A Pressing Issue

August 29, 2019

Does ANYONE iron anymore?

I ask this because I honestly want to know why so many self-professed non-ironers always appear in public with attire that looks smooth as silk. What is their secret? I buy permanent press everything and still look like an unmade bed. I’ve tried throwing the clothes back into the dryer, but for me, they just come out HOT and wrinkled. It’s gotten to the point that there are several super-creased tops that I can’t wear in public anymore. Rather than press them, I now only wear them when I am home, my haven where no one cares how I look.

Once a year, I pull out the ironing board and set it up, determined to work my way through our cloth napkins prior to holiday feasts. But as the days go by, the empty, unused board becomes a repository for junk, including supermarket circulars and empty coffee mugs. By then, I would have to clear everything off the board and THEN iron, which is much too much to ask of myself. In the end, if my saintly husband doesn’t tackle the wrinkly tablecloth, I set the forks and knives on it anyway—and then make good use of the dining room dimmer switch. Our company may be groping in the dark for their wineglasses, but at least they can’t see the state of our table linens!

My mom ironed, though not nearly as much as her June Cleaver-esque 1950’s counterparts. She hated the chore, and did it quite poorly—communicating to her daughters that it was a totally miserable task. I remember Mom watching Virginia Graham’s “Girl Talk” on TV while ironing away, which was her distraction. But Dad’s duds were usually festooned with scorch marks, because Suzy Homemaker got a bit TOO distracted by her talk show companions. Then there were the multiple times Mom made Dad turn the car around after 20 miles on the road, swearing she’d forgotten to unplug the iron (she never had—though once or twice she’d left the teakettle whistling away in an empty house.)

My mother-in-law Leona ironed everything in sight, and didn’t seem to mind a bit. She even pressed the altar linens at church! Now mind you, she did hire Mrs. Ward to do her husband’s dress shirts, as did lots of her friends. Where are the ironing ladies of today, I wonder? I would gladly pay a tidy sum just to look fresh-pressed without any effort on my part. But I’m afraid “ironing lady” is no one’s career choice anymore, like milkmen and Fuller Brush persons. An exception was Margaret Thatcher (The Iron Lady)—but in her case, as I recall, the nickname didn’t refer to spiffing up baskets of laundry.

And so, as Thanksgiving nears, I am most grateful that we are again going to Brooklyn for dinner at Julie’s place. That gives me till Christmas before I have to face tackling the tablecloth again.

I’d better make sure that dimmer is still working.


    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

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