Neckties and stories from the dark side
by by Rick Norton Assoc. Editor
Nov 17, 2013 | 739 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Of the three people who admitted to reading that column two weeks ago about David Davis’ lighthearted retirement gift to the guys in the newsroom — a cardboard box filled with a decade’s worth of discarded neckties — one asked the inevitable.

“Why do you hate them so?”

My inquisitor dropped by in person. He stood in the office door, the bald spot on the crown of my head probably blinding his view.

Finally, he cleared his throat. My work now officially interrupted, I turned away from the computer and swiveled around to meet his gaze.

He lowered a hand from his eyes, now free from the glare.

In half laugh, half smirk — I can never really tell the difference — my visitor asked bluntly but simply, “So how come you hate neckties so bad?”

Seizing the moment, I motioned to the visitor’s chair closest to my own.

“Sit grasshopper,” I suggested. “We have much to discuss.”

Unaccustomed to such invitations into my office — I tend to keep distractions cordial but brief — he sat.

I was wearing a light brown, solid necktie to complement my plaid shirt of tan and white. It was short-sleeved, my resistance to the approaching cold of autumn as fearless as ever. The tight knot of the tie was not yet loosened. But the remaining hours of its strangling grip were in short number.

My visitor wore no tie. It was not a part of his job description. He savored all that is good in the world of work. He was adorned in an unbuttoned polo shirt — dark blue, as I recall, with some kind of logo at upper left. It might have been an alligator, perhaps even a rodent ... but definitely animalistic in design.

“So why are you filled with such hate?” he grinned. It was not a smirk. It was not a chuckle. It was a grin.

“Hate’s a tough word,” I analyzed. “I haven’t truly hated anything since high school algebra. Let’s just say I haven’t found an appreciation for these legal devices of torture.”

“Why wear it, then?” he sought.

“Boss says so. It’s a rule,” I replied.

“Why not change the rule?”

“Boss says so,” I answered.

“Why not talk to the boss about it?”

“Boss doesn’t like such talk,” I confirmed. “Yours are words of heresy. We’re talking Bible here.”

“It’s in the scriptures that newspaper people should wear ties?”

“Not the women,” I clarified. “They wear heels. Speaking of which, did you know a man invented high heels?”

“No, I haven’t thought about it.”

“It’s why I figure a woman’s behind neckties,” I suggested. “Call it a form of Montezuma’s revenge.”

“I’m impressed,” he said.

“About what?”

“That you know the word Montezuma,” he explained.

“I know lots of words,” I offered with a smile of my own. “Some aren’t nearly as impressive. Did you know China’s first emperor, Shinh Huang Ti, and his ‘terracotta army,’ were buried in an underground tomb in Xi’an? Each life-size militia member wore a necktie.”

“Do tell!” he exclaimed.

“I do.”

I added, “In 1784, a fellow named Beau Brummel, who was an authority on men’s fashion in Regency England, was said to be the first person to associate a neck cloth with individuality and self-expression. In my opinion? Beau didn’t know squat.”

I offered more.

“According to the Neckwear Association of America — ”

“ — They have their own association?” he interrupted.

“Of course. As I was saying, these people of NAA report that in the 1800s to touch another man’s cravat was taboo and a catalyst for a duel,” I cited.


“It’s another name for tie,” I clarified. “Like I said, I know lots of words. And for the record, in 1840 the word ‘cravat’ was replaced by the word ‘tie’ on a mass scale. I see it as the rose syndrome. By any other name, its choke is just as lethal.”

“You know a lot about ties,” he said.

“I know a lot about pain,” I replied. “In 1947, a Grover Chain Shirt Shop employee in Montreal pleaded guilty to immorality charges for selling ties featuring pictures of naked women.”


“Just exposing the bad in a world of necktie wrongs,” I pointed out. “This is garment history. Can’t handle the truth? There’s more.”

“Like what?”

“In 1998, Bill Clinton’s tie made headlines because it was a gift from a White House intern ... Monica Lewinsky,” I advised. “Everyone knows how that ended.”

“I had no idea.”

“Not everyone does,” I cautioned. “And until the true awful of neckties is faced, America — and the world — are doomed to repeat their mistakes.”

“I can see why you’re a bitter man,” he consoled.

“Not bitter, just a visionary,” I corrected; “I see a better place, one where ties are sewn into quilts or wrapped like ribbons around Christmas gifts; or, used as tiedowns for hauling trash to the landfill. I call it my little piece of heaven.”

His unbelieving eyes glanced from the clock on the wall, to the open office door, down to the aging carpet and back up to my light brown tie. Our conversation was nearing its close, I could tell. Talk of neckties always does this. He seemed fidgety, but somehow self-aware.

“So as long as ties hang around, what’s your forecast for the future?” he finally asked, his tone taking an edge.

“Pain. Suffering. Hopelessness. Global bedlam. Fashion chaos. Improperly tied knots. It’s the full gamut of world disorder.”

Now standing, but with shoulders slumped and head lowered, he led his dragging feet from the office.

Another successful surge in my wave of propaganda against the evil called neckties.

I know lots of words.