Only REAL men can iron clothes at 3,000 feet

Today’s entry for Flashback Sunday was originally inspired by my need to reclaim my masculinity from somewhere beneath the growing pile of ironing in our home. Being that this falls under my umbrella of responsibilities, it was necessary to make it as dangerous — and therefore manly — as possible. You can be the judge as to whether it was Mission Accomplished or Mission Impossible…

To prepare for the 2013 Extreme Ironing Championships, I have begun training at the Eugene Airport. My cardio and resting heart rate have improved dramatically thanks to my running partners at airport security!
I have reached the conclusion that most of the world’s ironing is now being done by men. I say this because it’s the only explanation I have for a sport called “extreme” ironing, which is actually being lobbied as an Olympic event by “ironing enthusiasts” — a phrase referred to in the Bible as a sign of the coming apocalypse.

“And four horsemen will come from the sky. And they will lay waste to the land, but not before having their robes pressed by ironing enthusiasts.”

It’s easy to understand how extreme ironing evolved if you keep in mind this simple truth about the male species:

Given enough time, any man performing a mundane task will find a way to hurt himself.

And if you can hurt yourself doing it, then it’s practically a sport already. Sure, bowling and golf may appear to be exceptions to this rule. But ask anyone who has ever jammed their finger in the ball return, or inadvertently left a tee in their back pocket, and they’ll tell you there is plenty of danger involved.

As a man who irons, I know, firsthand, the danger that comes with pressing my daughters’ favorite clothes. Especially if I use the wrong setting and turn what was once a flowery cotton blouse into our newest hand towel. Until recently, men who ironed were looked upon as being wimpy. This was a stigma left over from an earlier time when men brought home the bacon and women cooked it …

… Then cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed, washed the dishes, bathed the kids, and did all the laundry. Back then, men who refused to perform domestic chores were still called masculine things such as “The Breadwinner,” “King of the Castle,” and “Man of the House.”

Generally by other men.

Today, men who want to bring home the bacon — while avoiding any domestic chores — are called other things, such as “single” or “recently divorced.”

As a result, we men have come up with a way to demonstrate our unquestionable maleness by 1) taking a simple task and 2) making it as difficult as humanly possible. This is the general idea behind “extreme” ironing, which, according to its website ( “combines the excitement of an ‘extreme’ sport with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.”

Being a man, I can appreciate that kind of logic.

Anyone woman can iron a pair of slacks; it takes a MAN to do it while jumping out of a plane.

Because of this, I have decided to train for the 2013 Extreme Ironing World Championships, which my daughters have pledged their support for by providing me with as much ironing to do as possible. In fact, as a demonstration of their unselfish commitment to my goal, they each recently purchased entire new wardrobes, none of which is “wrinkle free.”

My hope is that the experience will draw us even closer together as a family.

At least, once I can find them on the other side of this pile of ironing.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at, or at Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR. 97439)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

42 thoughts on “Only REAL men can iron clothes at 3,000 feet”

  1. 2013 Extreme Ironing World Championships?! Oh, brother. This post cracks me up! Yes, it is funny the terms we men and women call each other… All I can say is, “Way to go, Ned!” I hope you post pics. 😉

    1. It’s all in the starch, really. I tried spray starch, but it just blew into my face on the way down. Now, I brush on a corn starch mixture. I also switched to a battery-operated iron. The first few times was like bungee jumping once the cord ran out. These are the kinds of tips you learn as an Olympic hopeful.

  2. I loved this post! I know I’m a woman but I understand men pretty well and I agree that they make mundane things more exciting and challenging just because they’re, well, men. I lol-ed while reading this. Loved it!

    1. Thanks, Leslie Jo 🙂 And yes, it sounds like you’ve pretty much figured us out. Making something a challenge is more important than making it logical or practical.

  3. Ned, your blog really helps make my days a little easier. In fact, you’re officially on my “People I’ll never have to punch in the throat” list! Congrats!

  4. “Given enough time, any man performing a mundane task will find a way to hurt himself.”

    …while simultaneously turning it into a competition.

    In addition to the finger jam and forgotten tee in the pocket, I think this extra part of how men turn the mundane into sport helps justify how golf and bowling are called sports.

    1. Without question, Paul. I’ve never understood how either can be called a sport. They are competitive activities. Period. If you can drink beer and compete without raising your heart rate, it’s not sport, any more than darts or the bean bag toss are sports. I’m not saying there’s no skill involved, but there’s skilled involved in chess, but it’s not a sport. Unless certain squares have 220 volts running through them.

  5. It just excites me to know there are others in this world who still iron their clothes!! I know this is hard to believe, but this fat bottom girl enjoys being domestic and ironing a man’s clothes. Nothing like the smell of a hot iron hitting a starched shirt to get me all degrees of giddy!!

    1. I’ve been ironing my clothes for years, including my chef coats and pants. Something about the sizzle of a hot iron and starch…kind of like the sound of a really good fajita 😉

        1. That’s truly sweet. You probably didn’t realize at the time that those moments would become fond memories. I keep telling my kids they will eventually come to cherish their memories of doing dishes and taking out the trash, but they don’t believe me 😉

  6. I’m proud to say my husband has perfected ironing but this is because he was forced to. Being in the Navy and having to iron his uniforms, just so, created an ironing monster. Of course, these days the military uniforms are wrinkle free and have creases permanently stitched in…so the men are able to be lazy about their attire.

    1. I still use the military press style on my shirts. I always pressed my chef coats that way, too. I always thought of it as a subliminal message to my cooks that keeping a clean work station and being organized matters. If you look sharp, you feel sharp; if you feel sharp, you cook sharp. Although “sharp” can be a two-edged sword in the kitchen 😉

    1. You work your way up to planes. I started by jumping off the couch with my ironing board, then the back porch, my kids’ tree house, a diving board, the pier… it’s a long, exhausting road to become an Olympic ironing board jumper, and requires your family’s commitment to support you with all that laundry to iron. Mine is really, REALLY supportive in that area.

  7. How many girls does it take to iron one xs shirt? Two! And burns will also be incurred! I hope I can find someone who can iron, it is an art that has eluded me. I read an article once in which Harrison Ford was being interviewed and he said that he loved to iron… too bad he is already taken 😉

    1. Lol! I think Harrison and I would get along pretty well. I iron my wife’s outfit each morning while she’s getting ready. I figure it’s the least I can do considering the extra time it takes to do her hair, which I know she keeps long for me!

  8. No Ned, You are a man of your word.

    Extreme ironing is real, and i learned an interesting fact. No person who has ever participated in extreme Ironing has ever gotten laid. Folded maybe, but never laid.

      1. Ned I’m sorry man. I totally thought you were kidding. I must not have finished your article I re-read it and didn’t realize you were going to participate. Don’t I feel Like an A-hole.
        If it is any consolation, I’m sure that sticking your foot in your mouth will soon be a competitive sport. I would like to know I can still count on your support when I enter the arena!!

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