I stopped ironing clothes sometime in 1973 when Laugh-In went off the air. It was the only TV program – comedy or otherwise – that was sufficiently engaging and humorous to dampen the dreariness of ironing. I kept a basket of clothes that needed ironing in the closet, and when Laugh-In came on, I would take the basket out of the closet, set up the ironing board in front of the TV, spray some water on the rumpled clothes and iron until the program was over. When Laugh-In went off the air, I stopped taking the basket out of the closet every week. When the basket had been in the closet for a year and the wrinkled clothes in it were not worn all that time, I took those clothes to the Good Will. Thank heavens polyester was widely available by then. And I gave the iron to my eldest daughter when she went off to college.
I had never much liked ironing; I always managed to iron a few wrinkles into shirts because they were so irregular and wouldn’t lie flat on the ironing board. But the job became more onerous after I married, and there were more than twice as many clothes to iron as before. Moreover, my husband initially insisted that I iron his underwear (undershirts and underpants) as well as his outer garments. “Do you iron your underwear?” “Yes.” “You’re crazy.” “My mother always ironed my underwear.” “Well she’s crazy too.” Deeply irritated silence.
That was our first argument. The week before we were to be married. Too late to change arrangements. However, after a couple of months, I stopped ironing the underwear, and, if I carefully folded and patted them before putting them away, my husband didn’t notice the difference. He was annoyed at my deception when I asked if he’d noticed, but he couldn’t complain much if he hadn't seen the difference. Besides, I was a full-time student in a difficult curriculum at that time, as well as pregnant and chronically exhausted.
A couple of years later, I was standing one evening at the ironing board after having worked a full day in a lab, come home and fixed dinner, done the dishes, bathed our daughter, and put her to bed. He was relaxing on the couch watching TV, his arms behind his head. I had the strongest urge to throw the iron through the TV set, although I never thought of throwing it at his head. But the marriage was in trouble.
For many years (later), I was a single mom with two young children at home. One year, we had a foreign exchange student who had come from a fairly wealthy European family and his parents had a maid. His clothes were meant to be ironed, and he was amazed when I told him I didn’t own an iron and didn’t do ironing. He was annoyed that he had to do his laundry and try to pat his clothes flat when they came out of the dryer. And he was irritated when he had to go to school wearing wrinkled shirts. Early that fall, for his birthday, I bought him an iron, an ironing board, and three polyester shirts. And I taught him to iron, which he did, but only for special occasions. After he started ironing his own shirts, he went to school in wrinkled shirts without complaint.
I still don’t iron and won’t unless Laugh-In comes back on TV. Saturday Night Live is just too late just for ironing. Anyway, I believe I’ve forgotten how.