9.23.2007

drudgery for my hands, junk food for my brain

Does anyone else iron? You know, you take a piece of wrinkled clothing, put it on an ironing board, and use a hot metal object to smooth it out? Am I the only person left who does this?

A few times I have mentioned ironing, just in an offhand comment to a friend - I have to do the ironing, or, don't look at all the clothes hanging there, that's just ironing - and they've reacted with disbelief. "You iron?? Who irons anymore?!"

Me. I iron my own clothes, and those of my partner. (Allan and I split the household chores very equitably; this just happens to be my domain.) We wear cotton tees, both long and short-sleeve, and button-down cotton shirts, and they get wrinkled in the wash, and I iron them. I don't like how our clothes look without it.

Ironing is boring drudgery, and it helps to have something to watch on TV while I'm doing it. That's the problem: what to watch? I can't watch just any old crappy TV; it has to be something that holds my interest. That doesn't leave many choices.

I used to iron during baseball games. (That's an amusing image, isn't it?) But in recent years, I can't do any housework at night. I don't know if it's my age or my fibromyalgia, or some combination of the two, but I'm too tired for chores in the evening. Now I only watch baseball from the couch, with my glass of wine.

One day, about a year before we moved to Canada, I was flipping channels, trying to find something that would let me get the ironing done without calcifying from boredom. "Law & Order" re-runs work, as does "ER", but I couldn't find any. (Must have been the one hour a day when Law & Order re-runs are not on in the US.) And then: eureka. Some station was showing re-runs of "Dallas".

Dallas! The only soap opera I ever followed. In the early 80s, while I was living in Brooklyn and working in the off-Broadway theatre, my roommate was addicted to night-time soaps. If you've ever dabbled in soaps, you know a little exposure is all it takes. If we weren't busy on a Friday night, we would camp out in her room with popcorn and J.R. I had already missed the show's early years and many of its most famous episodes, but no matter. I got hooked, fast.

This was the heyday of cheesy night-time soaps. Many of my co-workers watched "Dynasty" (apparently there was a gay male interest), there was "Knots Landing" (the twins! the twins!), the forgettable "Falcon Crest" and a bunch of others. But for no apparent reason, there was only "Dallas" for me.

A few years later, when I was living alone and working as a nanny (and writing my first book), Allan would make fun of my Dallas craving - until he got hooked, too. On Friday nights, I would call my former roommate and sing the theme song on her answering machine. (Duuh, da-duh, da-duh da-da-da-da...)

And many years later, Dallas re-runs proved perfect for ironing. I rode that wave for a long time.

Then we moved to Canada. No more Dallas.

For the past two years, on every ironing day (either weekly or every-other week), I struggle to find a show to iron to. CBC News during the day will sometimes work, and there's usually a Simpsons re-run somewhere, but it's been tough. (Was it actually tough or am I exaggerating for effect? Here's a clue: how tough could it have been if I never blogged about it?)

That is, until my birthday. As part of this year's Incredibly Thoughtful Gift, Allan gave me the first four seasons of Dallas on DVD.

Everyone has a so-called "guilty pleasure". Not that you should ever feel guilty about pleasure, but something mindless and silly, something purely relaxing and enjoyable, with no other redeeming value. One smart, hard-working friend of mine reads dumb women's magazines. Another reads junky genre novels. I have Dallas.

I've never seen the whole show from beginning to end. But you better believe I'm going to own all 14 seasons before too long.

20 comments:

Jen said...

I'd also recommend DVDs of Six Feet Under, Arrested Development, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Yes, I too iron. But not t-shirts. I try to catch those when they are still warm from the dryer and fold them. Any wrinkle fall into the domain of "Student chic" fashion. I'll have to grow up when I graduate in June...

L-girl said...

Yay, Jen also irons!

I very much dislike Arrested Development. I've never seen Six Feet Under, but I get the feeling I it's not for me. (Although who knows.)

I also never liked Buffy, but you did remind me of other re-runs that were great for ironing: Xena! I have a mad crush on Gabrielle.

I do the quick-out-of-the-dryer thing, too. But to my eyes, the shirts still need ironing.

i.p. pavlova said...

Dallas! Yes!!

That was the very first "adult" show I remember getting hooked on as a kid. It became a sacred family tradition in my house: my mom, brother and I all huddled up on the fold-out sofa bed and hypothesizing about J.R.'s latest campaign of delicous 80's tycoonery. Then we'd try really hard not to fall asleep from boredom during Falcon Crest so that we'd still be awake when my dad got home from his weekly commute from law school. I can hardly imagine what it would be like to see either of those shows now.

And for the record, I also iron when the occasion demands it. That is so infrequent, however, that I don't even own an ironing board anymore.

L-girl said...

IPP, that sounds like a nice memory. Didn't Falcon Crest suck??

So how do you get away with ironing so infrequently that you don't need an ironing board?

loneprimate said...

