Archive for Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Ironing agony resurfaces

March 14, 2001

Ironing did not used to be my favorite thing to do. I was, at one point, obsessed with steaming the wrinkles from my clothing but as I've grown older and my "to do" lists are longer, ironing has fallen by the wayside. My wardrobe has benefited from "wrinkle free" slacks and shirts and I've learned to pull my shirts out of the dryer to hang-dry. Anymore the only time I will succumb to the ironing board is when my outfit looks like a piece of paper just pulled from the wastebasket of an author.

Recently I came to that point. I needed to pack for spring break, I needed some nice outfits for interviews, and my spring shorts had just unrolled from the balls I'd wadded up in November. I borrowed an iron and ironing board and filled a spray bottle full of water. At first glance I had about five shirts, three pairs of shorts, two slacks, and my lucky handkerchief. I set aside an entire afternoon to finish the task.

I did pretty well with the first shirt. It was a tee shirt and held no hidden seams or cuffs or pleats to iron around. Then came a pair of khakis. I'd left the pants in the dryer too long and the dryer had filled the pants with pockmarks and deep crevices so that the once handsome khakis were left looking like the face of a 90-year-old farmer. I ran the iron up and down each pant leg, pressing hard and moving the iron back and forth over the deepest cotton ravines. My efforts were in vain.

I lightly sprayed some water over the khakis and tried again. Steam rose and the wrinkles faded slightly. Tougher creases remained so I sprayed a little less sparingly. This worked. I continued to spray, iron, spray, iron, until my pants were presentable and my room felt like a sauna. Energized by a job well done, I put my nose to the grindstone and ironed garment after garment, with no break. I refilled the spray bottle three times, alternating sprays between the wrinkled clothes and my face. I felt like I was playing the final set of the world's longest clay court tennis match, my face blistering under the August sun, my feet sore with fatigue.

I continued ironing and spraying and finally I came to the last shirt, a button up blue and white oxford cloth. I served, the shirt returned, we volleyed back and forth pitting wrinkles against the steam. I finished the front, flipped to the back, ironed the collar, then the left sleeve. Using the last of my water, I steamed a classy crease down the sleeve. I ran to the bathroom and filled my water bottle, then screwed the spray head on and returned. I drenched the last sleeve, pressed the cuffs neatly, raised the limp shirt up and admired my victory.

I added the last trophy of an afternoon of elbow grease and mental toughness to the closet, next to the slacks and the other shirts. My closet had gone from pages of foiled intros crumpled into a trashcan to a stack of clean, flawless, paper that sat next to the typewriter, ready to wow the world. I hit the showers, thinking of my new wrinkle-free wardrobe. My shirts and slacks and spring shorts, which I would probably need a belt for now. I dropped at least a few pounds of perspiration during the match.

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