Opinions, Column, Featured Column

Mattress Firm’s Name Is Officially Not a Pun

Some students procrastinate on their homework by going to parties. Others play video games. A few—the nerds—even actually do their assignments. As much as I’d like to translate that Farsi article on Azerbaijan’s national carpet museum that’s been sitting in my backpack for two weeks, I have bigger priorities: my investigation of whether Mattress Firm’s name is a pun.

As detailed in my poorly titled last column, I have been contacting Mattress Firm employees to ascertain the truth. To clarify, Mattress Firm’s name would be a pun if firm referred both to the type of business (e.g. a law firm) and the type of mattress (e.g. a firm mattress, as opposed to the mattresses people actually sleep on).

My initial investigation proved less successful than I had hoped. I dealt with a revolving door of customer-service representatives who tried to sell me mattresses instead of answering my questions. “No thank you,” I told them. “I’m entirely content with the brick-like mattress that came with my room at Boston College. It doesn’t get any firmer than that.”

I decided I’d have to go corporate if I wanted to live up to the legacy of Velma Dinkley, AKA “Scooby-Doo bae,” and reach the executives at BEDquarters―the name of Mattress Firm’s villainous lair in Texas, the most evil state in the remnants of the Confederacy. In other words, I started adding random Mattress Firm employees on LinkedIn.

One such employee, who shall remain unnamed to protect the identities of my sources and legal concerns and whatnot, actually responded to my desperate requests to be connected to a Mattress Firm spokesperson. She told me she had read my first column and referred me to “G’Nai Blakemore,” Senior Manager of Public Relations. Once I Googled the so-called “Blakemore,” I discovered Mattress Firm had in fact had a list of its press contacts online the entire time.

I had somehow missed this list the first time around. Scooby-Doo bae would have been disappointed in me. That night, I cried under the gaze of my Velma poster as I changed into my Justin Trudeau pajamas. At least Justin always has my back.

I messaged this so-called “Blakemore” as well as Senior Vice President of Customer Experience “Sunni Goodman” and every other email address I could find on that page before waiting a week for a response. A few weird things happened in the interim:

  1. Mattress Firm’s customer-service email address, which had informed me in an auto-reply that it would take 24 hours to respond, replied a week late.
  2. I went with my coconspirator Katie “Katherine” Lamirato to the Mattress Firm franchise closest to BC, where I had to explain to the manager the definition of the word pun.
  3. Two obscure Mattress Firm employees added me on Facebook to inform me they had read my first column, indicating word of my investigation was spreading. One told me she didn’t think the company’s name was a pun, echoing the claims of every other employee. She added that my column was making the rounds in Mattress Firm’s internal emails, sparking hashtags such as #punsarelife and #peopleaskingforfirmmattressesatmattressfirmwhichsellsfirmmattresses.

All the while, I still hadn’t heard back from the So-Called “Blakemore,” the only Mattress Firm employee who could tell me whether her employer’s name was a pun. I had interviewed elite Iraqi generals and alleged ringleaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula before, but the Mattress Firm investigation was proving to be my most difficult and important journalistic endeavor yet.

Then, the So-Called “Blakemore” responded to my email.

“Much to the surprise of the public, Mattress Firm’s name is not a pun,” she told me. “Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines the term firm under the following classification: ‘the name or title under which a company transacts business.’ In the way we intended, firm aligns with the above definition. Not to be confused with the adjective of the same pronunciation and spelling firm, meaning having a solid, almost unyielding surface or structure. That’s not to say we don’t sell firm beds; we offer a variety of comfort levels, from extra firm to ultra-plush. We can assure you, fine friend, the only thing unyielding about us is our low prices.”

“In the bed-ginning [pun one],” continued the most condescending email I had ever received, “our founders started the ‘mattress store that could’ in the ‘city that could’ [Houston, the city that couldn’t]. Our story is one of hard work and big dreams of better sleep [pun two?]—a tale so tall that, of course, it had to happen in Texas [ew]. More than 30 years ago, Mattress Firm was created with one goal: provide sleep savings to the masses [communist]. And not much has changed today—except, of course, our size. We have grown from a single Mattress Firm store to more than 3,000 stores in 49 states and 10,000 employees. Also, the name has a certain ring to it [dubious]. It got your attention, didn’t it?”

I don’t know whether it bothered me more that she had used a dictionary against me, her “fine friend;” that she had turned part of the response into a marketing opportunity; or that she used the pun bed-ginning—mediocre at best—after spending an entire paragraph telling me that Mattress Firm wasn’t a pun.

“That’s not how human beings talk to other human beings,” my friend and occasional dance partner Mark “Nascar” Nasca told me.


In any case, I learned Mattress Firm’s name is officially not a pun, and this website, this guy on Reddit, and a bunch of people on Twitter are wrong. In other news, my entire life is a lie, but Velma would be proud nonetheless.

Someone please tell BuzzFeed about my investigation. I deserve recognition for my work.

My next investigation will follow the stories of the 2,000 plates missing from Lower and the Russian math school in Newton.

Featured Graphic by Anna Tierney / Graphics Editor

February 12, 2018