Friday, September 21, 2007

Iron maidens

Among the many just-over-the-top amenities at my Fancy Gym: an iron and ironing board in the ladies' locker room, tucked away in a handy cabinet. It's only a little surprising that they don't also provide a lackey to do the pressing; you still have to wield the appliance your own self. (Should you prefer, of course, they also offer drycleaning drop-off and pick-up services.)

It gets reasonably steady use, even occasionally by me, when something emerges from the dryer or my duffel bag just a bit too wadded to cram my body into. But I suspect that "ironing," generally, is slipping off into the realm of rotary phones and Conestoga wagons. With our miracle wrinkle-free blend fabrics, not to mention the fashion sensibilities of the tech industry in which I find myself, where Shirt + Pants = Done! ...well, who does that any more? Who has the time, really?

When I was a kid, my mom ironed and ironed and ironed. It seemed she always had a monstrous pending pile of linen tops and cotton peasant blouses and other earthy, natural 70s fabrics, teetering on the laundry-room shelf. Mom would actually organize what she called ironing parties: she'd throw the clothes and us kids and a huge tangle of wire hangers and the ironing board into the car and drive us over to Cookie's. At the time, she drove a Chevy Manza hatchback. The ironing board perched in the driver's-side rear seat and angled across the car to butt against the front passenger window. Sis or I would wrangle for the coveted shotgun position nonetheless, but if the ironing board was in there, you had to tilt your head to the side for the whole trip. This was in the days before safety had been invented, when we never wore seatbelts or bike helmets or had the least lick of common sense between us, so: not a problem. We'd tool over to Cookie's and work out our neck cramps while Cookie and Mom set up their boards side-by-side in front of Guiding Light or One Life to Live or whatever, and they would iron for hours, together. HOURS.

Really the most shocking element of this, now, is not the ironing, or the fact that Cookie hosted because she had not yet learned to drive, at 30; it's the fact that my mother at one time willingly planted herself in front of soap operas.

Anyway. So for some reason the random ladies in the locker room today were chatting about the ironing board and its corresponding lost art, or the art that we pretty much avoid like the plague. One woman's daughter had received a secondhand dollhouse from a friend, and among its furnishings was a wee ironing board that she held up to her mother in bewilderment: "Mommy, what IS this?"

"Honey, that is a TABLE!" her mother informed her cheerily. She checked back in later to find the doll family, sitting down to dinner 'round the old ironing board.

Right on, little sister, right on!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why I resubscribed to Entertainment Weekly

Charo, quoted in a 30th-anniversary retrospective on The Love Boat: "'Cuchi-cuchi' showed me the way to the bank. That bullshit make me rich."

Or as I like to call it, "Monday"

Woo woo, represent: September 16-22 is "Unmarried and Single Americans Week." According to the Seattle Times, "This week provides an opportunity for the unmarried to celebrate their spouse-free lifestyles and denounce the stigmas surrounding single people." I don't know how well I've done my part, considering: after a brief stop at the natural pet-foods store for kitty litter, I came home, put on my red sweatpants that make me look like Santa, and took the finishing swipes out of a pint of Half-Baked, while planted in front of Fox's season premiere night. Seriously, why haven't I been snapped up? Line forms to the left, gentlemen!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Long in the tooth

Here is a fun fact--okay, actually a dull fact--you probably don't know about me: I have been going to the same dentist my entire life. For 34 years, Dr. Morton the Younger has been rooting around in my mouth twice annually. It's a family affair: his father, Dr. Morton the Elder, tended our mom's teeth from the time she was about 12 until his retirement in the early 1990s. Dr. Morton the Younger inherited a lot of his father's schtick, such as holding the little water-squirty thing further...and further...and further from your mouth. "Don't move," he'd say mildly, spritzing your ivories from three or four feet overhead, just to see if he could make the shot.

Thirty-four years. I have vague memories of sitting on the floor of the exam room, coloring, waiting my turn while Sis was in the chair. Dr. Morton is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a geezer...but I'm wondering now if he simply ran directly from his commencement ceremony to my first appointment: yanking off his mortarboard and peering into my toddler mouth. Was the ink even dry on his diploma?

Several years ago, Dr. Morton's office was switching to a new filing system; during my appointment, they had my entire old file, all the old records, there in the room. I mentioned the unusual longevity of my dentistry arrangements, and the hygienist began flipping through the file. "Oh, my GOD," she blurted suddenly.


"Oh, it's just...well, you had your first appointment in 1973. Cleaning, fluoride, and exam..." she said, hesitating, her voice still hushed with awe.


"It cost eleven dollars!"

I may have harbored a bit of a crush on Dr. Morton during my prepubescent years. This is not as odd as it might sound, because for decades now he has been doling out slightly oddball compliments, every six months like clockwork: "Beautiful teeth!" he'll exclaim, in conclusion. "Gorgeous gums!" I don't know. I didn't get a lot of flattery from male authority figures in my youth (and don't, pretty much, in my present middle-youth). So I kind of relish the praise when it comes. I cling to it, a little. Once, after the "gorgeous gums" incident I believe, I remarked brightly "That's what every girl longs to hear!" and Dr. Morton became flustered. Heh. On the other hand, I still remember a visit, years past now, where it was plain that Dr. Morton was having a lousy day and was crabby as hell and, after a cursory exam, he didn't say it. He stomped out of the office without a backward glance and I have to tell you, I was a little hurt. For a couple of days.

"Pretty teeth! Pretty gums!" he exclaimed to me, after this morning's exam. It was a happy relief. Secretly, I do still long to hear it.

I stopped to say goodbye to Barb the receptionist on the way out. She has likewise been a fixture there for an eternity; this summer, Sis discovered that Barb lives something like three blocks away. She came to Sis's housewarming party.

"It was nice to see you on the outside, too!" she told me today.

"Yes! You look different, holding a beer," I told her. "And not in a little box."--indicating the sliding window that enclosed her little countertop and reception area.