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  • Sam Salerno

Irons: The True BenchmarK


The Black+Decker Express Steam Iron

I had no idea what to write about today.


But then I went to Target to buy this guy – a Black+Decker Xpress Steam Iron – and it (the idea, not the iron) hit me like a bag of bricks falling out of a seven story window.


Adulting; or, more succinctly, the line between childhood and adulthood.


I know, I know, it's a sensitive issue that stokes the divisive fire between Republicans and Democrats and drags countries into chaos (because we don't have enough of that going on already, right?). But don't get your panties in a knot just yet; you'll rarely find me going on political tirades. Instead, I'm going to shed some light on why I think irons are the concrete differentiator between childhood and adulthood.


Might sound ridiculous, but I put a lot of thought into it so hear me out.


First, a question:


What do you think constitutes becoming an adult?

a) Turning 18 (or 21 or 25)

b) Getting a driver's license

c) Graduating college

d) Purchasing/renting a home/apartment

e) All of the above


The truth is, all of these are typical answers you'll hear from a majority of people who haven't thought too hard about what makes an adult. And none of them are wrong, per se. I just think that the picture is incomplete.


Here's why:


When we're growing up, we look forward to what getting older entails: getting your license is gaining your freedom; turning 18/21/25 means cigarettes, lottery tickets, alcohol, sex, and rental cars; graduating college means...well...not too much these days (yay for expensive pieces of paper!); and having your own place means you can party or retreat all you want with no one to stop you.


All of the above are things that we all more-or-less want. Simply having them, however, doesn't make someone an adult because 1) none of them require much change, and 2) all of them pretty much happen on their own.


Even if you're Benjamin Button, you're going to eventually be 18, 21, and 25; getting your driver's license might scare your parents, but they really don't want to be your chauffeur forever; if you're going into the professional world, you'd better have that expensive piece of paper that says you're really good at sitting in a classroom for extended periods of time: and as much as your parents love you, there comes a time when they're ready for you to fly the coop.


Truth: Age just happens; Adulting doesn't.


Case and point: we all know people who have done all of these things, but we would still consider them children (overgrown children, but children nonetheless).


So, even with all of these big life events, the line for adulthood is still blurry.


Enter the iron. stage left.


How many people have you heard say, "Man, I can't wait to get an iron?" Or have you ever seen "new iron" scrawled across the top of a Christmas or birthday wish list?


My guess? Never.


Irons aren't something that we necessarily want. We don't lose our minds when we unwrap a new iron, nor do we grow up longing for one we can call our own. Outside of making toasted cheesers, irons have one purpose: expelling wrinkles from your clothes so you look more professional/dapper/sharp/enter-your-adjective-here. That's all that they do.


And this is why I think irons are a solid benchmark for adulthood: 1) person has to make a conscious decision to purchase an iron, and 2) this decision is usually the result of the need or desire to look better or more professional.


I have yet to come across a child who truly cares if their clothes are wrinkly or not. The predicament simply never registers for them. I humbly admit that there have been more than a few occasions where my dad stopped me from walking out the door because my shirt was too wrinkly. Whether on my way to church, a family function, or a job interview, it didn't matter –wrinkly clothes don't make the man. They signify that you don't really care about what you look like, or that you don't have the time management skills necessary to look presentable.


Think about the following situations. You might have a college degree, but if you walk into an interview with a noticeably wrinkly shirt, your chances of getting that job are significantly lower. You might have the coolest car on the block, but if you step out looking like a ragamuffin, people will look at you a bit differently. You might own your own apartment or house, but if you go to a formal party with wrinkled pants...I could keep going, but I'm sure you get the picture.


But when someone walks around with nicely ironed clothes, it signifies that they have made the conscious decision to invest both money and time in their appearance.


This, I argue, is one of the critical benchmarks that sets adults apart from children.



So there you have it.


Is this argument foolproof? Probably not. But next time you think about whether or not you should iron that shirt before you walk out the door, think twice about your decision. Your success as an adult may depend on it.


For me, as of April 12, 2018, I can officially say that I've taken a gigantic leap towards adulthood. This Black+Decker Xpress Steam Iron and I are going to be close friends.


And I am already feeling pretty dang sharp.

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