For many hours on Sundays until recently, I wore the ugliest ties I could find. I walked down Millbury Street on Sunday afternoon, heading for the poetry reading I ran to Nick’s Bar and Restaurant with the most heinous examples of ties. They are wide. They are made from petroleum. They are louder than a car horn. I strut down the street with pride. The peacock walking the promenade.
What is amazing is that I get compliments. People tell me they like my ties. They are happy to see such an unpleasant explosion of art. A nice guy told me that my “even game is still on point”. This was never my intention, but I sincerely thank them all the same.
When I direct my poetry reading, I always wear a tie. I want to go back to the old ways of dressing. Also, I have a lot of ugly ties and I figured I should use them. Reading poetry seemed to be the easiest victim of my clothing crimes.
Here’s the thing, some guys are hard at giving gifts. The old standby is the tie. I’m not sure why. I have been in education for most of my adult life and the parents of my students, if they felt the need to offer me something, offered me links. I have a lot of pro-education links.
I have my son’s ties. The first birthday present he single-handedly picked out and bought for me. He was so proud. He wanted to make sure I wore it. Even now, when I put it on for a poetry reading, I always make sure he sees that I’m wearing it. He nods his head in approval.
Then there was the year I sold insurance at a downtown location. They insisted that all male employees wear ties. Sure. OKAY. They said ties, they never said nice ties. When I got the job, I went searching all the discount stores for the ugliest ties there was. I think I have achieved the goal.
So now I have about thirty ties of dubious taste. Some seem to have been created by designers who never understood color. They are screaming. They are childish. They rest around my neck with relaxed poise.
Now, even back when I wore these beauties during my insurance sales days, people would compliment me on them and I wondered what was wrong with them? Or what was wrong with me for not understanding the inherent beauty of the opposing tie design? Am I the one with no taste?
I do nothing to embellish the tie. I don’t put it on a nice dry cleaned shirt. I wear sneakers and jeans. I’m that smug middle-aged guy who thinks a tie with blue jeans means I’m hip. The youngest can identify with me.
And what are these links? We have a tie showing pencils. There is a child’s drawing of ice skating. The one with hundreds of polar bears. They may be polar bears. It could be mutant lemurs. We also sport geometric shapes and colors. Baby, we have colors. I have a tie that clashes with itself.
The question we have to ask ourselves, when did anyone think these ties looked good? Have they looked at this polyester abomination and said, “Yeah, it’s a sleek beast.”
Was there a time when we blessed the loud and the ridiculous? Have we believed in the adage that the wider and uglier the tie, the better the man? Is this the equation we have?
It’s sad to see my poetry reading end for various reasons. The first is that I will miss reading. The other is that I will have no good excuse to wear this menagerie of ties. I’m gonna have to start another art event, just to have a reason to look ridiculous.
When the penultimate poetry reading came around, when Nick closed and became Steel & Wire, I put on a new tie that I bought for two bucks at a thrift store. We think it might be showing pinecones, but we’re not sure. I put it on and put a hat on my head. I asked my son, “Is this good? Does it work?”
My son looked at him critically. “Yeah. It works. Everything works with a bad tie.
David Macpherson is a poet and writer living in the Worcester area. His ebooks include “Poetry in Bars: A Slurred Manifesto”, “Gin and Tonics Across Worcester”, and “The Library of Disposable Art: Volume One”.