The Tie That Binds


Ah, the tie. The ubiquitous tie. Everyone knows what it is, nobody seems to know what it is for. Other than lashing around a guy’s neck, I mean. Even that, you’d have to ask, why?

Of all the pieces of apparel that a man may have on him, the tie has the least functional purpose. Think about it. The shoes are for walking. The socks protect the feet from the shoes, or maybe it’s the other way round. Since it isn’t kosher in most places to walk around in your jockey shorts – or without them – the trousers come to the rescue. Also they help the guy who loathes his own legs, thinking them too skinny, too stumpy, too hairy, too hairless, as the case maybe. The belt, well, the belt helps to hold up the trousers, otherwise everything that you may be trying so hard to conceal may show. The shirt covers the torso, and the fact that you have too much chest-hair, or too little, or none at all, however you feel about the presence or absence of hair on your chest. The jacket comes in handy in an air conditioned room, especially during some seminar or conference in a hotel, which typically seems honour-bound to freeze the brains out of the participants; plus the truth is, a well-tailored one camouflages unseemly bulges in the wrong places.

But a tie – what does a tie do?

The few defenders of the tie – and I suspect these are the purveyors of this otherwise worthless piece of garb – say that the tie helps to frame a man’s face and define his personality. Funny, I thought a face needs to be framed only if you happen to be the president or some other titular head of state and your picture needs to be hung on the wall of every public premise. Or, on special occasions, such as a funeral. Last time I checked, my trusty Webster’s defines personality as “the complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual; the totality of an individual’s behavioural and emotional characteristics.”

A tie can do all this? Give me a break!

For a piece of fabric which serves little or no apparent purpose at all, one pays – can pay – a lot of money. One of those touted as being made of Italian silk and coming from a well-known fashion house can set you back quite a bit. Enough to buy you many more pieces of another accessory which has some real functional value.

I am referring to the pocket handkerchief. You can wipe your mouth with it, dap the perspiration off your forehead, dry your hands after visiting the loo – if you wash your hands after, that is — and blow your snort into it.

Can a tie be used for any of these ?

I suppose it could, but I doubt that any sane wearer of the tie would go that far to prove the point. Of course, this assumes that any willing wearer of the tie is sane in the first place, which seems to contradict the point that I’m trying so hard to make.

The point is that there is no point to the tie.

I don’t know who invented the tie, but I rather suspect it was a woman. The tie, I think, was dreamed up by some woman who wanted a more decorous and decorative substitute for a leash. To tug at her man if he should choose to stray, and the better to hang him out to dry if he should succeed. If she wished to express her feelings more powerfully, she could even make him choke or croak, as the spirit leads.

Think about it, before the advent of the tie which man would of his own accord subject himself to this unnatural piece of encumbrance? I have a sneaky suspicion that given his rathers, no right thinking man would want to be caught dead with this ridiculous looking monstrosity all knotted up and hanging from his throat. But look how far we have come – today, it seems that no self-respecting man would want to seen lying in his box without a specimen draping his lanquid chest.

On the other hand, it could have been thought up by some enterprising designer in the men’s fashion business, and as I understand it, in the industry, this is usually a guy. Infused with a desire to create a piece of accoutrement which costs very little to assemble, but could be sold by the millions or billions, he came up with this ingenious idea of a piece of cloth which could be wounded around a man’s neck, and you’ve got her tied, I mean hooked for life.

Yes, you read right. I did say “her” and not “him”. This is because I think the original target customer was the woman, not the man. As you know, most women love presents, and they love to buy presents for their men. Perhaps it is a way to remind the guys that they need to express their love in similar fashion. And men, being men, you need to remind them frequently. But how many shirts or suits or belts can you buy for a guy? How many does he need? But a tie, ah a tie is different. There is no end to the number of ties you can get him. And frankly, a tie saves the woman lots of headaches. She doesn’t have to crack her brains over it. Comes present time, she could just go out and get him a tie. Especially if she can’t think of anything else, or more often than not, has plain forgotten, till it’s almost too late. It’s the easiest thing to do – grab one off the rack. Tell him that that particular tie, which she had actually bought without too much thought, “suits his personality”, and she will have him wrapped around her fingers. Until the next time she feels she needs to enhance his personality, or change it.

Either way, I think the woman is the one to blame – I mean to thank – for the tie. For which self- respecting man would voluntarily suggest something that will inextricably change and complicate his life, and that of mankind (as opposed to woman-kind) for all eternity?

(To be continued next week.)

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