Ha ha, isn't that something... "guilty pleasure" is how I've always characterized my feelings about Dallas. I remember watching it around noon daily the summer I was 19 in the late 80s, working an evening shift. I don't know what it was, but there was something so compelling about the characters. I have seasons 1-4 and 6; somehow I've skipped 5 and I need to go back and get it.

I think the most poignant thing for me about the show is that I had, for a long time in the 90s and early 2000s, an internet friend who lived in Dallas. He died of cancer in his mid-20s a few years ago, and I flew down there to his memorial... meeting him in death as I never did in life (his roommates gave me a vial of his ashes). I remember riding around with his dad, brother, and step-mom as we tried to find the place his memorial was being held at... we were late. And what did we drive past but... Southfork. I couldn't bloody believe it. The mixed emotions are hard to put into words. I was excited and stunned... but aside from the onset of a global thermonuclear war, it would have been hard to imagine a worse circumstance to have glimpsed the place.

Everytime I watch the show, two things happen... I get goosebumps as the theme music starts... and I remember my old friend.

L-girl said...

Lone Primate, thank you for sharing that memory. As I was writing this, I was thinking of you, and your dear friend who is gone.

s1c said...

Was never a dallas fan, more of the Dynasty fun (not that I watched either that much) but Evans and Collins were always pleasant to see, especially since I wasn't married at the time. As for the ironing, that is what dry cleaners are for.

L-girl said...

As for the ironing, that is what dry cleaners are for.

Imagine having the money to take all our cotton shirts - just every day wear - to the dry-cleaners!

Even if I could afford it, I don't think I'd want to send that much perc into the atmosphere. Maybe I would just hire someone to do my ironing. :)

James said...

I iron on those very rare occasions when I wear something other than a t-shirt and jeans.

mister anchovy said...

I don't know what nasty chemicals they put in no-iron dress shirts, but since I would prefer a root canal over ironing, I take my chances.

L-girl said...

I don't know what nasty chemicals they put in no-iron dress shirts, but since I would prefer a root canal over ironing, I take my chances.

Would you believe I iron no-iron shirts??

Funny you said root canal. I've never had one and I'm terrified of the thought.

Threaten me a with a root canal, I'll do almost anything. That's how I got in the habit of twice-yearly dentist visits and daily flossing. She said: "If you don't do this, you'll end up needing a root canal..." Say no more!

Allan had one recently and said it didn't hurt at all. But I'm still going to floss daily.

James said...

BTW, my grandmother was notorious (around our house) for being so fussy that she ironed underwear. My mother blamed a lot of her own neuroses on her mother's perfectionism. Though they both mellowed about it over time.

L-girl said...

My grandmother was the same way! :)

My mother went in the opposite direction. She's very easy going.

As it turns out, my grandmother the neat freak was rebelling against her mother.

My great-grandmother had 5 kids, they raised each other, and she could care less about housework. On any sunny day she could be found sunbathing at Brighton Beach (Brooklyn).

My grandmother had one child and kept the house under lockdown.

impudent strumpet said...

Dallas is on either DejaView or TVLand or TVTropolis - one of those channels up in the 290s (if you have the same channel numbering I do). I have no idea what time or anything, I just noticed it the other day while looking for something else.

I do iron when necessary, but whenever possible I try to get away with "Why, of course this is one of those shirts that is deliberately wrinkled for fashion purposes," or "No, really, it was ironed when I left home, it's just that I've been sitting down."

L-girl said...

Dallas is on either DejaView or TVLand or TVTropolis

It's on TVLand, but only irregularly, and we don't get that station.

Thanks though. :)

L-girl said...

So far I'm the only one who irons regularly, large numbers of garments.

gwen said...

I thought eveyone ironed to Sex and the City reruns!

And for a lazy person's household tip: Put your stuff in the dryer for about 2 minutes with a dryer sheet, then take them out and hang them up to dry the rest of the way and you won't have to iron at all.

L-girl said...

Put your stuff in the dryer for about 2 minutes with a dryer sheet, then take them out and hang them up to dry the rest of the way and you won't have to iron at all.

That's exactly what I do, but minus the dryer sheet for environmental reasons. Maybe that's the difference? But I do the short-time-in-dryer-and-hang routine, always have.

I must be too meticulous about the wrinkles.

deang said...

I've never been big on ironing clothes, since I've always been so thin that clothes wafted about me and inevitably bunched up into exorbitant creases and wrinkles when I sat down. If I iron my clothes, the effect is reversed in half an hour. I always envied people with enough flesh to actually pull the fabric flat across the body the way it's supposed to be. Their clothes rarely seem to wrinkle.

So I didn't iron clothes much, but I did go through a phase in college where I ironed my sheets everyday. Don't know why, but it seemed important at the time.

L-girl said...

Ironing sheets! My grandmother would have loved you. :)