He’s mastered it. Junior, my youngest who started Secondary school, is now an expert tie knotter. In fairness, he had a head start watching his bigger brother do it for the past year. So, in that rush-to-get-ready on his first day sporting the new uniform, it was bigger brother he turned to for help.
I was busy making lunches but part of me was peeved at not being asked for advice. I mean, it was only last year that the bigger lad was the one begrudgingly looking for my help. And it seemed no time at all since I taught the pair of them how to tie shoe laces.
So there I was with a strip of material, albeit a wider one for the neck instead of the feet. In fairness, the lad tried but the technique stumped him. “OK, place tie around the back of your neck, keep the fat side longer than the other. Wrap it around the skinny bit twice and slip it through.” “Huh?” No wonder he was confused. Coming from one who can’t give clear directions and invariably gets people lost, I should have known better than to verbalise instructions. Stick with ‘show and tell.’
After further attempts and nearly choking the boy in my rush to get him out the door on time, I wondered why we had to bother with this when every precious minute in the morning counts. Is wearing a tie really necessary? Can’t students study and attend class just as well without one?
Do grown men actually enjoy donning these slivers of cloth? Bar interviews, funerals and professions where the suited brigade must wear them as part of their work uniform, most adult males, I imagine, would happily eschew this constricted noose. Look around at any wedding or grads. Once photos have been taken, the meal eaten or speeches given, the punters relax and the neckties typically come off.
And yet, boys in ties look smart. Young or old, a guy in a jacket, shirt and co-ordinating neckpiece is ready for any occasion. Unlike women who agonise over sartorial appropriateness – be it casual outfit, formal dress or bum-skimming mini? Men need not stray from conservative garb but in a sea of sober suits the tie is the eye-catcher that marks individuality.
Serious stripes, playful prints or jokey logos tend to identify the personality of the wearer, while the old school tie, in some bastions of education, bore social cachet and could be worn into adulthood. Though, in my case, I was happy to bin my mouldy old tie when schooldays ended, never to be worn again.
After a while, my begrudging teen cottoned on. No more help from Mom. Now he’s the expert showing the newbie. But I’m not redundant yet. The loops occasionally droop. Shirt ends dip down below school jumpers, prompting their frazzled mammy to bark “Tuck in your shirt and straighten that tie!”
Maeve O’Keeffe, Cartoonist Cork, Ireland – the Frazzled Mammy! ©Maeve O’Keeffe 2014
Maeve O’Keeffe is a Cartoonist, Illustrator and Journalist in Cork, Ireland