Why in the world do men wear ties? Where did this strange fashion accessory come from?
Men gather a long piece of material and tie it in a knot around their neck and go about their business.
I can understand a belt. It serves a good purpose. It holds my pants up. But a tie?
I have a theory. It could have happened this way. There was once an overbearing, barbaric landowner in Medieval Europe named Baron Jean Claude Von Tigh who devised a way to keep his male subjects in line. He would wrap brightly colored pieces of cloth around their necks and if they ever got out of line he would grab them by that cloth and drag them behind his horse until they learned their lesson.
If that didn't work then he would hang them by that cloth from a tree branch until they got in line. The men's wives liked that idea, because they could use that cloth to get their husbands to toe the line too. So it became fashionable to wear those cloths, which were soon called "ties" in honor of Baron Von Tigh.
Maybe not! After all, I wear ties, but never once has my wife grabbed me by the tie and told me to get my act together.
Every time I turn on the news channels on TV, I see a man wearing a tie: Wolf Blitzer on CNN or Shepherd Smith or Bill O'Reilly on Fox News, Brian Williams on NBC or Scott Pelley on CBS. They always have a nice tie on.
As long as I can remember, way back to Eisenhower and Kennedy, whenever a U.S. president stepped to a podium to make a speech he was wearing a tie. Senators and Representatives wear ties, and most male world leaders wear ties.
There are a few world leaders that you never see wearing ties, guys like Moamar Qaddafi from Libya, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from Iran, or Kim Jong-Il of North Korea. They have their own personal style, and seem to be fashion non-conformists. No ties for those guys.
But me, I wear ties. Nowadays, when I step into the pulpit to preach, I have tied a tie around my neck, and I am "stylin'."
I have striped ties, spotted ties, checked ties, solid color ties, paisley ties, and I've even been known to wear a tie or two that looked like someone had spit Skittles-juice all over it. Brightly colored and neon-like.
Every once in a while someone will comment on the tie that I have on. Comments like, "I love that tie!" or "That tie is really bright!" or "Not all men can pull off a pink tie!"
Ties are the one fashion accessory that men wear that get compliments. Very few people tell a man, "I love your shoes!" or "It's wonderful how your shoes and belt and briefcase all match!" or "I love what you've done with your hair!"
Most ties are about 57-60 inches in length and are made from various materials, most commonly silk, wool, cotton or polyester, and as I said, they come in all kinds of designs and colors.
My father-in-law used to own a business machines company. He would spend long hours traveling all over town servicing the machines that they would sell. He wanted all of his male employees to wear ties because he thought it gave them a professional appearance.
But he learned early in his career that a clip-on tie was the safest type for office machine repairmen to wear. He had gotten his tie caught in one of those machines one time and he had to cut his tie off. So, after that, clip-ons it was.
I went shopping the other day, and guess what I bought! You got it. I bought ties, two of them. One striped and one paisley. And I plan on wearing that new striped tie to church on Sunday. It will look good with my suit and my belt and shoes, and even my briefcase.
If the people in the congregation don't like my sermon, they can at least smile at me and say, "Nice tie! That grey looks good with your hair!"
-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.