Monday, March 18, 2013

A few things to iron out

I was at a mixed nationaliy tea party this weekend when my Singaporean friend said she would be heading off and had a lot of ironing to do.  The French lady there sympathized.  I couldn't resist.  I said, ladies, get thee a dryer.  Actually, my Singaporean friend does have one.  But apparently she still ends up ironing a lot.

Maybe I'm not a highly demanding person in terms of wrinkle-free clothes.  But since I've had my dryer (that golden moment in 2010) I have really done very little ironing.  I do as little as possible in fact.  Only when something is really wrinkly or I have a job interview do I haul out the board and iron.  Otherwise I make sure I take the most sensitive stuff out of the dryer right away and fold it in the basket and that's it.  End of story.

I first realized I was not crazy (er, jury's still out on that one...) when I read an American expat's article on ironing back in 2005.  I literally laughed out loud and was so comforted to know that it was normal that I didn't list ironing as a hobby.

I checked it out with my American family when I was back there in July.  My sister, mom and aunt all confirmed that they very rarely iron.  They just take stuff out of the dryer, air it out a bit and voil√†!  My aunt, I should point out, even lives in West Palm Beach where appearance matters and has eaten at Donald Trump's restaurant, so she obviously cares about dressing well.  And still, not a big ironer (aside from her sheets, but that's another story).

I even noticed a US tv show while there where the dad used going home to get the stuff out of the dryer as an excuse to get out of something.  Otherwise the clothes will be all wrinkly, he said.  You see!

That's the difference between the US and France, my friends.  Whereas the dryer phenomenon is so well known in the US that it is mentioned on sitcoms, in France we get ads like this one:

This woman is so desperate to get the limescale out of her iron!

Or this one, where the woman feels compelled to get the wrinkles out of her man's shirt. The ad is for a system for quick ironing (not a bad idea, really).

So I'm wondering if maybe it's a cultural thing.  Do French women feel the need to iron?  If you like ironing and it relaxes you to do it front of the telly on a cold and grey winter's day, go for it.  But if you're doing it cause your husband refuses to (my case in the past), then rise up, my sisters!  You don't need to spend all that time with the steam in your face.  There are other more fulfilling hobbies awaiting you.  So my advice to you, if you can, get a dryer and take those clothes out right away.  It is to our generation what burning their bras was to the women in the 60s! 


Den nation said...

Hi, I've come over from Crystal's blog. I've been reading your blog for a few years now.

I hate ironing. It doesn't matter how much I try to get it right, I never seem to live up to the European woman's standards. Things were even worse when I was in the Czech Republic than in France, women iron socks and underwear there!

I don't have a dryer in France. I just try to stretch out my clothes before I put them on the line to air-dry.

Luckily my husband has the type of job that allows him to go to work with wrinkled shirts. Actually, with his line of work, people who wear shirts that have been ironed are suspicious.

I "inherited" my French friend's old iron board a few years ago. I think I've used it 4 or 5 times.

Jenenz said...

I always assumed that ironing was a big deal in European countries. All this based on Thomas's German mom and relatives who ironed everything...linens, shirts, underwear!!!!!

Ironing has fallen out of favor in the States. I think Americans love convenience (I certainly do).

It's ironic that I just ironed some slacks that I just hemmed. Otherwise, I hadn't touched an iron for 6 months.

Crystal said...

I only iron my clothes now that I live in France :) Max's uniform is made of a non-wrinkly material, so it's wash and hang dried, and ready to go! We don't own a dryer, but I don't feel like I'm missing out. The only thing I'd use it for would be towels, I think!

Funny ironing story: I actually love ironing, but rarely do it. Back in Canada, when I was 18, I went to a house party of a friend of my from school. Her older brother (21) was there, and he was getting ready for a job interview at a restaurant. I had never met him, but I could see he was getting ready to put on a wrinkly dress shirt for his interview. I offered to iron it for him quickly, and the next week he asked his sister to ask me out for him. He ended up being my first true love, and we dated for 6 months before our lives were separated by going to 2 different universities.

We're still friends, and we still bring up the ironing story from time to time. And yes, he got the job :)

Mil said...

Den Nation, thanks for warning me about the Czech Republic! And I think I want your husband's job if wrinkled shirts are the norm.

Jennet, thanks for proving my point and reminding me that it must be my American roots ;)

Crystal, that is a very cute story. If you like ironing, then I would never stand in your way! Glad you don't have to do Max's stuff!