“What happened to our ironing board?” I turned around and addressed the room and was met by blank stares from everyone in my family.
“What do you mean?” Clara asked, leaning forward to look at where the ironing board was set up behind me.
“It’s broken,” I said plainly.
“It doesn’t look broken,” Gideon added, not bothering to even look away from the computer screen where a Youtube video was playing.
“But it is,” I said.
“You know, I think it’s been like that for a while now,” Andrea said reassuringly.
I turned and wobbled the mangled piece of metal and fabric. “Are you sure? I thought you used it just yesterday. That’s why it’s set up, right?”
“There is no way you used it like this.” I tried to lift it so she could see, but it just fell apart even more. Pieces swung free from the hinges and clanked against the base. “I would describe this as ‘comically broken’. It looks like The Rock tossed it off the top of The Tower of Doom onto The Undertaker.”
She blinked at me.
“It’s totally busted!” I bounced it up and down and it made a sound like an industrial metal grinder chewing through an old Datsun. “Seriously, did someone try to stand on this or something? Maybe someone used it like a surfboard? Would someone do that?” I was becoming worried by how unconcerned everyone in my family was about the ironing board situation.
Finally, Lydia looked up and sighed. “Okay. I’m not saying that I did it, because I honestly have no memory whatsoever of doing anything like that, but I’ll admit that it certainly sounds like the type of thing that I would do.” she shrugged, “So, I don’t know. It was probably me.”
“This wasn’t a long time ago,” I pressed on. “This was like, today. Probably sometime within the past three hours. You can’t remember possibly climbing on the ironing board and having it collapse dramatically beneath you sometime in the past three hours?”
The girl narrowed her eyes. She really did look like she was trying to remember. “I really don’t know. But probably. Like I said, it really sounds like something I would do. I admit that. And I know it wasn’t Clara or Mom, because they would never do that. And probably Gideon wouldn’t either, he’s a good boy,” she nodded towards her little brother and he nodded back. “So, I don’t know.” she looked back at the computer as if confirming that the mystery was solved and the conversation had come to an end. “So, I guess it was me… maybe.”
“Maybe…” I echoed. And then I attempted to fold the ironing board back up and nearly cut my hand on a jagged piece of the destroyed base. “It sounds like something you would do, but you can’t remember.”
“Yes,” the little girl confirmed.
I lifted the pieces of the ironing board and tried to hang them back up on their hook on the back of the laundry room door. The grotesque form dangled awkwardly like the bones of a dead animal.
But, perhaps this was appropriate. I considered this as I stepped back and looked at it like a piece of very dumb modern art. Who needs an ironing board anyway? I mean, what does it even do? Isn’t it just a way of hiding all the creases and imperfections of our crumpled life so that people won’t see them and judge us for them? Isn’t ironing our clothes simply a way society has invented to prolong the public realization that life is chaos and sometimes clothes, like life, get wrinkly? So, maybe replacing all of that with this mysterious broken monument was very fitting. Perhaps we should all toss our ironing boards off the top of a 10 story building like someone quite possibly did with mine. It’s 2021, after all. Perhaps we should reject this weird archaic passion we have for presenting ourselves as somehow being more pulled together than we all actually are. The truth is out. Life is messy, but we survive in wrinkled dress shirts and socks that do not match. We live in the future. Let’s leave behind ironed shirts and let them become a novelty of the past, something our grandchildren will laugh at us about, mocking our vanity and insincerity.
Please, I need you to agree to this with me, because this will be the third ironing board I have replaced since having children and I would rather just not have to deal with it anymore.
I smiled to myself as I thought about these things and then noticed Lydia was watching from across the room.
“I’m sorry if maybe I broke that,” she said.
I shook my head, “Thanks. But, I think it will be okay.” And I crossed the room and sat down next to her on the couch.