Guilty Pleasure or Drudgery?


I was talking to my Mom a week or so ago, and we somehow got onto the subject of ironing. I admitted to her that I iron pillowcases and parts of the top sheet…the part that shows anyway. She was incredulous…maybe even aghast.
Why on earth do you do that?”, she asked…and I expected the question. Most people would say the same thing.
This ironing of linens, a creation of labor really, is something so unnecessary, so oddball, that there is I think, a secret society of ironing freaks out there. Like me.
Why do I iron? Partly it is frugal..I’d rather iron one of my shirts (that the cleaners insist on treating like a dry cleaning item, so that they charge me $3.99 instead of the $.99 charge a man’s shirt gets), rather than pay the 4 bucks. There’s some sanity in that.
What is the reason for the ironed sheets? Let me assure you I did not grow up with ironed sheets. Before we had a clothes dryer, we spent quality time together, my sisters and I, hanging sheets and everything else from the laundry, on long iron clothes lines, which had to be wiped off before each use, as they might have a little rust on them.
This necessary exercise was done in all sorts of weather, so even if it was really cold, you hung the wet laundry with frozen fingers, and sheets were a special challenge. And the sheets almost had a crunch to them when you took them down.
As my Mom had to iron almost everything we wore, in the days before permanent press,the sheets had about as much chance of being ironed as I had of sleeping late on a Sunday. Iron the sheets? Fat chance.
And while I love the feeling and the look of ironed sheets…they are so lovely in their smoothness, it’s more than that. I find ironing, relaxing and soothing somehow.
I found an article in The Independent, written by a man named Simon Carr(who is clearly part of my secret society), and his words capture it all perfectly.
The iron is hot and glides along on a cushion of high-pressure steam. It leaves behind an advertisement for domestic work. The cloth is pristine. It’s what immaculate means. And it smells nice. That’s an important thing about life, it doesn’t always smell as pleasant as it should. Yes, ironing restores the soul, and sometimes a little more. As it smooths the outside, so it helps smooth the inside – and that’s something we all need as time goes on. “
I think I would have made a fine upstairs maid, in another age and another day.
Very fine ideed.

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