Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ironing Out Our Differences

“For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, even though she won’t iron or repair lost buttons, as long as you both shall live.”
Exactly. And he bought it.
In the grand scheme of things, I’d probably say that I’m a fairly good housewife. I do an okay job keeping the place clear of dustball tumbleweeds and for the most part you can see out the windows. (Just ignore the cheese that a certain tiny person smeared along the bottom of each one.) I excel in the kitchen, if the expanding size of our waists is any indication and even use fancy ingredients like darkened sesame oil and capers.
Laundry, however, is another story. In fact, clothing in general is my greatest household weakness. I like to blame it on my childhood, because my grandmother ironed everything she could get her hands on, even the underwear. My mother, therefore, followed in her footsteps, and I spent many hours as a child pressing off the one thing I couldn’t really screw up: hankies. I probably ironed more laundered boogie rags than any kid I know. (By the way, ewwww. If I blow my nose in something, I don’t want it washed with my t-shirts in a snotty whirlpool.)
That said, I do not iron. Flat out refuse. I’d rather wear wrinkly clothes with cock-eyed collars than drag out that beastly appliance. I’m lucky enough if my clothes match and are clean, let alone crisp. But the smoothness is sometimes the least of my problems.
I was again reminded of this black cloud of domestic darkness this week when I ruined a load of clothes by forgetting a stick of oily lip balm in the pocket of my favorite pants. I spotted up not only my favorite pants, but a good chunk of my husband’s work wardrobe and a pair of pink pants, which apparently mean more to my four year old than life itself.
“AAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!! Mommy! These were my mostest favoritest pants in the whole wide world!” Sob sob sob sob sob, etc.
So I dug through the cabinet under the sink because sometime in my life I must have bought a stain remover. After a few cobwebs, I found it. (It was so old that it actually had a price tag.) Squirt and scrub, wash, rinse, repeat. This was a large job for someone who mostly goes in the laundry room to escape, because no one else likes that place. Hours later I emerged, with the spots somewhat faded on the clothes and reappeared as chemical and brush burns on my fingers.
Feeling rather guilty that my husband would be smudged up on his upcoming business trip, I thought I would send the world off its axis and actually iron the clothes I just ruined. I was again reminded that whomever invented clothing that requires pressing isn’t very smart–and is probably the same cruel person that makes jeans shrink after their first wash. But I did it. Gold star for me.
Since I was racking up the points, I next did the unthinkable. The unmentionable. The unbelievable. I sewed a button back on a pair of his pants that had been sitting on the dresser, unwearable, for nearly six months. Sewing, in my book, is a very bad thing if it has to do with clothes. Placemats and curtains I can whip out by the dozens, but having to repair a measly button is worse than, well, ironing. This I learned from my mother, who truthfully told my father to just “throw it away” if a button went missing. To this day I’d bet he’s got a box of clothes, all with missing pieces, dating back to 1974.
The real kicker is that my husband doesn’t mind my domestic downfalls. He agrees to iron his own clothes and kiss the ones with missing buttons farewell on their long sabbatical at the bottom of the closet. We’ve worked out a great balance of work around the house and yard, so while I may frighten the traditionalist with my lack of ironing, I enlighten the feminist by mowing the lawn.
One part of a happy marriage is balance and cooperation. A lot of my friends threw their aprons at their husbands and refuse to do any cooking that doesn’t just involve a freezer and a microwave. This makes me laugh especially hard given my vows:
“For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, even though he won’t cook anything that doesn’t use a grill or requires stirring, as long as you both shall live.”
Exactly. And I bought it.
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