How to Starch Wranglers Correctly

When Don and I first got married, I would do anything to make him happy. I adored him and wanted him to think I was the most perfect wife in the world.

I baked bread. I always sent him off on a trip with homemade cookies or cake. I took care of all the gardening and yardwork, house repairs, had a job of my own etc. He drove truck and so I tried to make sure when he got home, there was nothing for him to do but relax and uhhh, catch up on a few things.

He, like most cowboys, wore his pants starched so heavy they would nearly stand up by themselves. Well-starched pants often require sticking a broom handle down the leg to get the fabric apart. It’s a cowboy thing. He stopped taking his pants to the laundry when we got married because there was no reason I couldn’t do that.

I tried every kind of starch I could find and nothing suited him. After a few months of listening to him complaining that I couldn’t get his pants starched as well as the laundry, I hit on the solution.

I bought several boxes of starch that you had to cook and soak the clothes in. It called for one box for a load, but I used five and instead of using the washing machine, I cooked them one-by-one in my canning pot on the stove.

They turned out perfect. He would be so thrilled with me I couldn’t wait for him to get home for more reasons than one.

When it came time for him to leave, I handed him the freshly starched pants to put in his clothes bag.

“Did you do these?”

“Yep,” I answered with pride.

He nodded in approval. “You finally learned how to iron pants right. Good job.”

I was beaming.

He called two days later, and sounded distinctly unhappy. “I wore some of the pants you starched.”

I was excited, but what was he unhappy about? He was going to tell me how great they were.

“I stopped at a truck stop in Phoenix and went in to pee.”

Well, all right, that’s nice, but really not something that interests me a lot.

“The starch you used was so heavy it glued the zipper together.”

Hmmm. Apparently body heat was enough to melt the five-box starch mixture and make glue. How interesting.

“I had to cut the zipper out to get out of the pants.”

“Did you cut anything important to me?”


“Well, there you go. What are you complaining about?”

Fortunately, he still had to go to California and back to Texas so that gave him plenty of time to cool down. He took his pants to the laundry when he got home.


  1. FINALLY read this.

    And see, this is just one more reason why I’ve always done my own laundry.

    (OTOH, I never never never starch anything. And I don’t like my jeans with creases down the front.) (Everybody’s a snob about something, including the people like me who are snobs about not being snobs.)

    But it did make me think about something… I’ve heard variations of the phrase “When I was learning to be a [house]wife,” explicitly or (as here) implicitly, probably a jillion times. In the context of cooking, in the context of cleaning, when talking about doing laundry, etc.

    So how come you never hear a guy start off a story, “When I was learning how to be a husband”?

    Is husband-ing just something it’s assumed you can just walk into off the street or something?

    Or is it because there’s no “was” about it — that any guy who ever began as a husband is still trying to get a handle on it?

    Ah, the mysterious pathways of the human mind… Or maybe just the forever-learning husband’s [g].

  2. John, I had grown up taking care of younger brothers and sisters, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, so I was a step ahead of some women.

    However, I did adore him and wanted to be perfect in his eyes. Little did I realize there was no such thing, but I tried for 35 years.

    As for husbands, I think perhaps they just assume if they have a job and make love to their wife, the important parts are covered. They can learn the rest if they must.

  3. Serves him right! Did he ever complain about the way you did laundry again? lol
    When I was a new wife we were going to a picnic and had to bring cole slaw. My husband (who loves to cook) was cutting up the cabbage (I didn’t even know cole slaw was cabbage!) and I got out a big pot and started filling it with water. He asked what I was doing and I said it was to cook the cabbage. He told me I could go sit down and watch TV.
    How was I supposed know that coleslaw was raw cabbage???

  4. I was thinking over at JR’s how the hell did I miss the post on starching
    Wranglers??? Oh. 2009. When I was still in the hell called working at Nortel. That’s why. Writing was but a vague thought/dream back then.

    I know you loved Don – but he sounded a bit like an ass. Maybe he had a nice one?

    C ya over at the Reef.

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