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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.