I had the unfortunate occasion to attend a funeral late last week. Don’t roll your eyes; this isn’t going to be standard ‘carpe-diem’/work-that-Bucket-List-NOW/what-have-you-done-with-your -life kind of post that usually leaks out when one’s life intersects with a monumental event.
Did I just suggest that these posts are word leakage? I might need help.
Anyway, so there’s the thing: truth be told, I’m a not a huge fan of whole funereal culture/industry our society has built up over the years. That said, when someone you know loses someone close to them, I consider it my job to do whatever necessary to support and/or hold those people up.
Even if it means wearing a necktie.
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Traditionally, I’ve always hated wearing ties. Maybe I was soured by that clip-on thing that pinched my tender throat for my First Communion when I was 8. Or perhaps it was three years of tying the ugliest thing I could find around my neck (making certain it largely clashed with my faux-denim “dress shirt”) as I toiled as stock boy/cart-getter/toddler-puke-cleaner/High-Lord-of-the-checkout-lanes at the big K*.
In other words, to me, the necktie has long been a symbol of The Man trying to keep me down. It’s a noose, conceived and made obligatory by a society run by hoity-toity, judgey old people, intent on keeping the vibrant youth in line and out of the profits. And what better way to control those exuberant whipper-snappers than by tying a leash around their necks that prevents proper breathing.
At least, that’s what I figured when I was younger. So after I did my time in the retail mines, I threw aside all my neckties and swore, defiance sparkling in my eyes, “Never Again!” Oh, no, I would not be one of the meek, weak-willed, easily-trodden masses, content to follow wherever I was led like a feverish lemur.
Wait…that’s lemmings, isn’t it? Whatever, no one asked you.
As with most things, though, age brings wisdom. And after donning…and retaining…a neck tie for the better part of an entire day last week, I’ve come to the conclusion that, regardless of what I might have told myself, I was never anti-necktie because it was actually an instrument of society’s grand Plan of Repression.
Hell, society can’t agree on whether we should consider “natural” produce the default expected type of food at a grocery store or a “specialty” good. “Grand Plans” are kind of stretch.
No, no, the real reason I’ve never liked neckties is because, well, I think they’re about uncomfortable as wearing one of those European-style Speedos backwards while sporting a fanny pack. But see, that’s a personal opinion. As it turns out, my neck is a bit more, um, stout than average. In other words, every shirt I’ve ever worn with the top button clasped feels like it’s trying to squeeze my throat shut like that soda straw your buddy’s holding kinked while you’re staring at a cute brunette across the room.
Trying to suck a mouthful of extra-thick chocolate malt through that is a first class ticket direct to Aneurysm-ville.
And that’s typically how I’ve felt wearing a necktie.
That is, until last week. I had to go back to work after the funeral, and taking off the tie didn’t seem like the right thing to do. So I left it on, but freed my captive, gasping trachea by loosening it and opening the collar.
Surprisingly, I got a bunch of compliments. It seems it look, um, nice on me. Turns out that neckties can actually be aesthetically pleasing to others.
As a software engineer—owner a wardrobe full of “programmer wear”—this was something of an epiphany. Who would have guessed that looking nice could be accomplished without a IT-Insider “There’s no place like 127.0.0.1” tee (preferably black, natch)?
So, maybe I was wrong in assuming it was the necktie keeping me down all these years. Maybe, just maybe, sporting a sharp-looking tie to spruce up your torso isn’t such a bad thing. You know, assuming you can still breathe.
What do you think? Should I go out and buy a bunch of paisleys, or are stripes the note of the day.
Or, more importantly, does this mean I’m inching ever closer to becoming a hoity-toity, judgey old person myself?
Maybe it’s time to get one of those old-guy caps?
Tell me! And while you’re at it, quit dressing like a hippie and get off my lawn!
*I’d like to tell you this was back in the Mesozoic days before K-Mart began the massive, global descent into the utter suckage we all know and fear today. But I can’t. I mean, I didn’t feel dirty walking through the place like I do these days, but oh, how it sucked when I worked there. Just, not quite as much as it sucks now.