de Vos: Winners lose the tie
The Friday Report
In a meeting the other day I was sitting next to some guy from the city. I figured he was city because he was wearing a tie. It looked uncomfortable. During a lull I leaned over to him and said, “Did you know there are more dogs in Grand County than ties?”
For several moments, it was like he was staring at the “Indigenous Hillbilly” exhibit at the Denver Zoo. Then he sidled away to talk to other ties. I’d just wanted to explain to him that Grand County folks view ties suspiciously. But I gave up because I know it’s not that way in the city, where ties are as much a sign of indenture as ankle scars. Whether a slave to mammon or a slave to fashion, wearing a silk noose means you’re serving somebody.
Chinese warriors were wearing fancy ties 2,200 years ago, as sported by the terracotta soldiers dug up in 1974 in Xian, China. The widely accepted origin of today’s necktie was from the uniforms of Croatian soldiers around 1640, possibly more to tie back their coats than sartorial splendor. And that’s the best explanation as to why men wear ties today.
Once, in a faraway land, I had a job where wearing a tie was more important than wearing pants. Style outweighed substance. I could tie my tie in my sleep. I could tie my tie driving seventy-five miles per hour. I could tie my tie eating cereal on a bus, or running around my apartment shrieking about my missing (again) briefcase. I owned more ties than there were days of the week. I’d drag them out from under the bed like reluctant snakes.
If all ties are stupid, the stupidest tie of all is the bolo tie, the official state neckwear of Arizona. The story goes that a Wickenburg cowboy’s hat blew off. He went to get it but it whirled behind his horse which promptly pooped on it. The cowboy dumped the hat but salvaged his silver and leather hatband, hanging it around his neck for the ride home. Upon arriving, his wife was smitten with his smart new look. The rest became history when some fool patented it in 1947.
The bolo tie was championed by Barry Goldwater, who is best remembered as the inventor of the solar powered flagpole that automatically raised and lowered a huge American flag in front of his Paradise Valley home in Arizona. In a pinnacle of political enthusiasm, the Arizona legislature made it the official state necktie in 1971 despite robust pleas for leaving it under the horse poop.
Sometimes when we’re traveling, for reasons that baffle me, my wife will insist that I buy a tie for some painful gala occasion that’s not even on the books yet. Because of her peculiar idiosyncrasy, I have ties-in-waiting for that special moment just over the horizon; that special occasion where only a hand-painted dog on a tie from some quaint little shop in Old Town La Jolla will do.
Women don’t usually wear ties. However, I suspect that behind every good tie there’s a satisfied woman browbeating a sullen man to wear one. Surely we wouldn’t do that to ourselves, would we guys?
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