When I was a kid there was no permanent press. You had to iron every thing. I used to cheat though, and just iron the sleeves and the collar of the blouse that went under  the jumper I wore to Catholic school. Since only the sleeves and the collar showed, what was the point of ironing the whole blouse?

On Saturdays my mother ironed. It was a whole freakin’ production. She’d sprinkle each garment to be ironed with water from a special sprinkler bottle, then roll each one up like a jelly roll and put it in the fridge in a plastic bag. Then she’d rig up the iron, attaching its cord to this thing like an antenna on a spring that kept the cord out of her way as she ironed.

She was big into spray starch too, so there was always a can of that at the ready. Then she’d turn on the TV and iron all afternoon until the fridge was empty of the clothes jelly rolls.

I liked heavy pound of the iron on the board, the smell of the steam, the chemically smell of the starch. The afternoon would drag on, as all the door knobs filled up with freshly pressed clothes.

Maybe that’s why I like to iron. It relaxes me. I smooth out my life along with the wrinkles, and as I work the nose of my Rowenta into the puckers and the creases at placket and cuff, it feels like deep therapy, the kind that requires a lot of tissues and even, sometimes, a pillow to cry into.

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