In anticipation of an upcoming wedding we have been graciously invited to attend, I bought a new suit – my first in over a decade, giving me a grand total of two suits. (And a lifetime aggregate of four.)
A word or two about that experience. (As this post is not entitled, “A Suit Goes To The Winner.”)
When considering the alterations during the crucial “try on” phase of the operation, it was determined that the suit’s pants needed to be “let out.” Two weeks later, when I tried the suit on, it was discovered that, rather than letting the pants out, the store’s tailoring department had instead taken the pants in.
An understandable mistake. There were two ways they could have gone, and they had unfortunately selected the wrong one. Although – a minor quibble perhaps – the notational instruction pinned to the pants during the crucial “try on” phase of the operation said, “Let out.” That, imaginably, should have been a clue to the pants-altering direction they should reasonably have taken. Note to the store’s tailoring department:
Anyway, I am not here to waste your time on the triviality of pants.
I am here to waste your time on the triviality of ties.
I don’t know why men – and women, desiring to emulate the accouterments of power – continue wearing an item of clothing that, when slid tightly up to the throat, reminds the tie-wearer of hanging. My best guess is that ties – as well as socks – are the wearer’s only available modes of sartorial distinctiveness. Otherwise, it’s “gray suits and shirt.” And black shoes, to further enliven the festivities.
Anyway, for whatever reason we continue to wear ties, at some point in our maturational process, one is required to learn the appropriate strategy for tying one. Otherwise, you risk the debacle of sweaters, draped inexplicably over your shoulders.
“I have a tie, but I am wrapping it around my wrist.” (Note: I am aware I am in the minority about this, but what can I tell you? I am no strongly inimical to the “look.”)
Jumping ahead – or perhaps, more accurately, sideways – my “Knot of Preference” – I guess because someone long ago taught me to tie it and admiring the outcome I decided to stick with it – is the formally elegant “Windsor Knot”, named for its originator, the late, impeccably dressed English Duke of Windsor.
We all have a purpose in life… one would prayerfully like to believe: Finding the cure for a serious illness. Devising some life-altering invention. Conceiving a viable solution for world peace.
Others are placed on this earth to come up with an innovative way of knotting men’s ties.
The Duke of Windsor, of course, was known for another noteworthy achievement as well: He abandoned the throne to marry the woman he loved… whom British tradition insisted could never be Queen, because she was divorced, or because she was American. (I am unclear on which offense was the more egregiously disqualifying one.)
(Historical Note: I am also uncertain as to the causational chronology of these events – whether it was, “If I can give up the throne I can design a new knot”, or “If I can design a new knot I can give up the throne.” Though it is arguable one of those towering achievements effectively enabled the other. Does it really matter which, in the overall scheme of things? I suppose not. Both are memorable feats of enduring significance. Some of us never do any.)
Here’s the thing, personalizing the issue, as bloggers, amusingly or annoyingly, depending on your response to it, are habitually wont to do.
Setting the Scene…
The celebration in question looms anxiously on the horizon, my time rapidly running out. And there I stand, facing my bathroom mirror, fully dressed, except perhaps for my shoes, the remaining task on my preparational agenda – to successfully put on my tie.
And, hard as I try, I am unable to do so.
At least, to my fastidious satisfaction.
On my initial attempt, the front, visible portion of the tie ends up considerably shorter than the back portion, offering the woeful appearance of a smartly-suited Oliver Hardy. Whose memorable catchphrase, “Why don’t you do something to help me?” is functionally inoperative, as I am adamantly determined to do this myself.
With each continued failing effort, time is inexorably ticking away, a pressing awareness, playing no small part in my serial ineptitude.
I try again and again, calibrating precisely how short to position the left side, hoping, that when sliding the “finished product” up to my collar, my tie will fall before me – and, more importantly, the world – at an admirably appropriate, tie-hanging length.
And yet, time after time, my “Goal of Perfection” frustratingly eludes me.
Somewhere, I imagine the impeccably dressed Duke of Windsor, decorously chuckling behind the sleeve of his French-cuffed, dazzling white shirt.
“My dear boy. You are utterly hopeless!”
Finally, as with every script and blog post I have ever written, I am done in by the arriving deadline. Time to face reality, and settle acceptingly for “close.” It's going to be that. Knowing, with a discouraging certitude, that tie-knotting Nirvana is elusively just barely beyond my grasp.
And possibly always will be.