Lee Pitts: Ties that bind
If you glance through old-time rodeo photos you will see many of the great rodeo cowboys wearing neckties while they competed. Would someone please tell me why a bull rider or bronc peeler would be wearing a choke strap around his neck? Isn’t he already taking enough risk without the likelihood of hanging himself? And what about the very real possibility of a team roper getting his necktie caught in his dally?
I am baffled why anyone would wear a necktie in the first place but I’ve often seen old photographs at brandings and roundups with cowboys wearing neckties while working, which is the epitome of being overdressed. Heck, Charley Russell himself often painted while wearing a necktie, I suppose so he could clean his brushes on his tie. In my opinion neckties and cowboys are one of the worst combinations ever, even worse than chocolate and dill pickles, drinking and driving, sheep and coyotes, guns and teenagers, cattle feeders and bankers, and bureaucrats and your tax dollars.
I’ve been having a lot of eye trouble lately but my wife read a newspaper story to me that said researchers have now concluded that a necktie that is on too tight can cause glaucoma in men. I now attribute my eye problems to the last time I wore a necktie, which I think was back in 1997. I’m pretty sure it is also a scientific fact that neckties cut off circulation to the brain and if you don’t believe me, when’s the last time you saw a Congressman without his necktie on?
Rich guys who collect ties are called grabatologists and some have entire closets for their ties. Not me, I own three neckties, two of which are clip-ons and the other is a real one that was left behind by a house guest. The latter is easily the most valuable tie in my collection as it is made from something called silk, whereas my other two are petroleum distillates. One of my ties is narrow with red polka dots, one has cows on it, and the third one is wide with stripes, so I figure the odds are I’d be in fashion at least 33% of the time. If I ever wore a tie, that is.
I know this is hard to believe for folks who’ve seen my sartorial elegance on display but I NEVER go clothes shopping, however, I’m told that some of the fancier ties can cost as much as fifteen bucks! And then you have to match it with whatever you’re wearing. Personally, I’ve never liked the necktie and tee shirt look, or a tie with coveralls. Besides, I can tie a Bowline knot but not a Windsor and I have no idea what kind of ties are in fashion currently. Did you know that in England the stripes on a man’s tie go from top left to bottom right, while a Yank’s necktie go from top right to bottom left? Which may explain why when I look in a mirror wearing my striped tie I have a craving for crumpets, speak with a snobbish accent and crave tasteless food.
I am known far and wide in the auction business for not wearing a necktie when some highfalutin folks think the occasion calls for one. My mom always preached to me that I should wear a necktie on all important occasions but I rebelled. She would have killed me for not even wearing one to her funeral, but she wasn’t in any position to berate me. Some uppity sale managers think ties should be worn at special events like horse sales, a cattle auction in a hotel ballroom or a sale high on the hill in Denver but I respond, “Listen, if I didn’t wear a necktie to my own mother’s funeral I sure as heck aren’t going to wear one to sell your inbred miniature horses!”
My high school ag shop teacher told us to never wear loose fitting clothing in the work place and ties definitely fit that category. So I always use that as an excuse why I’m tieless. Once when I showed up at an auction market without a tie to work a cow sale. The sale manager said, “You are a writer, what’s the worst than can happen, that you get your necktie stuck in your printer and Hewlett Packard chokes you to death?”
Hey, it could happen.