Friday, May 27, 2011

Men's Neckties: The Trial

Father's Day is less than a month away.
Of course, a traditional gesture for that occasion is to gift Dad with...a tie.

Here at The Van Winkle Project we are sharing the following in the hopes that it might be received in time to prove helpful to our readers. And maybe to some dads...

Ties - Guilty or Innocent?
I was cleaning out my closet the other day, getting rid of shirts and pants that I seldom wear.

I noticed a row of ties, That's when a little fantasy popped into my head...

Suddenly, in Kafka-like fashion, I was transported to the inside of a courtroom where a trial was being held. A male lawyer was standing before the jury box and making his opening statement. Except this man didn't look like the lawyers one sees, on TV, for instance, on Law and Order. He wore a suit, but it was paired with a white T-shirt, and no tie.

 The lawyer looked kind of like this...

Meet my dream lawyer...
sans tie!
 And the lawyer was saying:

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, let me begin by asserting that the accused--these neckties--have caused years of damage to the plaintiffs in this case, Mr. Van Winkle and other men around the globe. They have grasped men's necks in a choke hold and brought undue distress to their persons.

What have the neckties offered in return? Very little. As the evidence will show, these neckties are guilty of being dangerous, superfluous affectations. They should be found guilty and condemned to be banished from closets forever!

The lawyer presented evidence in the form of two photos he passed to the jury. Since I was the representative plaintiff in this fantasy class-action lawsuit, the photos documented how my parents had their three sons dress up every time we traveled on a train or an airplane. In the parents' minds there was some kind of strict etiquette. Perhaps they had inherited their sensibilities from olden times. They believed that if people are going to see you, you need to put on your Sunday best.

Placed in Evidence:

Photo No. 1 - Family is traveling by ferry. Suits, ties for the boys!

Placed in Evidence:

Photo No. 2 - Family in the nation's capital. Suits, ties for the boys!
The laywer continued:

How do you think having to dress in this manner made my client feel? I will tell you. He felt uncomfortable and dorky! You can see it in these pictures. Is he smiling? I don't think so!

But I want you to realize that it is NOT Mr. Van Winkle's parents who are on trial today. It is the very idea of a man's tie. What is the point, I ask you? A dangling little piece of cloth that is supposed to provide a slash of color, you say? It is a traditional fashion accessory like a woman's scarf?

All right, but at what cost? A HIGH cost, I say. Have you priced ties? Let me present you some more evidence and ask: Are any of the following worth $35 to $85? A price that is as much or more as the cost of a men's pair of khakis?

TIE NO. 1 - $35

TIE NO. 2 (from the Jerry Garcia Collection) - $55

TIE NO. 3 - $85

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I leave the final decision in your intelligent hands, mixed metaphor and all. For the sake of comfort and economics, the silly fashion of men's ties must finally be banished for all male persons. I am sure you will do the just thing.

The Verdict
Well, the fantasy trial ended at that point. Without a verdict, I began thinking of how our 13-year old son loves suits and he has no problem wearing a tie either. It his personal counter-reaction to an American culture where a vast number of people dress in a way that in the past would have been called "sloppy." They delight in making themselves appear to be wrinkled, untucked, baggy peasantry fit only for strolling in Wal-Mart or drinking beer on the patio. Or so would say any fashion snob worth his/her salt...

But I'm not one to react against "casual." Having grown up with a sport jacket and tie as required attire every Sunday when we went to church, I've had my fill of formality. A suit, a tie? They don't make me feel well dressed so much as constrained.

It's all context-sensistive, I suppose. I have to say those NBA coaches in their suits on the sidelines look dynamite. So do most politicians. And I wouldn't want to be represented by a lawyer who dressed in glad rags like a tattooed Johnny  Depp.

But as I stand at the threshold of my closet and I'm left with the echoes of the mock trial, I bring down the gavel and I decide. I am keeping exactly one tie. It will be for weddings and funerals. May there be many of the former and few of the latter--until they hold the biggest funeral of all. For the tie. - V.W.

BONUS FEATURE: The real purpose of a tie revealed!

State and Main (2000) is a film written and directed by David Mamet. The movie tells what happens when a Hollywood film crew comes to a small Vermont town to shoot a movie.

The story reveals how the Norman Rockwellish townspeople aren't really much different than the Hollywood folks. Everyone is interested in making a buck and bending the rules to suit themselves.

Even the old, venerable town doctor who walks down the street carrying a alligator valise as if he still makes house calls is a bit of lush and he has a tart tongue. At one point he waxes eloquent about why a bow tie is inferior to the other kind.

               DOC WILSON
               It's the truth that you should never
               trust anybody, wears a bowtie.  Cravat's
               sposed to point down to accentuate the
               genitals, why'd you wanna trust somebody,
               s'tie points out to accentuate his


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