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The Sunday Afternoon Zen of Pressing a Shirt. . .

 


Nothing quite like the aroma of freshly ironed cotton garments!  A shirt from J. Press, purchased about a year ago but as yet unworn.  Tomorrow (Monday) morning.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

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Old School said…
Heinz-Ulrich,
This piece, which first appeared in a 1987
Lands End catalog, seems to have disappeared from
the Web. It merits sharing with readers who may
not have seen it:

THE PLEASURE OF IRONING A FINE COTTON SHIRT
By Roy Earnshaw

My wife is still asleep. I’ve exercised (quietly), showered, eaten breakfast. Now comes time for a familiar early morning ritual.

I take a cotton dress shirt from the closet, a wrinkled cotton dress shirt, shrug it off its hanger, and drape it over the ironing board.

Some men might smirk at the sight of me preparing to iron. “What? You iron your own shirts? John Wayne never would’ve!”

Well, call me a pantywaist, but I happen to enjoy it.

I plug in the iron, check the water level, turn the setting to — what else — cotton. Then pause for a few moments to let it get hot.

The room where I iron is a barren one. No furniture, just the ironing board. A “room we haven’t figured out what to do with yet,” having just recently bought this house. I suppose one day it will fill up with things, but right now I like it this way. Its spartan aspect seems well suited to the art of ironing.

I start with the left sleeve, first spritzing on water with a sprayer, then ironing it so flat, it almost looks as if I could pick it up and slice bread with it.

I turn it over, do the other side, then the cuff. Then on to the other sleeve, while the ironed one dangles just above the dusty wood floor.

(My wife tells me my technique is all wrong, but then so did my golf coach, my typing teacher, other authority figures. I take a perverse pleasure in doing things my own incorrect way.)

Now the back yoke, and a couple swipes at the collar. The easy parts. And then I sweep the shirt up off the board and down again, with its back spread out flat before me.

Sometimes I botch the back pleat, and have to do it two or three times. But no one is watching.

The ironing board cover bothers me. It’s a cheap one, full of childish flowers in jarring hues. Orange. Chartreuse. Purple. The colors of fast food restaurants. I miss the plain white one my mother used to have, with its humble dignity and burn smudges.

I press on. (No letters please — bad puns harm no one.) The cotton cloth is soft, sturdy in my fingers, and responsive to the iron. I swear, it enjoys being ironed! Almost seems to purr. It has a wonderful, tightly-woven texture to it, and glistens with the heat of the iron, and the soft light of the room.

Again I sweep the shirt up off the board, and down again, to do the right front, skating in and out around the buttons, then the left, using plenty of water and going over the stubborn placket again and again, bearing down, until it finally yields and becomes flat, neat. I am finished.

Now, the final pleasure of slipping into the toasty shirt. Especially keen now, in the February cool of the house. It almost crackles as I button it up, tuck it in.

The finches in the back room start to peep as first light looks in the windows. Time for me to go. But I leave with a sense of contentment, knowing that whatever large debacles or small frustrations await me, I have at least done one small piece of good work today.
Thank you Old School! This is wonderful.

Best Regards,

H-U

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