Do You Iron?

Do you iron your own shirts? Most of the time my industrious Joy Ann irons the clothes in our home. About once or twice a week I iron my own shirt. Ironing can be very empowering. It demonstrates self-reliance, humility, concentration and you get to really know your clothes.

My favorite shirt is Strongman. Strongman is a teal green, long shelve, button down Ralph Lauren shirt. Strongman cost about $50 but has worn like iron. I bet I have worn Strongman a hundred times. I ironed Strongman on Monday for the first time in a couple of months. Strongman is over three years old. The cautionary Joy Ann has been warning me for sometime that Strongman is on his last leg. Strongman is made from 100% cotton. The material is like duck cloth or a light canvas. It might be called broadcloth. I’m not sure of the name but boy is he comfortable.

When she saw me pulling Strongman from the laundry basket, the stern Joy Ann said, “You can’t wear that thing. It’s worn out. The underarms are stained. Put on something else!” Basically she refused to iron Strongman. Not one to let go easily I put Strongman on the ironing board and turned the iron on high steam. If this was to be Strongman’s last trip I wanted him to go out pressed.

A few years ago I was taking flying lesson at Louisville’s Bowman Field. I usually wore the same shirt to most lessons. It was a shirt that was a lot like Strongman except the shirt had flap pockets, epaulets and was khaki colored. I felt very military when I wore that shirt.

One day after landing the plane, my flight instructor told me to stop on the taxiway. She got out of the plane and announced over the roar of the engine, “Today is the day you solo.” I responded with a feeble, “So soon? Are you sure? I’m not ready.” She told me I was in fact ready and she closed the door and walked away without looking back.

I may have looked military but I felt totally unprepared and pretty much scared to death. I taxied out and took off. I don’t remember much about my first solo except the constant blare of the stall warning horn and my apparent loss of all directional control of the aircraft.

Somehow I landed and returned to the flight school. I was soaked in nervous perspiration and on wobbly knees. My instructor met me with scissors and intent to cut off my shirttail. Cutting off the shirttail of a newly soloed pilot is an old aviator’s custom. I told her, “I nearly died and now you want to cut up my favorite shirt. ARE YOU NUTS?” I left and never returned. I wore my flying shirt many times after that day but never in the air.

So there I was ironing Strongman when I saw it. A hole! Strongman had sprung a leak in his left shelve. I can put up with fading. I can take some fraying. I could put up with a little yellowing under the arm but a hole….. This changed everything. I knew this was the end for Strongman.

I worn Strongman for the last time on Monday. When I got home I threw him in the hamper. The ever practical Joy Ann retrieved Strongman, held him in front of my face and said, “What’s this doing in the laundry? I thought today was the last time you were going to wear it.” I responded, “I can’t let him go out dirty.”

I tell you this my esteemed reader, it was with sadness and pride that I stuffed Strongman into the trash bin. Call it a rite or a ritual, it is hard to say goodbye to those that have served so well.

Do you iron your own shirts?

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Best Wishes,