Ironing Bored

February 20, 2006

This starchy little tribute to the fulfillment of housewifery was tucked into the SF Chronicle’s Home & Garden section this past week. I read the whole thing, mystified.

The heavy, gleaming General Electric sits, heated and ready, on the ironing board. My mother moves quietly around the kitchen. Even at this hour, she looks neat and fresh. Her dark hair is combed in loose waves around her face, and her pinstriped blouse is tucked into the waistband of her full cotton skirt, which swishes softly as she walks.

I find this gushy new nostalgia for 1950s-style housewife perfection somewhat bizarre, and I was surprised to find it bubbling up in my newspaper. Maybe the article was a test case, to see if there were any Darla Shine Happy Housewife clubbers in the Bay Area hinterlands.

I don’t disparage the goals of these ladies. I’d love to have an ever-clean house, terrific homecooked meals on the table three times a day, look like a million bucks, and overflow with time and energy for my son. Unlike the Shiners, however, I can’t haze over the harsh lessons learned by women of generations past who cleaved to that exclusive plan and got burned: the brutal empty-nest days, bored disconnect between spouses, and marooned widowers and divorcees with little earning power. Well, really, I’m just not into ironing.