“And for your wedding gift, I am giving you my ironing board. It’s stood the test of time. That should satisfy the “something old and something blue” categories you know. They just don’t make ‘em like they used to,” said my mother one month before the wedding.
She set her sights on a new five-pound ironing board.
“Richard will really appreciate the luxury of ironed sheets,” she said with approval.
The 40-pound blue-anodized aluminum ironing board circa 1947 with optional iron rest arrived with my parents’ blessing, a large bow and a box of thank you notes.
“Fannie, it’s been two days, I haven’t seen a thank you note yet.”
“Mom, I wrote it out on the new stationery you gave me and mailed it the same day.”
The note arrived the next day.
“Fannie, I got you note, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the ironing board. It will last forever,” she said pausing for a moment. “You know, your Aunt Verla gave it to your father and me as a wedding present.”
“Well, you can let Aunt Verla know we will take good care of it.”
“She will want visitation rights,” said my mother no longer burdened with custody of the gift.
Two days later the sympathy cards arrived from my sisters, rejoicing they dodged that particular bullet.
“Fannie, I forbid you from ever ironing my sheets, ever. And if a sheet looks pristine I will crumple it up on general principle,” said Richard.
He kept his word.
The ironing board made special appearances before any holiday and those times we needed to look professional.
Eight years later we saved enough to buy a home. It coincided with my aunt and uncle selling their house and moving to a condo.
“Fannie, Richard, we’re so glad you’re buying the house, I couldn’t bear it leaving the family. You know your mother and I were born here. Your Uncle Carl has added a hook to the wall in the broom closet to hold your ironing board,” said Aunt Verla, “as our way of saying thank you.”
On moving day, four cars sat parked in the cul-de-sac waiting for the moving truck to arrive.
When we arrived, my family poured from their vehicles to help up move in.
The movers, overwhelmed by the audience, asked them, “Would you please move out of the way so we can finish our job?”
Richard pulled one of the dining room chairs from the moving van. Aunt Verla blocked his path.
“Richard, have you seen the ironing board?” asked Aunt Verla tapping her foot.
“Not since this morning when we packed it into the truck.”
“Well let me know the minute you find it, I want to see how it looks hanging in the closet.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Richard, rolling his eyes as he went in search of the ironing board.
From the corner of the garage between aisles of stacked boxes my sister, Lenora Jane, called out, “Richard, I found it.”
Richard pulled it from the corner, the family crowding him.
“If you can give me some room, we can get this put away,” he said trying to hide his annoyance.
My mother held the door open. Following my aunt, Richard entered the house. My aunt opened the broom closet door. The hook waited to claim its prize. Richard placed the board on the hook while the women of the family held their collective breath. The board stayed in place.
Two minutes later a succession of tail lights disappeared down the street.
“Thank heaven that’s over with, now we can actually move in,” I said.
“Fannie, some day I am going to get rid of that ridiculous ironing board,” said Richard.
“You mean the 40-pounds of pure ironing pleasure that falls on you almost every time you get near it? If you do get rid of it, I want to be far, far away because Aunt Verla will have a cow and two cotton kittens.”
Two hours later, the movers left, leaving a trail behind them.
“Fannie, I am going to clean up a bit of this debris. Have you seen the vacuum?” asked Richard looking around.
“Yeah I put it in the broom closet next to the ironing board, wanted to make sure we could find it when we needed it,” I said exhaustion catching up to me. “I’m going to make the bed so we can fall in when we’re ready.”
Richard grabbed the vacuum from the closet hooking the bottom of the ironing board. The board tottered, slipping from the hook. He threw his arm out to catch the board pinning it between the board and vacuum.
Hearing the crash, I ran into the hallway.
“Would you get this bloody ironing board off me?” he asked pain radiating up his arm.
Taking the board off him, we examined his arm.
“You’re going to have one heck of a bruise but nothing else,” I said with relief.
Richard glared at the ironing board for a moment. His shoulders stiffening, he rolled the vacuum down the hall disappearing around the corner. The vacuum roared to life. I finished making the bed.
The telephone rang somewhere in the house. The clock read 6:18 a.m.
“Don’t answer that,” I said rolling over.
“It’s either your mother or your aunt,” said Richard sliding the blankets off me.
“Exactly, don’t answer it. We will call them back at a decent hour. Besides, do you remember where we put the telephone?” I asked pulling the blankets back up.
Ten minutes later the phone rang again.
