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I iron exactly four times a year.

I have pie-charted and bar-graphed the shit out of this, and given my historical iron use, we can predict with great accuracy that two of those iron uses will involve ironing something for a dude 40 minutes before a wedding.

The third use will involve ironing something for myself, 20 minutes before that first wedding.

(Barring wine stains or repeat guests at the second wedding, I will wear the same thing, slightly crumpled, and use loud jewelry and more wine as diversions.)

If I’m lucky, the fourth annual go ’round with the iron will involve something fatally cool like a 3 a.m. grilled cheese sandwich, but more often than not I end up ironing something I never dreamed I would iron, like a lace tablecloth, my hair or someone’s mom’s nightgown.

And that’s exactly what I ironed this week.

Someone’s. Mom’s. Pajamas.

How I ended up with someone’s mom’s nightgown is a rad story involving wine, Czechs and a barbecue.

However, we’re working within a word count here and so we’ll skip right to the part where I was handed something the size of an envelope. It was bleached white, folded to 1/8-inch thickness and smelled faintly of perfume.

I immediately assumed it was a handkerchief, a baby’s onesie or perhaps even a half-shirt. And while this may be news for those of you who live in my ‘hood, halfies are not an acceptable replacement for pants.

So I balked.

But it was a whole nightgown.

In my mitts was something as beautiful and rare as a Robocop riding a unicorn — this nightgown was starched, ironed and folded with an expertise that would compel the greatest origami master to commit seppuku upon seeing it.

And now I was going to unfold, wrinkle and possibly spill grape juice on it. There wasn’t any grape juice around, but that’s the kind of thing that happens when I wear white — grape juice out of nowhere.

I couldn’t sleep, worrying how I’d return it to its owner in its original grandeur. I was raised by wolves, you see, and they didn’t put much emphasis on laundering techniques; it was all “Stay with the pack” and “Go for the throat.”

But the first step seemed obvious, so I hit the laundromat.

And then I bought an iron.

Four seconds into my ironing experience, I got mad.

The over-the-door ironing board I bought kept banging banging banging against the door while I practiced ironing a dark dress I like wrinkled. The dress survived, so I busted out a white shirt to find out if the obnoxiously colored cover for the board would stain clothing.

The shirt remained white after a few passes, so I stopped. I now have a shirt with creased sleeves, a semi-pressed back and a collar that looks like a crumpled fast food bag — perfect for interviews.

I then ironed The Nightgown — which after 20 minutes of focused work, looked only slightly better than it did fresh out of the dryer.

That’s when I attempted to fold the damn thing and things really went to hell.

It looked like a tumbleweed when I was done “folding” it. This was a nightie-mare.

I gave up after pressing it under a stack of books and opted for the distraction of a thank you note and some chocolate.

The thank you note (which I had to write by looking individual words up in Czech) either reads, “Mrs. Kafka. Thank you for the pajamas. It was so nice. Have a good vacation!” or, “Miss Kafka. Thank the pajama. It is kind. Enjoy tripping.”

Either way, I think the $3 on chocolate was smart money.

Jeanine Fritz writes about undergarments and their proper care every Friday in the Colorado Daily.