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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Such are the ties that bind you

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

All those years of growing up watching my dad trudge off to work every day in a suit and tie, made me vow early on that I was never was going to be that guy.

I was never going to be the guy in the button-down collar and the Windsor knot. Was never going to put that noose around my neck and cinch it up tight.

He was a personnel manager. Had to look the part. I was going to be a writer. If I wanted to look the part, like Hemingway I could grow a beard, roll up my sleeves and hang out at Sloppy Joe's.

OK, so I'm a hypocrite. Been wearing a darned necktie for the better part of the past 25 years. Outlasted the wide tie craze, the skinny tie craze, the double-knit craze and the psychedelic paisley period. Even resisted, thankfully, that goofy western tie fad.

No ascots, no bolos, no clip-ons. And -- with apologies to Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter -- no bleeping bowties.

Understand please, I really don't believe in fashion statements. I just have my likes and dislikes.

For example, I detest short-sleeve dress shirts. Don't like the way the sleeve is always a touch too long so it hits the bend of your arm. Don't like the way the great clothiers of the world -- T.J. Maxx and J.C. Penney, of course -- are intent upon designing short-sleeve shirts for someone with the biceps of The Incredible Hulk.

But ties are another thing. I can really get into ties. Matching their colors with the right shirt. Pairing a tie with the right socks. It's a simple pleasure really, especially after basically wearing logo-embossed polo shirts most of the past six years.

Then suddenly over the last few days, the fact I am wearing a tie or not wearing a tie has become something of an issue (like I've said before, old newspaper editors have issues).

First, after a long day at the Putnam County Fair last Thursday, I had loosened my tie, unbuttoned the third button down on my monochrome shirt and tucked the tail of the tie inside to keep it from getting caught up in my next activity.

Slumping back into my chair in the corner of the newsroom, I was a hot, sweaty, itchy mess from humidity, the fair and poison ivy (in no particular order), when Advertising Andrea appeared.

"I like this new look," she said, pointing in the direction of my shortened, partially hidden tie.

Ah, sarcasm ...

Too weak to fight, I could only shake my head.

With Friday (casual Friday, Friday, Friday) on the horizon, I decided for once it was finally too hot, too humid and too sticky for a tie. I even picked a lightweight, albeit long-sleeved, shirt to wear for my final day of fair coverage.

No sooner had I set foot in the newsroom when our intern-turned-short-timer Andrew piped up with: "Mr. Bernsee's not wearing a tie! Mr. Bernsee's not wearing a tie!"

Geez, I thought the sky was falling, Chicken Little. Heads turned. Mouths gaped. The earth shifted (not really).

Momentarily I wanted to spin around and look for my father. Then I realized Andrew was actually making a fashion statement about me. Guess he hasn't liked his recent pay raise ...

That's fine, I thought. Make fun. At least I'm going to be comfortable.

And I was. Right up until my neighbor stopped his SUV in front of my house Monday as I was taking the dog on his morning constitutional on what was already a humid day.

Properly attired himself, he rolled down the window to ask/remark: "Why are we wearing these ties anyway?"

Out of respect for the positions we hold. Out of respect for the public we deal with. Out of respect for people we will meet for the first time that day ...

That's the way I look at it.

All that and the weird looks I get when I walk into the Beef Barn or make a pitstop at McDonald's on another 95-degree day.

Like proverbially making it New York, if you can wear a tie to the Putnam County Fair, you can wear it anywhere. Hmm, must have inherited that trait somehow.

Don't mean to get all choked up about it. Guess I was just bound to be tied to ties.