“I’m unplugging the phone,” I said staggering out of bed.
I made it as far as the hallway when the doorbell rang.
“This is a nightmare,” I said stumbling toward the door, “we are going to have to set down some ground rules.”
On the porch stood Aunt Verla and an embarrassed Uncle Carl.
“Fannie, when you didn’t answer the phone we decided you probably didn’t have it hooked up yet. I couldn’t wait to tell you the news. So we decided to come over and tell you in person, we know it’s not your turn, but you and Richard have been nominated to host the next family holiday,” said Aunt Verla pausing long enough to draw a breath. “Your mother and I were discussing it this morning and thought it would be a great way to host your first open house welcoming the family.”
She stopped long enough to allow me to respond. I stood there staring at her.
Looking at me for the first time since I opened the door, Aunt Verla said, “Fannie, you look a mess, you’re not even dressed yet. The day is already half over, what’s the matter?”
Taking a deep breath I said, “Good morning Aunt Verla, Uncle Carl. We were up half the night unpacking and decided to sleep in. The phone is plugged in, however, we are not going to answer it until after 9 a.m. If you decide to call before then, you will have to wait until that time for a response. Additionally, after this we won’t be answering the door until after 9 a.m. unless we are expecting you. So I request you call first instead of assuming you can just barge in anytime you want.”
Aunt Verla stiffened and Uncle Carl turned away so she wouldn’t see him laughing. Her jaw pumped up and down a few times but no sound followed.
Pouncing on the moment of silence, I said, “We would be happy to host, we will send out formal invitations once we are settled in. I will be serving coffee and danishes at 10 a.m. and you are welcome to come back then. Now if there is nothing further, I am going back to bed.”
“We’ll see you at 10,” said a grinning Uncle Carl guiding a stunned Aunt Verla back to the car.
“Wow, Miss Spunky, I didn’t know you had it in you,” said Richard putting his arms around me as I climbed back into bed. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard your aunt quiet that many seconds in a row.”
“It may not happen again for a while, you better enjoy it while it lasts,” I said, “they’ll be back over at 10.”
“Who do you think was the other caller?”
“My mother. I’m sure she will hear all about it before I call her back. She’ll be so pissed Aunt Verla beat her to the punch,” I said chuckling at the thought.
My parents’ mobile land yacht pulled into our driveway at 9:45 a.m. followed by Aunt Verla and Uncle Carl at 9:55, my sisters arrived ten minutes later.
The coffee and danishes disappeared followed by everyone helping us move in.
Uncle Carl grabbed the box knife from the kitchen counter to open a box on the kitchen table. My mother grabbed a twenty pound bag of rice heading toward the pantry. They collided midstream. Rice spilled to the floor.
Aunt Verla ready to save the day, dashed down the hall and grabbed the vacuum from the broom closet just as Richard exited the guest bathroom. Startled, she yanked the vacuum cleaner from the closet. The vacuum’s canister caught the ironing board pulling it out, hook and all. It clattered to the floor falling toward Aunt Verla.
She screamed as the board hit the vacuum. The vacuum pushed her into the wall making her grunt. The ironing board rebounded onto Richard forcing him backwards into the door with a loud thud.
Pain spread across Richard’s face like a wildfire. Everyone froze.
“Richard, Richard, are you all right?” I asked in a panic.
“I’ve had it with this board,” he said, his voice low, and steady. “I should have done this a long time ago.”
He picked up the board and headed toward the garage.
Stepping in front of him, Aunt Verla asked, “Where do you think you are going with that ironing board young man?”
Richard looked her in the eye. Rising up to his full height he towered over her like a giant. Aunt Verla bit her lip.
“I’m doing what should have been done a long time ago, I’m getting rid of this monstrosity.”
Brushing passed her, he carried the board to his car, threw it into the trunk with a resounding crash, slammed the lid, rounded to the driver’s side and got in. Every male member of the family jumped into the car with him. He threw the car in reverse. Gunning the engine, the tires squealing.
Without a word he drove to the dump. Paying the ten dollars, he backed up to the stall indicated and opened the trunk.
The men poured out of the car to watch.
Ripping the ironing board from the trunk, he took a running start, let loose a blood curdling scream while heaving the board over the top of him like a caber.
It sailed through the air, end over end, crashing on the bottom of the pit, metal against concrete. After a moment of silence, wild cheers and applause broke out. Everyone clapping him on the back as he returned to the car.
They returned home.
Aunt Verla never mentioned it again.