Lisa Currie

By Lisa Currie

I am a firm believer that each of us has special talents — some can draw, some can cook, some can build and/or construct. It takes all different talents to make a community, each individual respecting and finding value in the other’s talent.

I know one talent I don’t have — ironing. I can’t do it. I tried. I tried more than one time. I tried ironing my husband’s shirts, and he would take one look at his pastel-colored limp shape — once defined as a shirt but now marred with millions of creases — and ask: what did you do to this?

In order to save his professional appearance and my own, I decided ironing was a skill better suited to those who know the nuances of this fine and delicate profession, for ironing really is a very exact expertise — all those straight pleats, carefully starched panels, smooth cuffs, and horizontal hems. Actually, ironing may be more art — and not a form this person wants to practice.

That’s why I am a familiar visitor to Woodstock Cleaners. Every week or so, I would take the pile of items that I would not iron to Jong Do Kim, and he would smile and warmly greet me and promise my things by the following week. He never failed.

And because I can’t match his talent, I usually showed up each week to gather my belongings, thus saving me from going to work as a wrinkled mess or…worse…naked.

Well, this week, I found out how committed Mr. Kim really is to my ironing. You see, I left a few things to be “ironed” in late February 2020. That’s right, late February 2020.

Then the pandemic happened.

Because of the pandemic, I spent the next 18 months hiding in my home office in tee-shirts and yoga pants. Who needs to dress when the only thing people can see is what’s on the neck?

So, out of sight is out of mind; those items I left in the cleaners were totally forgotten.

Until recently. I thought I had a blue shirt with embroidery at the bottom. I looked for it. Okay, I actually searched all the closets. I decided I never had it.

Until this week. You see I have returned to the classroom — looking sharp, thanks to Mr. Kim, in my nicely pressed dresses and skirts. Therefore, last week, since I have been dressing in something other than tee-shirts and yoga pants, I had a hefty pile for Woodstock Cleaners. As always Mr. Kim warmly greeted me with his familiar smile, even knew me behind my mask, as he handed me that blue shirt with the embroidery at the bottom — left almost two years ago in his care.

Mr. Kim’s special talent may be his ability to keep me looking as pressed as possible, but his art is preserving relationships through individual connections with people. It’s a commendable art to practice — a talent we should all illustrate.

Toms Brook resident Lisa Currie is a retired professor of English as another language and an adviser at the Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown. She has worked at The Shenandoah Valley Herald and various other newspapers in Virginia.