Age Appropriate by Oliver Perry

One year ago I started wearing a tie to work, Monday through Friday. Tying this traditional item around my neck each morning has become a daily activity; two steps after brushing my teeth, two steps before clipping my tie bar[1].

When tying the tie, you cannot multitask. It’s a rare moment when you are either looking in the mirror or watching what both hands are doing. And that moment when it’s over, and I pull the slack out, I pause and become conscious of the person I am.

I have gone through a progression in my relationship with this piece of cloth. As a kid, whenever I wore a tie I felt like an adult, a little man[2]. This feeling lasted months into my career. I would finish my ritual, look at myself and think that I was the fucking shit.

This opinion slowly metamorphosed into a calm assurance of who I was and what I was working toward. This reaction to the double Windsor each morning did not last long.

I have done this ritual in many states of mind. I have woken up late and tied it in my building’s elevator during a rush, as the old ladies waiting in that metal box with me looked on with quizzical amusement. I have had to make a knot almost twelve times because I was too hung over to get the length right, either down past my zipper or short of my belly button. And most rare of all, I have tied it slowly; after waking up well rested, taking my time while conscious of the morning.

I thought it was during an instance similar to the latter that I came to my current state of mind regarding the tie. I was mid-process of dealing with an old tie that belonged to my grandfather. I paused, and my hands went to my side. I looked at myself and the loose loops around my neck—and I realized I looked stupid; that I looked like a kid. I realized why we wear ties and dress in suits. We’re all children wearing our father’s clothes. We’re trying to inspire within the people with whom we do business, those same feelings of unquestionable confidence and competence that we experienced as children, when our dads came home from work and set his briefcase down—the days of afterschool snacks, coloring books, and scraped knees.

Then I realized I was really hung over, still drunk really, and threw up in the sink in front of me. After picking the blue, 15mg aderol out of the colorful sink mixture I continued my preparation for the day. Don’t use a vacation day unless on vacation!

A few weeks later, on a Wednesday, my boss[3] and I went to lunch. He is an old sailor and hides two full sleeves of tats under his suit. He asked me a question out of the blue. “Why do economists always wear bowties on TV? When they give interviews or testify in front of congress.”

My degree is in economics, and sometimes I think people believe that makes me a sort of authority, like asking a med student “Does this mole look funny?” But I had never thought about it, I mean bowties specifically. I think the reason I gave was heavily shaped by my current sour feelings toward the necktie. But as a point of pride I like to present economists in a flattering light[4] “It’s to say to the world: hey, fuck you.”


“The very fact that anyone wears a tie is ridiculous; ties were invented as a decoration in the Croatian Army generations ago. They are a fad from old Europe that never went away. When someone wears a bowtie they say “yeah, I look ridiculous, and I know that. You also look ridiculous, but you have no idea. I reject the worldly concept of trying to present myself to be above reproach. So… fuck you.”

We looked at each other and decided that this was a damned good reason to wear a bowtie. Since then every Wednesday in our office has become ‘Bowtie Wednesday’. And when clients or competitors come in for meetings, or potential hires interview with us—none of them realize we are really just saying fuck you with the stupid decoration we choose to wear around our necks.

[1] Madmen bitches

[2] James Bond

[3] My favorite quote from this man took place on my second week of work, in a packed conference room. He wasn’t pissed or anything. Someone just asked how to go about accomplishing something. His reply: “We need to tear the turtle out of its shell and fuck it to death.” The individuals in the room passed agreeing nods and straight faces around the room, as if to contemplate the wisdom just brought down from the mountain.

[4] If the economist don’t win, we all jump in!

This is Oliver Perry’s first run at writin’ for RASCAL. See you again soon, loverboy. 


One thought on “Age Appropriate by Oliver Perry

  1. Pingback: A Reoccurring Handicap by Oliver Perry « Rascal Magazine

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