Iron(ing) Man!

Armadillo Dragon Column

I am Iron(ing) Man.

Da da dadada dudadudadudduddud dud dud dud*

For more of my life, my attitude toward ironing could be summed up like this: aaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhh run run run. Or something similar. Ironing was something that happened to other people as far as I was concerned.

If I had to wear a shirt that needed ironing, I’d probably lay it very, very flat and put it under my mattress. Sadly, no, I’m not just making that up. If I had something that had to be ironed (and by had I mean that if I didn’t look good I would get fired), well, that’s why we invented dry cleaners. Of course, I could only go to that well just a few times a month mostly because reporters get paid in job satisfaction (hah!) instead of money. 

Fortunately, being a stay-at-home dude doesn’t have a dress code. Or, if it does, most of the code consists of long tangents about the advisability of wearing a superhero-themed t-shirt to meet with teachers, or why it’s always a good idea to keep a change of clothing in the minivan. And a change of clothing for the kids as well.

And so, for many years, I was able to avoid the scourge of ironing. Like any golden age, I never knew it was a golden age while I was living in it.

Which brings us to the post-golden age. I recently was hit by a two-headed strike. I lost a lot of weight and went to work part time as a Title I Tutor at a local elementary school. (Relax, my position didn’t get refunded this year so I’ve safely escaped the school.) The latter meant that I needed to dress like a mature adult (as being able to pick out the adults from the kids while in the middle of a food fight is a good idea), and the former meant that I couldn’t wear my few remaining dress shirts without looking like I was playing in my dad’s closet.

The less said about the horrors of shopping for a new set of dress shirts the better. Suffice to say, I eventually ended up with some rather nice shirts. I wore them to work and found I actually enjoyed having people compliment me on the way I dressed. It was much nicer than being asked to stand in a different room and hear people be told I was just someone who had wandered in. The problem came when I began to get odd looks the secon and third times I wore a shirt.

Turns out, wrinkled shirts and pants aren’t considered the sign of a mature adult. I know, right? It came as a shock to me as well.

And I still couldn’t afford to pay the dry cleaner to take care of my shirts. Which meant it was time to learn how to iron.

The fact that I didn’t burn down the house or burn a hole in any of my shirts is a testament to the wonderfully sound design employed by modern manufacturers of irons and ironing boards. I am no expert in the use of the iron and the assorted lore, but I’ve found it’s easy enough to do a relatively good job. So easy, in fact, I’m thinking it might be something all men should learn at a point relatively early in their lives. Like being able to make at least one good meal, men should also be able to ensure they look as good as they want to look.

Because, and here’s the thing, I’ve found I actually like looking good. I mean, I’m not a fanatic about pants with a razor-sharp crease or anything like that, but it feels good to slide into an outfit that shows I take pride in how I’m perceived.

Which is the reason I’m writing this. See, I know how difficult it can be to even think about looking good when you’re taking care of at least one, possibly more, baby-type humans. It ain’t easy. However, I’m thinking it might actually be worth the effort.

Being the home-bound caregiver of a young kid can be a draining experience. There’s less interaction with adults your own age and cognitive level. It’s difficult to get away clean when you’re being hugged by a crawling stain. Those wonderful memories to which we all cling? They’re separated by a lot more memories we’re actively trying to repress.

Anything we can use to boost our spirits, I’m thinking is a great idea. Sure it’s fun to walk about in your pajamas or sweatpants for a couple of days, but the novelty wears off quite fast.

If you’re new to ironing, then get a couple of minutes to yourself and give it a try. If you already know how to iron, think about picking it up again.

Ironing is nobody’s idea of fun, but it’s got to be better than scrounging through friends’ couches, looking for the money to get your shirts back from the dry cleaners.

Footnotes and Eratta
* Cue Black Sabbath music intro