My mother, who still irons shoestrings, asked me the other day if I had slept in the blouse I was wearing. I told her I had given up ironing until they figured out this magnetic field mess. I certainly didn't want to endanger my health if appliances are giving off electromagnetic currents.

She reminded me of the time when my son was in a grade school play and I ironed only the trouser leg that faced the audience. I'm really glad she brought that up.Call it a sixth sense, but I have always had a feeling that ironing could ravage your youth and throw you into severe depression - if you did it right. That is why for years I have ironed only on demand. The business of wheter or not these electrical fields from an iron contribute adversely to my health only reinforces my original decision to iron as little as possible.

Ironing is a legacy our mothers never succeeded in passing on to their children. Today's woman asks certain basic questions before she plugs in her iron:

1. Does this piece of apparel still fit?

2. Will it be put on a body or hang in the closet?

3. How much of it is going to show? Be tucked in? Hidden under a sweater? Worn in the dary or under a bright light?

4. Will it come in contact with anyone who will ever see you again?

As for the next generation, my children have only one question: "What is an iron?"

I remember as a kid watching my grandmother, who took in ironing for a living. When she wasn't hanging it on the line, she was taking it down, sprinkling it withwater, rolling it up and storing it in her icebox until she could ge around to ironing all of it. And she ironed everything. There was a large mangle in her basement into which she used to feed sheets. The came out of too hot even to touch.

And where are all those women who, at the turn of the century, ironed their brains out? They're all dean now. I rest my case.

As I told Mother, I am not rady to compromise my health for a collar ironed on both sides or a pair of wrinkle-free slacks. I'm sorry, buy my well-being is more important than a smooth pillowcase under my head at night.

That is why my iron remains unplugged and athere is a sign on my ironing board that reads, "STOP ME BEFORE I KILL AGAIN!"