Family and/or Autobiography

Iron Man

My mom always considered ironing to be a kind of hobby, something that helped her to relax, something that made her happy.

Ironing leads to happiness? It’s a difficult concept to wrap one’s brain around – until I tell you that my mom is German. If Mom’s side of the family taught me anything, it’s that Germans don’t know how to stop working. Instead they find ways to combine work with leisure.

Mom would set up her ironing board in the kitchen. The kitchen in our house adjoined the family room, the location of the house’s only color TV. While she waited for the iron to begin angrily sputtering steam (and that iron could spit with the ferocity of a pit viper) Mom would slam Psycho into the VCR. Then, for the next hour and a half, she would make pants creases so sharp and starchy that Norman Bates could’ve used them to slice open Marion Crane.

Mom loved cans of spray starch and used them with gusto. While it made our shirts, pants and hankies crisp, clean and perfect, her liberal starch application meant that some spray mist ended up on the kitchen’s linoleum floor. This created a permanent slick spot that would send passersby skidding into the dishwasher.

I was usually that passerby. The bruises on my knees and ankles didn’t entirely heal until I moved out.

This is why I hate ironing, I think; it’s just too easy for me to associate it with leg injuries and serial killers.

This is a problem, for I am a fully-fledged house husband. I am the designated iron-er.

I try to avoid it when I can. When I glance into the clothes drier and discover a garment that is sort of wrinkled, I hear myself say, “It’s not that wrinkled.”

I then fold it up and put it in a drawer.

On the rare occasion I find a garment too wrinkled for me to say, “it’s not that wrinkled,” I hear myself say, “I’m gonna donate this shirt to a homeless person!”

This strategy works just fine for my clothes. When the wrinkled garment in question is Ellen’s, however, things get more complicated.

Ellen’s eyesight is bad, so bad that without her glasses she is almost legally blind. Yet, by some horrible miracle, she can spot a clothes wrinkle at 30 paces. I don’t know how she does this, but I’d wish she’d stop. I also wish she’d start wearing more cotton. That stuff never needs ironing – and on the rare occasion it does – zip zip zip – I can touch it up before a Psycho VCR tape makes it past the FBI warning.

But Ellen dresses professionally. Well-dressed professionals do not wear cotton. They wear weird fabrics that are created in laboratories by brilliant, sadistic Germans who dedicate their lives to creating new and exciting ironing challenges; something that’s delicate, shiny, ruffled, layered, pleated and susceptible scorch marks; something that can miraculously manufacture new wrinkles while you’re ironing out old ones.

Despite these hardships, I give ironing my best effort. I am a house husband. Ironing is my job. And, when I can’t avoid it, I take that job seriously.

One day last week as Ellen stumbled though our front door hunched under the weight of her take-home work, she found me waiting for her in the foyer.

“I ironed your ruffled blouse thing!” I announced. I held the blouse up for inspection and awaited kudos.

Ellen squinted for a moment.

Ellen does not have what one might describe as a poker face. At any given moment I can tell what she is thinking. In that particular moment she was thinking, “Oh, that’s sucky.”

She didn’t say that, of course, because my wife makes an effort to be thoughtful. Instead she said, “It’s good, but I think I need to touch it up a little.”

I was aggrieved by the suggestion. I had set up the ironing board in the family room and labored over that stupid, shiny, ruffle-y, wrinkly blouse half the morning. I invested way too much time and effort and starch on this stupid thing. And now Ellen was going to tell me that she’d “touch it up?” Oh, I don’t think so.

Besides, I knew Ellen wouldn’t touch it up. She’d be too busy to touch it up. For weeks and weeks that awful blouse would sit by its lonesome in the ironing basket. Every day it would mock me and remind me of my ironing failure.

So, to save face, I said, “No, I’ll take care if it.”

“I think it looks good,” she lied. “I can just touch it…”

“I’ll take care of it,” I said again.

“It’s really no tr–”

“I. Will. Take care of it.”

Sensing that the German part of my heritage was flooding my brain, Ellen let the matter drop.

And I am pleased to report that, after many trials and tribulations, I finally did get that awful blouse perfectly ironed.

It was quite simple really.

I invited my mom over, revved up the DVD player, rented Psycho from the library, uncapped the starch can, and resolved to live the rest of my life with black and blue ankles.

Family and/or Autobiography

More Resolved Solved!

Resolutions be tricky.
Resolutions be tricky.

