I did something this morning that I have never attempted to do in my entire near-37 years of existence: I ironed a shirt. Or at least I made an attempt to iron a shirt.
That loud gasping sound followed by a loud ‘clunk’ you just heard is nothing to be too concerned about. Just members of my family passing out from the shock of it all.
Now I realize that for most people, including many men, ironing shirts is probably no big deal, but for me it’s been a task I’ve worked very hard at avoiding over the years. It’s not that I have the traditional male aversion to housework as I try to do my part in keeping the laundry clean, the dishes washed, and am the only person you’re likely to find driving the vacuum cleaner in my home, but ironing clothing has always held the same pointless status in my mind as making my bed. I’ve never understood the point of making my bed as I’m just going to mess it up again in about 17 hours or so.
Ironing is only slightly less pointless in that many folks think wrinkled clothing looks bad and if you’re going out in public and give a damn what others think about how you dress then ironing isn’t completely without merit, but it seems like an awful lot of work for something that’s just going to end up wrinkled again. Combine this with the fact that there are plenty of clothes you can buy that never require ironing and it becomes obvious (to me at least) that what you should be doing is buying the stuff you don’t need to iron and using the time you would have spent ironing to find a cure for cancer or finally make it past level 32 in that damned Wart Hog game.
So for years I’ve made a point of buying clothes that don’t require ironing before you wear them and the task of ironing is at least partially responsible for my aversion to dress clothes in general for the simple reason that I didn’t think it would be fair to expect anyone else to do my ironing for me. It was almost an ideological stance with me much the same way that some people make an issue out of not buying Japanese automobiles. Rational or not, I was proud of my anti-ironing stance and the only time I ever picked up an iron was to hand it to someone else before mocking them mercilessly for wasting time on a pointless pursuit. The closest I’ve ever come to ironing is to toss a severely wrinkled shirt into the dryer along with a damp rag for ten minutes to see if it wouldn’t smooth things out a bit.
By now you’re probably wondering what could possibly have brought me to finally succumbing to using an iron for its intended purpose this morning. The truth is that the last couple of times I got some new shirts they were purchased by my wife because she happened to be someplace where a sale was going on and I needed them due to a change in dress policy at my job. She doesn’t have any sort of ideological problem with ironing and has never really understood my problem with it. She’s the sort of person who will often iron clothing that normally doesn’t require ironing if she thinks it looks too wrinkled and anytime I try to wear a shirt that exceeds her “wrinkle threshold” I get the same sort of reproachful look you’d give a five year old who just announced he wanted to go to school in his Spider-Man Underoos because they look cool. All of my non-iron shirts either didn’t match my pants enough to get away with or were in the laundry and all I had left was a bunch of shirts that wrinkle every time you wash them that Anne hadn’t gotten around to ironing as of yet. On top of that one of my coworkers is also a long-time friend and he too will often give me a hard time if I show up with a shirt that looks like it was wadded into a ball for several hours prior to my donning it. Finally I’m no longer working as a PC Support Technician, but as a Regional Zone Planner which means I go to a lot of meetings with lots of other iron-obsessed people that I probably need to have take me seriously and most of them won’t if I’m the Amazing Wrinkle Man. As a rule, you can be Amazing Wrinkle Man as a PC technician and no one will care when their PC has just died in the middle of a big project because they need your skills and they know you have them in spades which probably explains why you don’t know how to iron your shirt. People in meetings don’t necessarily need me for anything of any importance, probably aren’t aware that I’m even present if I don’t breathe too loudly, so the standard level of worship I normally receive in my job is no longer a perk I can count on to make up for my lack of desire to manipulate an iron.
And so this is how I came to find myself standing in front of the ironing board this morning attempting a task I swore I’d eat my own foot before ever undertaking in my youth. Of course I use to say the same thing about ever drinking diet pop and that’s the only kind of pop I drink anymore. There’s something about getting older that breaks down all those once seemingly indestructible principles I clung to in my youth. I don’t think I’m in any danger of becoming iron-obsessed anytime soon, but in an emergency I can manage to swipe one across my shirts if I really have to.