Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The sociology of a bit of cloth

Dinner with friends M&K last night was delightful as always (although a bit stressful for my sweetie trying to get through DC traffic on "peak Cherry Blossom day". ) But once we were all together we engaged in nonstop laughing. Then this morning I got to sleep in a bit. I had to report for jury duty you see and was very excited to be excused very early on without having to even go before the judge for selection like last time. What a relief!

If you're wondering why I've posted the picture I have here, it's because when I was on the train today I found myself staring at and thinking about the ties men wear. I wrote yesterday about dressing little boys up in suits and so today I got to thinking about the utility (or lack thereof) of ties today.

I've decided that since men tend to be stuck in a uniform (at least if they work in offices in places like DC) their tie is sort of the last resort for adding creativity and style. But I also think that ties for men are kind of like the breast feathers on male birds. They broadcast something--men actually seem to preen at times as they adjust their ties before speaking.

I worked with two men in my agency who were fairly senior level. One, whom I'll call Jim, spent a ton of money on his clothes and wore things like braces (never ever call them suspenders.) His buddy George on the other hand bought his clothes at a department store off the rack (apparently this was unfathomable to Jim). Anyway, someone once commented that Jim spent more on his ties than George spent on his suits. The funny thing was that they were both offended but for different reasons. Too funny.

There was a commercial for the Washington Post "personals" a few years ago where a man and a woman end up at her door after what appeared to be a successful first date. She seductively grabs his tie to pull him closer for a kiss. But was a clip on and it snapped off in her hands. You should have seen the look of horror as she turned and fled. Again, I guess there must be something in men's ties that broadcast something.

I actually learned how to tie a man's tie when I was a kid. I rememeber watching my dad put his on every day and it seemed pretty easy so I asked him to show me. I practiced it a few times and I realized it was easy. I've never worn a tie--I apparently avoided Madonna and Cyndi Lauper for that week in the 1980s although I think that there is photographic evidence that I did have an ascot in 4th grade.

But on the day of my dad's funeral nearly 5 years ago, my youngest brother admitted to me that he didn't know how to tie a tie. He's always worked with his hands and just somehow avoided having to ever wear one. I took the tie he'd borrowed and put it around my neck to get it started, then put it over his to make it fit right. Neil looked so grown up and handsome. It was quite touching for me I could almost picture my dad watching this whole scene. Of course that might have been just the tears that we were both crying.

So in review. I don't really understand why men have to wear ties. I do think they can look really nice, though but I'm sure that I'd sure hate to wear one every day. And lastly, "preen" is a really funny word. -Monica

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