November 27, 1998 (Ira Pilgrim)


Around his neck he wore a colored ribbon,

He wore it in the springtime

And in the month of May.

And if you asked him why the hell he wore it,

He wouldn't have the faintest idea.

When I was in high school, many of us viewed the necktie as a symbol of human idiocy, surpassed as foolishness only by the mortar-board cap and gown. We thought that eventually the tie would go the way of the powdered wig, ruffled lace cuffs, top hats, tails, and shoes that curled up in front. How wrong we were.

Efforts were made to create smaller substitutes like bow ties and string ties. They held the stage for a while and then almost vanished. Some clever people thought that if you could get rid of the collar, the tie would go, so they invented the turtle neck. Turtle neck shirts were considered a reasonable substitute for the collar and necktie since, like the tie, it also restricts the circulation to the brain by tourniqueting the neck.

In the days when I worked as a medical laboratory technician, I was required to wear a tie. I wore a bow tie because a regular tie would drag in the urine specimens. It would eventually get stained and would smell like a toilet.

The necktie has now become the international symbol of affluence, civilization and everything good in the world. Delegates from Lower Slobovia wouldn't dream of going to a conference without a tie dangling from their necks. Most sports coaches and managers wear neckties.

What are ties a symbol of? I think that they are a symbol of both authority and servitude. Just as the wedding ring symbolized the ownership of a female by a male, the tie symbolizes the ownership of an individual by a corporation or government. If it were made of iron and bolted or riveted, people would become more aware of what the necktie symbolized. It also symbolizes the superior status of the tie-wearer over the peon who doesn't wear a tie.

I am in favor of clothing, particularly in the temperate zones. Not only are clothes functional in both cold and sunny weather, but they provide some protection against mosquitoes and other insect pests. They also serve to hide body parts which are probably better off hidden, particularly in people my age. What does the tie do? Absolutely nothing; it is a pure symbol, untrammeled by even the slightest vestige of usefulness. If a machinist wore one, his life would be in danger, since it would strangle him if it got caught in a lathe or a drill press. The lumberjack, factory, or mill, or construction worker would also be imperiled for similar reasons. The only people who can safely wear a tie are people who do nothing but write or talk. People who do real work cannot wear a tie.

The tie is the symbol that shouts to one and all: "I am better than you because you have to work and I don't! If you didn't have to work, you too could wear a necktie like I do."

Next column

Return to the Light Stuff Home Page

Return to Ira's Home Page