On Day 6 of 30 Days of Blogging, I have decided to use my friend Liz's suggestion:
You should write a blog about the ugly ties!
I have a fairly extensive tie collection. I counted this afternoon, in preparation for writing this, and discovered that I have 97 ties. I have no idea how many the average man has, but that seems like kind of a lot. At the same time, my immediate response was, "I need three more to have an even hundred." I tend to post on Facebook and Twitter every so often if I get a weird response to one of my ties, or if I find a particularly hideous one at the store, but I've never really explained why I buy ugly ties on purpose. The answer is simple, really.
It's Marge Simpson's fault.
Marge and Blinky, the three-eyed fish.
Just in case you're not seeing the connection (if you are seeing the connection, you might be my soul mate; please call me?), I'll explain. When I worked at my old school, I owned about 40 ties. I wore three or four a week, because that was the expectation for dress in my old department. When I moved here, I was still in the habit of wearing ties, but after the first year or so of working here, I kind of fell out of the habit. My boss rarely wore ties, and frequently just wore a polo shirt, so I got into the habit of wearing polo shirts, shirts without ties, and sweater/sweater vest combinations without ties. It got to the point that if I did happen to wear a tie, then people asked if I was interviewing for something. A few years ago, we got a new department head, and the tone of our department changed a little. As part of that change, a suggestion was floated to me that I might look a little more professional if I wore a tie more often.
My immediate response was resentment and annoyance.
I have six years of really good performance evaluations, where I often exceed the written expectations for my position. I work hard at my job, and I'm good at it. In what way would wearing a tie and conforming to a possibly outdated paradigm of professional dress change that? I was comfortable in my polo shirts, damn it, and I'd put on some weight, so I'd have to buy new shirts if they were supposed to have buttons on the front and collars to wear ties with. I seethed, and seethed, and seethed for a whole weekend, and then I remembered the valuable lesson of Marge and Blinky.
If you've never seen the episode Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish, that link will let you buy and view it from Amazon for two bucks, but I will also briefly explain. Bart, fishing near the nuclear power plant drains, catches Blinky, a three-eyed fish. The fish attracts media interest, and Mr. Burns starts making the rounds of the talk shows to explain the benefits of mutation, and how wonderful three-eyed fish are for the world. This media campaign morphs into Mr. Burns running for office, and as part of his campaign he decides to have dinner with the family of a random, low level plant employee. He picks the Simpsons, to Homer's delight and Marge's chagrin. Marge finds Mr. Burns repulsive, and Homer pretty much tells her to shut up and cook. Lisa comes to Marge to sympathize, and Marge explains that even though she doesn't want to cook for Mr. Burns she will, but that doesn't mean she's abandoned her principles. It just means that sometimes, when you can't act directly, you have to use the tools at your disposal.
Marge cooks and serves Blinky, the three-eyed fish.
Mr. Burns has no choice but to try to prove his point about the joys of nuclear power by eating, and promptly spits out the first bite of Blinky in front of the gathered cameras of the media. His campaign is dead before the airborne bite hits the table.
As I lay in bed, grumbling and thinking about how much I didn't want to wear a tie to work, I was suddenly reminded of this story, and thought, "You want ties. Oh, I'll show you ties."
And then I went shopping.
Along the way, though, three things happened:
1) I started to like wearing ties again. I wear them four to five days a week now.
2) The ugly ties stopped being ugly. Somehow, they started to have charm, and character. It's like I have a superpower where even the worst tie looks sort of cute when I wear it.
3) I stopped buying just ugly ties. Now, I still pick up the occasional stinker, but I also buy ties because I don't have enough green ones, or I really like that pattern, or that tie will let me wear a shirt and sweater together that normally wouldn't work.
Still, I picked through the ties this morning and kind of assembled a "hall of fame" collection of the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm saving the best for last, but the seven before that are in no particular order.
The Tie of Subversive Thoughts
I bought the Tie of Subversive Thoughts because I thought it was striking, graphical, and artistic. I rarely wear the Tie of Subversive Thoughts, though, because every time I do at least one person makes the complaint that they feel threatened, the tie makes them uneasy, and they feel like I'm non-verbally threatening to shoot people. None of those are the reasons why I bought it or wear it, but apparently putting it on makes people uncomfortable. Oddly enough, every one of the coworkers who has complained is a Republican voter who has posted more than once on social media about their second amendment rights and how important it is to protect them. I guess those rights don't extend to images of guns.
I thought this tie was disgusting. It's orange, grey, and black paisley, for God's sake. I forgot, though, that I live in Tennessee. "What do you mean you think it's disgusting? It's orange." Go Vols. It is now part of my regular "Big Orange Friday" rotation, when we wear orange to work.
I Don't Get It
When I bought this tie, the girl at the register and I both looked at it for a minute, because I'd picked it up with another, more normal tie. She was like, "Oh, you found some ties! This one's really cute, and... oh. Uh...I... I don't get this one." Me, either, thrift store girl. This tie's base color is the color of vomit. On top of the vomit, there's a too bright blue and too bright pink paisley, and then on top of that there are, for some reason, mis-colored mallard ducks. What was anyone thinking when they designed and colored this? I wear it sometimes on Wednesdays, because on Wednesdays we wear pink.
Ford in '76
When I bought Ford in '76 at an estate sale, I thought it was hilarious. Ford lost in 1976. It's a campaign tie commemorating failure. Unfortunately, whenever I wear Ford in '76, people only see the elephants and they always go, "Wait, you're a Republican now?"
Those aren't tiny sequins. They're little tiny rhinestones:
I love this tie. I rarely wear it, but whenever I do people are always like, "Sparkly! That's so awesome!" It is, isn't it?
Seals Dying on the Beach
Another one that makes me wonder what people were thinking. I have a lot of ties with animals on them, cute little dogs and cats and birds and praying mantises and whatever else, but somehow this tie just doesn't work. I think it's because the three seals in the middle of the beach are clearly dead.
Kitty Cat Tie
I love Kitty Cat Tie. It's a little on the campy side, but for some reason it just makes me smile. My current supervisor pointed out something that I never noticed, though: Kitty Cat Tie only contains two fully visible cats. The rest of the tie, for some reason, doesn't show the fronts of any of the incomplete cats. Instead, it is a tie full of cat asses. Ever since he pointed that out, I love Kitty Cat Asses Tie even more.
And now, without further ado, the crown jewel of my tie collection:
Everyone Loves Hypno-Tie
The name is an homage to "Futurama"'s Everyone Loves Hypnotoad, because Hypno-Tie is mindbending. When I put Hypno-Tie down on the counter, the girl working actually recoiled, physically jerking back from it. You're probably looking at the picture thinking, "It's not that bad. I mean, it's not cute, but it's not that bad," because you can't see the true wonder of Hypno-Tie: it's lenticular. Hypno-Tie changes color from what's seen above to the paisley/tentacle pattern on an all red background, depending on what angle you see the tie from. Once I stood in the office next door and twisted my torso back and forth while the secretaries there laughed and laughed, because everyone loves Hypno-Tie.
If you don't, I'll shake back and forth in front of you until you do.