Irons are handheld devices used to steam press clothing and eliminate wrinkles. Despite the name, modern irons are made with a stainless steel sole plate, so as to keep irons durable and rust-free. The term “iron” is often used now as a metaphor to describe the process of straightening/leveling out an article or spirit using any tool, spanning from tangible to emotional to metaphysical.
In some versions of the folklore surrounding Baba Yaga, she irons out the path behind her so no one can tell where she’s been. I just made this up.
Janet hated doing laundry but she loved to iron. Any chance she would get, she’d iron. Sometimes as soon as her husband threw off his shirt or tie, she would snatch it up and begin ironing. He hated this and thought it was because she was a frigid bitch with a withered vagina. Her therapist thought the same thing, though he told her that she was trying to gain control over her life by ironing clothes. Perhaps this is all true, even the part about the withered vagina. All Janet knows is that when she irons, all traces of her husband go away. Gone are the scent of his sweat and cologne; gone the cardboard dust aroma from the storage room in the office; gone forever the pine tree he brushes up against on the way to and from the driveway and the smells of his lover’s unwithered vagina.
Philosophers and historians say that time is cyclical. Or it repeats itself. The Dark Age and the Iron Age repeat themselves in one form or another, as do the Inquisition, the witch trials, and the Red Scare. I don’t know about such things. I’m not a philosopher. Or a historian.
I was taught to iron on an 8×8 inch square of fabric. This did not prepare me for ironing out oddly-shaped clothing with thick collars and obtrusive sleeves. It did not prepare me for bumpy buttons and embossed patterns. Nor was I prepared for burned clothes and burned hands. It also did not prepare me for heartbreaks and hangovers and sucker punches. I remain unprepared for the fickle hearts of women and the affairs of men. My life is limited to this 8×8 inch of fabric and I still can’t quite get that last crease to go down.
Baba Yaga Again
I heard she kidnaps children, steals their bones and then irons out their skins to hang and dry outside of her chicken leg house. Okay. I made part of that up…
Paul always did it himself. Started his own company. Self-made millionaire. Business trips on his own coin. Ironed his own clothes at the end of each day. One day, they found him at the front of the hotel, smashed into pavement and surrounded by broken glass. His death was documented, photographed, and he was filed away in the morgue.
The Ghost of Iron
Nobody uses iron anymore. Everything is stainless steel or synthetic or both. Even irons are being replaced by steamers and lifestyles that can afford wrinkles in clothes. But their ghosts still haunt us, clinking on chains made of Jacob Marley. Every year, they come to this very spot, bury their faces in the ground, and howl at the earth.