At the start of 2015, I posted six resolutions that I planned to accomplish over the coming year. By the first week of February, I had nailed two of them:

Resolved: I will do something bold, yet well-planned.

Resolved: I will get rid of my golf ball collection in a manner that is – at the very least – mildly amusing.

Needless to say, I was feeling rather good about myself. In fact, I was smug. “Ha ha!” I chuckled. “I have 11 months to accomplish four more measly resolutions. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy!”

The  remaining resolutions didn’t seem all that tricky, either:

Resolved: I shall neither form opinions nor comment on the opinions of others until I have finished at least one big mug of morning coffee.

Resolved: I will meet more blog buddies in person.

Resolved: I will become a Laundry Master.

Resolved: I shall write early and often.

But, then, resolution-wise, I kind of hit a wall. February became March and March became April. During that time I was unable to put anything in the done pile.

That is, until last week. My lovely wife, Ellen, with great ceremony, presented me with the following two documents (suitable for framing).

Woo!
Woo! (Click to see larger.)
Double woo! (Click to see larger.)
Double woo! (Click to see larger.)

Thank you, my love! I am honored and touched. And I can now see the light at the end of the resolution tunnel.

Onward!

On Blogging, On Writing

Resolved: I Will Come Up With Resolutions

A solemn vow
A solemn vow

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. I’m not even one for staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve (I was singing “Auld Lang Syne” to my pillow at 10:30, thank you very much). But something tells me that 2015 is going to be my year.

My problem is that something tells me this every year – and that something is rarely right. So I figured I’d throw in a little New Year’s resolution self-improvement to karmically sweeten the deal.

Let’s begin:

***

My first resolution is for my beloved wife.

Resolved: I shall neither form opinions nor comment on the opinions of others until I have finished at least one big mug of morning coffee.

It’s for the best.

***

Golf-wise, 2014 was a very good year for me. I don’t play golf, I fill my pockets with lost and/or abandoned golf balls from a nearby course. I now have 376 golf balls filling my office desk drawer. Also filled? My head – with questions like: “What on earth was I thinking?” and “What am I going to do with all of these stupid things?”

This is what 376 golf ball look like. If you want to see what a doofus looks like, check out the photo at the top of this blog.
This is what 376 golf balls look like. If you want to see what a doofus looks like, check out the photo at the top of this blog.

Resolved: I will get rid of my golf ball collection in a manner that is – at the very least – mildly amusing.

Suggestions are welcome.

***

Since I started this blog three years ago I have broken bread with five blog pals and met at least a dozen more. I am delighted to report that every single one of them was funny, charming and interesting. I am still a bit gobsmacked by this. Seriously, what are the odds? Maybe I’m tempting fate, but I want to meet more!

Resolved: I will meet more blog buddies in person.

In other words, if you reside in or visit New Jersey, New York City, or Eastern Pennsylvania, feel free to hit me up for coffee.

***

When I was in college, I earned a reputation as a skilled Laundry Fellow. One time when I was in the Laundromat folding a load of colors, a female classmate I had a nodding relationship with – let’s call her Liz – entered with her meathead boyfriend. She was there to do Mr. Meathead’s laundry for him. (Don’t even get me started.)

I nodded to Liz, as I usually did, and resumed my folding. After a few minutes, I realized that the laundromat was unusually silent. I looked up from my work to find both Liz and her meathead staring at me as if I was some kind of circus animal.

“I bet you iron, too,” Liz said with a contemptuous smile.

“Well, if you fold the clothes when they’re still warm,” I replied, “in many cases you don’t have to iron.”

It was at that moment I could see Mr. Meathead’s brain drawing conclusions about my sexual identity.

Since those days, my laundry muscles have atrophied. I still do loads without having to be asked, but washing my wife’s clothes have made things more complicated and intimidating. (Delicate cycles? Wha?) At times I feel like a babe in the laundry woods.

Resolved: I will become a Laundry Master.

***

Here’s the obligatory writing one:

Resolved: I shall write early and often.

I already sort of do this. But I plan to write earlier and often-er. And with more gusto. I also want to get my word counts up.

Rebekah, one of my blog pals, banged out 14,000 words in one day for NaNoWiMo. Let me say right here and now that I have no plans to challenge this record.

***

And the big finish:

Resolved: I will do something bold, yet well-planned.

I can’t do bold without my boldness being well-planned. And yes, I already have something planned. ‘Cause that’s the way I roll; I plan my planning!

So! What are some of your resolutions?