Ironing and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

vintage-care-instructions-from-a-vintage-bookIt’s terrible how things from your youth manage to creep up on you as you are older.  Ironing, for instance.  After all the mountains of ironing I did as a kid, I swore when I got grown I’d never iron.  Then the miracle of permanent press and dryers came along.  Voila!  For forty years, I wore clothes hung up straight from the dryer.  Those items that required a bit of pressing were hung in the closet and passed over time after time till I just had to wear them, like to a funeral, wedding, or special event.  A dress or blouse might spend five years in the dark only to be discarded when I tired of reaching over it.  I had no problem wearing polyester or blends if they spared me ironing.  Of course, as a nurse, I wore non-descript scrubs, so work clothes weren’t an issue.

Then when I hit my mid-fifties, something terrible happened.  I became obsessed with cotton.  I only wanted cotton shirts and jeans.  Worse yet, I craved the crisp, starched creases of my youth.  It was awful.  I found myself starching and ironing jeans and cotton shirts.  I even got a few cotton dresses, and yes, I put in time ironing every week.  I couldn’t stand to see them sitting in the laundry basket.  I went to work as I took them out of the dryer.  Worse yet, I felt compelled to iron Bud’s jeans and shirts.  Jeans that have never before seen an iron.  I even bought him cotton button-up shirts.

As time went on, my disease progressed further.  Now, I feel compelled to iron in repetitions of five, or until I complete the pile.  As soon as I take items out of the dryer, I fold a stack of five and hang the rest up.  Though my back aches before I finish the third piece, I know I have to do five, so I alternate easy and demanding items.  Example, a long sleeved shirt with collar and pocket flaps is about as much work as a pair of jeans, so I can’t do them in succession.  I start with jeans and follow with a simple sleeveless, pocketless shirt.  The problem comes in if the items don’t line up right.  If the laundry wasn’t organized properly, I could have three pair of jeans and two complicated shirts that have to be done.  This is brutal, since the rule requires five pieces completed.  Another dilemma to face if eleven pieces are in the ironing pile.  I HAVE to do cycles of five, but I am not supposed to leave ironing for another day.  That means I have to iron five pieces the first go round, but knowing I will have one left over complicates things.  This means I have to come up with a plan.  I can substitute to simple pieces for one difficult piece and it only counts as six.  For example.  I could do two jeans, two long-sleeved shirts with pocket-flaps and two simple shirts or a simple shirt and pair of shorts.  Those six would round off to about five, however, the adjustment must be made with first session or I won’t have room to correct a possible miscalculation.

Ironing Exchanges:

Long-sleeved shirt with cuffs and pocket flaps                                                       1

Long-sleeved shirt with cuffs, pocket flaps, and air vent in back                         1.5

Jeans                                                                                                                                1

Pants with cuffs, thigh pockets with or without flaps and back pocket flaps     1.5

Simple short sleeve or sleeveless shirts with no pocket flaps                                0.5

Shorts with pocket flaps or cuffs                                                                                 1

Simple shorts                                                                                                                  0.5

Dress                                                                                                                                2  +/-  0.5 

As you see, it takes some managing to make each ironing session equal five.  I try to do difficult calculations first.  Should it be entirely too much ironing for one day, I have to leave my ironing board up as a pledge to come back the next morning.  It upsets me to not have pieces amount to five points per session.  If it looks like that might happen, I have to throw in another wash.  I hate it when that happens.

Then there is the mending, a story for another day.