It smelled my fear.
I took a step closer, tentatively reaching our my hand toward it. Slowly. Slowly. Closer and closer.
It hissed, steam spraying from a previously hidden vent.
I jerked my hand back, barely controlling the urge to begin sucking on my fingers, dead certain they’d been parboiled by the vicious iron smirking on its board, so eager to take down a neophyte such as me.
I’ve begun to iron my clothing, you see. And, dudes. . . It is scary.
It wasn’t always this way. I mean, what’s the call for ironing when all you have are jeans, unnatural-fabric Hawaiian shirts, t-shirts, and the occasional polo shirt for when you’ve got to dress up?
Which, for the most part, was the entirety of my wardrobe through college and right up until I had to go out and buy a suit to interview at the various newspapers who would consider my application for an internship. So, of course, I went to the one place that was guaranteed to have a great suit: the Sears catalog.
Don’t look at me like that. I was young. And poor. And more than a little bit stupid.
Over the years, as I continued to have to go into work and didn’t win the lottery, I began to accumulate non-jean pants (nothing I’d call trousers, though), button-down dress(ish) shirts and many, many novelty ties (mostly with things like the molecular structure of caffeine, dinosaurs, wildlife and the like) (mostly because I figured if I had to wear a tie, I’d at least have one that would make me smile when I looked down). Things got worse, style wise, when I began staying home to raise the three young dudes, Sarcasmo, Zippy the Monkey Boy, and Hyper Lad.
Over the last couple of years, though, I’ve begun to not only purchase nicer clothing, but actually want to wear them when I didn’t have to do so. I think mostly it was due to my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Seen To Be Believed. She’s a sharp dresser and looks very, very nice most days. I think I got tired of being next to her and shoving into the faces of anyone who glanced our way that I married up in a big way.
I realized the extent of my sartorial change yesterday when I took several shirts and trousers out of the dryer, saw they were wrinkled and immediately began to iron them.
I mean, I didn’t even know how to iron. Anything. I thought about ignoring the wrinkles and putting the clothing away despite them, but just couldn’t do it.
Besides, I thought, how hard could ironing be. You just press a scalding-hot piece of metal that occasionally shoots out jets of steam onto an item of clothing. Eh. Dead simple.
Ironing is easy, was my thought.
Turns out, not so much, dudes.
I was right about one thing. Ironing is easy. Ironing well. . . That’s a lot harder than I thought it would be.
I can’t tell you the number of times I had to start over, resettling the shirt onto the ironing board so I could remove an appallingly large crease that I’d just pressed into the front of the shirt where there should be no crease. Or the times I made the collar stand up sideways.
And let’s really not talk about the number of scalded fingers I’m currently nursing. (It’s a significant non-zero number. Let’s leave it at that.)
Eventually, I had to just take a deep breath, let it out gently and realize that I didn’t have to get it perfect the first time. Or the second. Just take my time. Iron a little bit at a time and realize that no shirt is composed of infinite amounts of fabric. I’d get it right. At some point.
Which I did. Much later than when I started, but I now have clothing I can wear without being completely embarrassed about because of them looking like I’d crumpled them up, washed them and then let them dry while crumpled in a corner.
Someone remind me, please: Why, exactly, did I decide I’d like to dress more nicely again?