Ties & Attachments, 2007-2013

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Joe gets up in the morning and he knows exactly what he is going to wear. One side of his closet is lined with white shirts, the same white shirts, (with perhaps one or two blue ones at the end of the row, to be completely accurate), and dark suits on the other side, all from Brooks Brothers. It’s hard to make a distinction between shirts, or to tell one suit from another. But the ties…, now those are candies to the eyes. They are like a rainbow in a cloudy closet, like a day of carnival after a year of restrain. Some have bold solid colors, (royal blue, gold, phosphorescent pear green, or a more feminine hot pink, or peach, or delicate lavender), others have stripes of vibrating complementary hues, while others have intricate and involving patterns of paisleys, little elephants, and other curiosities.

So there is not much thinking during that time in the morning after waking up and before stepping out of the apartment. With those colorful ties all Joe needs to do is pick anyone and he would always look fine; and even if he was to wear the same tie for a week, the effect might be the same on whoever runs into him: Here is someone who knows how to wear a suit; his confidence is saturated like the orange of the tie around his neck; is he in fashion or finances? It doesn’t matter; he could be in an executive meeting in the morning and go to a club right after work without having to change. He is mature, with a few wrinkles along his eyes, and with those bright and elegant ties he looks even more interesting. And now that I think of it, do married men wear ties like these when they go to work? I’m not sure these ties would match with a wedding band around Joe’s finger.

But similar to a ring, a tie is an accessory (like the colorful feathers of a male bird); and even more so, it is a symbol. Ties express formality and adherence to order and tradition, they indicate commitment and dependability, ties represent personal sacrifice for something we consider a greater good. Wearing a tie gives the impression of being civilized, respectful, tamed, self-controlled. So, it is no surprise that a tie might increase your chances for a better position at work, and perhaps even provide you with more advantageous relationships. As a result, ties could also be deceiving.

Joe’s ties scream out loud, “success!” Their ordered patterns and purity of colors, the perfection of the knot, and the carefully measured length project complete confidence, total commitment, and trusted dependability to a higher cause to which he has freely subordinated. The rewards must be great, for those are -noticeably- expensive ties, appropriate more to his aspirations than to his position, and he wears them proudly.

Joe hardly ever removes his tie in public. I’ve seen this occasionally, after a long day and in an informal meeting with one or two friends. And at moments like this, he goes through a radical transformation: his body relaxes, shoulders and chin drop, and feelings of exhaustion are mixed with a new found sense of freedom (perhaps due to the actual loosening of the knot and a heighten awareness of breathing). Physical release is accompanied by mental release; his duties are removed and his commitments are put aside, neatly rolled and into a pocket, like the tie itself.

But a hint of sadness always seems to linger. He knows his neck is unrestrained only for so long, and the time is precious. He will spend the weekend in a white or gray t-shirt and cargo pants, and bare footed for as long as he can. He’ll go out for a run or a walk in the park not far from home. He’ll postpone it as much as he can, but on Sunday afternoon, he’ll start thinking about work and preparing for the Monday morning meeting. There is just one thing he won’t have to worry about.

A. M.
Battery Park, New York, 08/03/2008