Last night I was helping a kid put on his tie prior to a concert.
“But I don’t want to wear a tie,” he moaned as I slipped it over his head.
“I know,” I said, tightening it around his neck. “I don’t ever wear a tie, but I’m an adult. I can make that choice.”
And it’s true. With the exception of those times when I find myself as a member of my sister-in-law’s bridal party or one is required (black tie affairs, etc.), I do not wear ties. I refuse to wear them. I find the garment to be an uncomfortable, illogical, and purposeless adornment that heralds from an irrelevant, bygone day.
It’s also a noose, quite capable of being used to choke the life out of the wearer, which just adds to its stupidity.
Men wear ties because other men wear ties and for no other discernible reason.
What I wanted to tell the kid last night was this:
“Look, kid. After years of being encouraged to be yourself, not to follow the crowd, and refuse to submit to peer pressure, I have some bad news for you. You can be yourself, but just as long as it fits into society’s perception of the norm. It’s great that you want to find your own style and dare to be different, but you’ll need to do it while wearing a tie. We tell you to be yourself and march to your own drummer, but we don’t really mean it.”
This contradiction is at the heart of my second novel, UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO.
It’s also why I was so overjoyed to hear that the President relaxed the dress codes in The White House upon taking over, despite the nonsensical flack that he took from his opponents over his supposed disregard for the institution of the Presidency.
While former President Bush required jackets and ties in the Oval Office at all times, Obama has no need for these archaic and artificial gestures of respect.
Respect the office by working hard and honestly for the American people. If you want to remove your jacket or come in without a tie, by all means do so.