John Mayer is the kind of musician that a guy like me is supposed to hate — but I don’t know exactly why. It’s just this impression, received from other men who came of age in the hipster aughts, that he’s corny, cringe and fundamentally uncool. “Your Body Is a Wonderland” is the one song I’d recognize, and while I don’t care for it, I’m also not haunted by the tune wherever I go.
Beyond the vaguest idea of Mayer’s guitar style and songwriting, the second point I have is the infamous 2010 Playboy interview in which he used the N-word and, while discussing his preferences in dating, referred to his dick as a “white supremacist.” He did apologize after the whole internet yelled at him, so we don’t have to dwell on that. Just always fun to bring up.
As of March 2022, however, I’ve learned a third thing about John Mayer. Currently in his mid-40s, he’s single, hates when people ask him about his romantic prospects and has a preferred way of sleeping alone: alongside a “row of pillows” arranged on the left side of his bed. He revealed as much in some extended patter at a Las Vegas concert earlier this month.
This is… extraordinary. Do I actually relate to John Mayer? At no time in the past two decades would I have imagined it. Ordinarily, I sleep parallel to my partner, but when she’s out of town, or I’m traveling by myself, I need a pillow at my side to retain overall mattress balance. I have woken up spooning the pillow used this way, as though unconsciously identifying it as a living body next to me. When people talk about starfishing in the middle of the bed as they settle in for the night, I am horrified. I insist on lying off-center so I can reach my phone the minute I wake up in the morning, or in case I have to leap into action because I heard the cat knock something over in the living room. And I can’t leave the other half of the bed empty. That’s plain anarchy.
Really, the side pillows aren’t just a bulwark against loneliness, or a marker of where we’d like another person to be. They give us the comfort of abundance and the knowledge that we, by ourselves, are enough — as long as we recognize the fullness of life. Another pillow is there for the taking if we want it. Why go without? Mayer sounds slightly bitter when he says that his stack of pillows “doesn’t resent or hate me or bring me down,” but it’s true that you’re never going to have a disagreement with a cloth sack of down feathers.
Kudos to him for the maturity to stick with his best option at this moment. As for me, I’m asking my girlfriend to sleep on the couch tonight so I can cuddle some pillows. Even if she leaves for good, I’ll be resting easy.