A friend’s 2-year-old granddaughter was staying with her when my friend got out her iron to do some ironing.
“What’s that?” the little girl asked.
“It’s an iron,” my friend said.
The little girl studied it and then asked her grandma to put the iron away because it was “scary.”
Irons are scary. Every time I see an iron, I want to run in the opposite direction. Ironing is my least favorite task — it vies for last place at the domestic fun park, along with dusting.
How many people iron anymore? Clearly my friend’s daughter doesn’t. I know one of our daughters irons because her ironing board is always up. Come to think of it, she may just use the ironing board to hold clothes that need to be folded.
Whenever I knew my mother was coming to visit, I’d let the ironing accumulate for, well, let’s just say a long time. I was shameless. She’d be having a cup of coffee at the kitchen table and say, “So, do you have any ironing that needs to be done?”
“Let me check,” I’d say.
Then I’d open the door to the laundry and two full baskets of ironing would topple out. I’d feign surprise, and then I’d have the ironing board set up with the iron ready to go in under 10 seconds. It was a good shtick, and she knew it was a shtick, but she played along. I don’t think she liked to iron either; she just liked seeing a job completed.
I learned to iron from my three great-aunts who always washed on Mondays and ironed on Tuesdays. They ironed in the basement where it was cool. They let me iron their fancy handkerchiefs with delicate flowers and pillowcases with crocheted trim.
My friend says she’s never ironed a pillowcase.
If that’s the case, I tell my friend, you’ve never felt luxury.
Most people take permanent press fabrics and wrinkle-free everything as reason to stash the iron at the back of a closet and leave it there.
It’s a temptation, but I still iron pillowcases on occasion. And I still press handkerchiefs, too. I grew up when a well-pressed handkerchief was something every well-groomed man carried in his back pocket.
My daughters tell me men don’t carry handkerchiefs anymore. They need to watch some old Cary Grant movies.
Who knows, they might even see Doris Day ironing.