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!

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