full-nelson. Some men insist that nothing is so helpful in hoisting a hoyden into the hay as a home-cooked meal followed by a flaming desert.
    And while it is true, all of these things are helpful, they are not decisive. Too much is left to chance. Wine, for example, while it is essentially a poetic pump-primer, is often more trouble than it is worth. Some times the cork won't come out. You tug and tug, ending up red in the face and covered with chagrin. Or you tug and tug and the cork does come out, leaving you red in the face and covered with wine. In either case, you look ridiculous. You'd have done better opening a can of beer.
    Flowers are equally unpredictable. There are three kinds of flowers; the kind the girl puts in a vase and forgets about; the kind she tucks in her bodice and won't allow to be crushed, and finally, the kind girls nibble. If there is anything less romantic than a girl nibbling a gardenia petal it is the expression on a guy's face when he realizes that the two bucks he spent on the poesy might just as well have been fed to a goat. Flowers? Baaah!
    As for phonograph records. Breathes there a man with soul so dead who doesn't remember the last time the record changer got stuck just at the wrong moment? There's no use wondering why record changers do this. Simply accept it as a fact. It is a mistake to place your fate in the hands of a willful machine. Nine times out of ten the machine will louse you up--whether deliberately or not, does not matter.
    Without carrying this analysis further, it should be clear that all the aforementioned aids to seduction are fraught with hazard. Some are hazard with fraught.
    The point is, they are merely aids, stepping stones. Anyone of these stepping stones can overturn, leaving you with a sore ankle, a ruffled temper and egg on your face. When the egg in question happens to be your own omelet, whipped up at midnight by candlelight, you would be well-advised to change your method.
    And this is where Mr. Murphy's Bed comes in. The most important thing about the Murphy Bed is that there are so many of them. According to a recent guess made by the author, it is reliably estimated that more bachelor apartments contain more Murphy Beds than any other kind of tuck-away sleeping gadget. The reason for that is that the Murphy Bed has been around longer.
    Yet, even though there are Murphy beds the length and breadth of the nation, and even though they have been around since the days of Mrs. O'Leary's cow, they have never, except in low vaudeville skits, ever received the attention they deserve. Incidentally, as any Chicagoan knows, the reason that Mrs. O'Leary's cow was able to kick over a lantern which ignited the hay that fired the barn that burned Chicago down, was that Mrs. O'Leary was in a Murphy Bed. Where else?
    For the benefit of late-comers to man's estate, young tads who aren't quite sure what a Murphy Bed is, let it be understood that: a Murphy Bed is attached to a wall and so hinged and springed that, it can be folded vertically against the wall when not in use. Anyone with an ounce of courage and a bit of muscle can lower it at will. When lowered to the horizontal position it makes a fine, firm sleeping gadget. So firm, in fact, that some sports have been known to sew pockets on the sides and use their Murphy Beds for snooker. What's snooker? Well...oh, the hell with it.
    The thing about a Murphy Bed that makes it so different is that it is semper paratus. That is Latin for always prepared, and is a motto adopted by the Coast Guard, shortstops and traveling salesmen.
    The bed is there, ready. All you have to do is pull it down. But more important, it is subtle. You don't see it until you need it. Above all, she doesn't see it. When she does, it is too late. You will have seen to that. Repeat: you will have seen to that.
    In short, this wonderful contraption functions as a combined bear trap, dead-fall and guillotine. On entering your apartment, the dear thing will quickly case the place and find nothing more ominous than a little old tufty couch.
    No danger there, she says to herself. She can let herself go, comforted by the thought that, at a certain point the geometry of the couch will bring the proceedings to a halt. At that point, she will say, "George, my spine is six degrees west of the rhumb line and I've got to get up early so's I can go to the chiropractor before work in the morning. Nighty night." And she waltzes out the door.
    Not if you've got a Murphy Bed.
    What you do, you leap to the closet door with as much agility as you can muster at that hour of the morning, and with a masterful swoop, you bring down the Murphy Bed. It's more than lowering the boom; it's like the Marines have landed.
    For one thing, it cuts off her escape route. There's something about a great big bed suddenly springing into the middle of a room where there was no bed before, that addles the canniest of women. She can only sit there, dimwitted and stunned, contemplating her own surrender.
    And that, of course, is where you take over. Be tender. But take over. Pick her up. It's the quickest way, the most manly, and as we said at the outset, it's decisive.
    There is one more attribute of the Murphy Bed shared by no other mechanical sack. It separates the men from the boys, the thinkers from the do-ers. It also separates women from their inhibitions. Nobody is quite sure of the explanation for this but it probably has something to do with symbolism. This great white pad, appearing mysteriously from nowhere, is as emphatic and undeniable as a spoken command. Even Walter Mitty could be a Don Juan with a Murphy Bed.
    As for the woman, troubled as she is by her inner battle--"I'd sure like to vs. I shouldn't oughtta"--the Murphy Bed provides a happy solution. Down comes the boom; the past is separated from the present, the future looks rosy. What's more, it looks a sight more comfortable than that rickety little couch. So, what the hell.
    Only one thing more need be observed. It does happen, not often, but it does happen, that a guy will find himself involved with a woman who is Murphy Bed-proof. Maybe she's been through the routine before. May be she won medals in the broad jump. In either case, you will need one other little aid to seduction that Mr. Murphy always kept close to his bed. In his quaint fashion, he used to call it a shillelagh and you'll find it a very handy thing, indeed.

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