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HEYDAYS: Collared by a wrinkled shirt

I'm no criminal, but I was collared by her iron will. My wife reached across the restaurant table and fingered my shirt. "Did I," she said softly, squinting, "iron that collar?" It was more rhetorical than a question aimed at soliciting a respons...

I'm no criminal, but I was collared by her iron will.

My wife reached across the restaurant table and fingered my shirt. "Did I," she said softly, squinting, "iron that collar?" It was more rhetorical than a question aimed at soliciting a response from me.

In other words, she is a concerned woman when it comes to turning me out to face the public.

Casual attireIn self-defense, I confess I've never striven to be a sartorial showboat. Casual attire is my preference. For example, when I retired from punching a time clock 20 years ago, I gave away all my ties - all three of them.

However, confidentially, in an emergency, a search of my dresser drawers would probably unearth an ascot.

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Truth is, my wife did not iron the shirt I was wearing that afternoon. After the garment emerged from the laundry room, I buttoned it immediately on a hanger in my closet, convinced that it looked perfectly ready to wear.

Nowadays, who knows the difference? There's such a variety of material on the market, including that which is deliberately manufactured, evidently, to look seedy.

These latter shirts do add so much to the appearance of those fellows who go without shaving for a few days and who comb their hair straight up.

I tried combing my hair in that manner, then sashayed into the kitchen to surprise my wife. It didn't work. Couldn't pull it off with a straight face.

IroningAw, too bad, isn't it, that fabrics weren't available years ago requiring little or no ironing, maybe just a touch-up here and there? Would've spared Grandma, my mom, her sistersand housewives everywhere some back-breaking work on those traditionally grueling Monday and Tuesday nights.

In our neighborhood, it was commonplace, while passing in the alley or street, to see a dozen or two crisply ironed shirts hanging in some kitchen, plus a few dresses and aprons, mind you, and the woman of the house still bent laboriously, her arm zipping up and down the ironing board.

My mom was a skilled performer at this, turning out five fresh shirts for Dad's workweek and one for Sunday church. Her three sons also were required to wear shirts and ties to school and in church.

That's right, nix on those sloppy, unfitting, clownish costumes clinging to certain children today. I can almost hear my teacher, "Hayes, out in the hall! Pull up those pants, mister! Tuck that shirt in!"

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Wrinkle-freeOne of my aunts, God rest her, also ironed my uncle's laundered underwear. Wasn't that a tad lavish? Or not? I don't know.

Recently in a supermarket, I caught myself pondering that question. Which cashier, stock clerk or butcher was wearing ironed underclothing?

I reached no conclusions, but the game was fun while it lasted. Do I recommend it? Why not? About all I can tell you positively, ladies and gentlemen, after all my years, is that the world we live in, alas, is far from wrinkle-proof.

Oh. And my wife doesn't iron my undies.

Retired Sentinel staffer Ed Hayes, 82, welcomes your views and suggestions. Write to him in care of the Orlando Sentinel, MP-72, P.O. Box 2833, Orlando, FL 32802-2833.

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