Sorry, let me rephrase... How does the thought of ironing make you feel?
I used to despise it and thus bought only clothes that didn't require ironing. Until I got married, had to iron some of the husband's shirts occasionally, still hated it though a little less, and later on, became more competent at it and have since grown to like it.
Most people dread ironing largely because they never really learned how to, let alone realized how their choice (or the lack thereof) of iron and ironing board can totally affect their experience. It's almost like driving a car. Before buying it, you would have asked: Are the seats comfortable enough to take you through a 5-kilometer jam? Does the dashboard look cool enough for you? How does the steering wheel feel? And the accelerator? Does the car say "you" all over? Will you and the vehicle become one on the road?
Now I know some of you may laugh at what I've just said. Of course we'd ask ourselves 101 questions before buying a car! After all it is a major financial commitment we're signing ourselves to. An iron and the accompanying board cost no more than a couple of hundred bucks tops. Why think so much?
Oh wait, before I continue: if you think ironing is something only maids do because they are paid and thus have no choice but to do so, you can stop reading now and get back to Facebooking. Otherwise, please carry on :)
As for the act of ironing, it has become a recurring lesson on appreciation and gratitude especially in the past two years of "homelessness". If you're reading this, my darling Frenchloaf, do not feel guilty at all because we both made the choices together, and there are many great things that we've experienced and accomplished not having a home.
Ironing brings back fond memories. I can't remember exactly when I took over ironing of our school uniforms from my mother. It used to be done on Sunday nights after dinner during homework time. (Anything to get away from doing homework!) My mother taught me the biggest tip to iron a pair of pants: iron the pockets and seams on the inside first. Why did I have to iron pants? They were my brother's white, long prefect pants. I don't even think he remembers this today. His prefect uniform meant he was dressed in white head to toe, save for the green tie. And he would ride his all-white bike to school. Some days he even volunteered to pick me up after school. Of course I took up the offer - it meant I didn't have to cycle to school, and that some girls would be envious that a guy picks me up after school. My history teacher even mistook my brother for a boyfriend *cringe*. I never asked my brother but I think back then, his volunteering was also his golden ticket to enter (to see and be seen in) my school compound. An all-girls school. Now which 17-year-old guy wouldn't like that?
Ironing makes me appreciate my clothes better. I mean, how often do you actually study the seams, the lining and how the hems are sewn on your clothes? It is through ironing that I learned about (and appreciate) good tailoring. As a result, I also learned to choose the better clothes at the same price point, and to tell if something is really worth paying for. Studying the structure of a dress and imagining how it is to be ironed, I will know if it is for keeps. Put simply, if it is meant to be ironed and if you won't be ironing it, do you really think you'll be wearing it often enough to lower your cost-per-wear? The answer is obvious and you should take your money elsewhere.
Ironing makes me appreciate the people I'm ironing for. One just cannot help but think of the person whose clothes you are ironing. And much more, like when he wears what you're ironing and what he does wearing it. For instance, the husband's favourite business shirts from CYC (which in turn reminds me of the affable Akira whom I'd tease because of his appearance on Channel 5), the MIL's aprons worn all-day because of her primary role in the house, the nephew's yellow Guadeloupe tee which reminds me of his classic antics, the first shirt I bought for the FIL which has become one of his regular pieces. That same shirt, I bought one also for my own father so I do think of him too.
Ironing teaches me patience. We all think nothing of ironing. After all it is just laying the shirt flat on the board and gliding the iron over, right? Well you are right. And you might as well say cooking is just lighting up the fire on the stove. Table napkins and T-shirts are no-brainers. But wait till your husband tells you he loves that blue shirt very much because that's what he wore on your wedding day. Or when you spent a large portion of your paycheck on that dress. Or worse, that you no longer receive any paycheck. Learn first how to iron correctly and then efficiently. It sounds stupid but there are such videos on Youtube ;)
Ironing teaches me respect. Yes, respect that label on your dress. No, I don't mean the branding label. The washing label, darling. This can be extended to how you do your laundry as well. Even if you wear only cotton, there is cotton and cotton. Not to be taken lightly either: anything with embossed designs. So why not save unnecessary grief by following instructions on the washing labels.
Ironing is therapeutic. In tropical climate, when one thinks ironing, one also thinks aircond or fan. I should tell you about my in-laws' house - you can't find any fan or aircond here. It's no problem during winter or early spring. But to iron clothes and house linens in a bedroom without a fan on a hot summer afternoon? Oh là-là!!! However, and most strangely so, I've learned to be happy with it. I channel my thoughts to anything but the heat (see all of the above, and then some). Nothing describes this better than the old Chinese saying that all is cool when the heart is calm (心静自然凉). So on some days I feel incomplete unless I do some ironing.
So there, the iron lady has spoken. Give me a shout if you're in the market for an iron and board so I can share the boring technical details with you. And if you ever find yourself troubled, unsettled, mentally unorganized, why not seek refuge in ironing? Listen to that steam and the tripping of the heating element. You may even learn to like it.