The first year in Hong Kong I slept on the floor.
My American queen mattress–while not ideal for small spaces–had nonetheless traveled 6,796 nautical miles. The frame, though, did not survive the trip.
One Saturday I strolled into a shop, hopeful.
“Hello,” I said, “I’m looking for a bed frame. Do you custom build?”
Not the same shop but a great name nonetheless.
“Yes,” said the sales fellow, a funky dresser with interesting glasses. “We can make one custom for you. Let me show you our book.”
We sat down and flipped through pages of same-looking frames. The local style is a simple platform, no footboard, short headboard, often white, low to the ground.
“This one is nice,” I said. “What’s the height underneath?”
“Can you make it 12?”
Sales guy looked puzzled. Maybe my English was not clear.
“I want it to be higher. Can you raise it from 8 inches to 12 inches?”
“No,” he said. “We cannot.”
My building hope stopped short. “You cannot?”
“But you said you custom build.”
No response. “Are you saying that you cannot make the bed frame higher?”
Very puzzling. Was there some structural reason a bed frame should not be 12” high? Surely not. At this moment, ungainly westerners were sleeping on much higher beds all over the world.
“Because it will not be comfortable.”
For whom? I wondered, ever more confused. “But I am asking for the bed to be higher.”
“No, I am sorry. That is not possible.”
Obviously I needed to supply my reason. “But I want to use underneath for storage. If it’s 12” high I can store suitcases.” I made a sliding motion over the photo demonstrating putting away a suitcase.
Sales guy studied the photo. “That would not be good.”
Baffled now, I pretended understanding. “Maybe. Although I have slept on beds that are high. For me, it is very comfortable. So can you custom make it this way? For me? Because I find it so comfortable?”
He shook his head.
“I will pay extra.”
“Sorry. We cannot. To sleep this high, it is not good for your health.”
It was time to give up. I had come to recognize the immovable Hong Kong argument, unchanging in the face of reason, science, preference, even profit.
“OK. I understand. Thank you for your time.”
I took the brochure and left to look for another frame another day.