When you watch the gridiron, carry an iron

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Football season is upon us, and not a moment too soon. I was about out of clean shirts.

Every kickoff of Monday Night Football finds me parked in front of the TV set, crying, cussing, and cheering. My wife tolerates this major intrusion in our home for two reasons:

She loves me, and I do the ironing.

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Tablecloths, napkins, pillow cases, hankies, shirts, blouses will be ironed, some for the first time in months, while I watch the game.

Some women, I learned, will resign themselves to Monday Night Football and the adolescent behavior of an otherwise average, nice-enough man - as long as the ironing gets done. This is especially true if the above-described fan also does the laundry.

Actually, doing the laundry isn't that hard. It is, in fact, a piece of cake. The washer and dryer do most of the work. They even "ding" to let you know when you have to do something.

Sorting and folding can be done during the opening moments of the game, and items not needing to be ironed (towels, T-shirts) are put away during commercials. The first activity acts as my pre-ironing stretching.

Within moments of kickoff, a hankie (I always warm up on the easy ones) is placed on the ironing board, sprayed with water, ironed, flipped, sprayed and ironed again, and then folded. More follow. Holding the spray bottle (p1ease note), helps build that all-important grip for racquetball, tennis, golf, or bowling.

By halftime, the hankies, napkins, and half the shirts are done. Shirts that are finished go on a hanger (top button buttoned) and are hung nearby until there's a break in the action. Then I can move them to the appropriate closet.

Football is the perfect game to iron by. Basketball and hockey are too fast. Baseball and tennis require paying close attention, and even "The Wide World of Sports" has its drawbacks.

The main advantage to football is that it has breaks in the action. I get in several good strokes of the iron while players wave at the camera, stagger back to the huddle, or spit without opening their mouths. Time-outs are frequent and commercial breaks long.

Then there's instant replay. Football thrives on television's ability to show the action over and over. I've never missed a good play while ironing.

Here are a few tips for rookies:

1. Never iron unless you have a game on television. No sense in letting your mate know you may actually like ironing.

2. Never iron anything with a hole in it, unless it is your favorite shirt and you're willing to repair the hole yourself. (Darning is not something you can do while watching football with-out drawing a little blood.)

3. Clothes with holes are turned into rags. This reduces the amount of ironing I have to do next time. (Breaking dishes while washing them has a similar effect.)

4. Sitting while ironing is as tough as throwing a football while squatting.

The truth is, I do my best ironing during football season. Unlike summer, when the laundry basket threatens to take over the utility room, in the fall I'm usually ahead of the demand for ironed clothes, often washing smaller loads just to have something to iron.

Even my wife doesn't know that.

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