At the approach of Easter when I was a kid, I definitely had mixed feelings. I was excited about the basketfuls of candy that the Easter Bunny would leave my siblings and me. However, I also had the heebie-jeebies at the thought of having to get dressed up for Easter Mass.
In hindsight, Mother had much more of a reason for the heebie-jeebies. She had to wrangle my brothers, Phil and Dave, and me into our little suits that were nattily accessorized by little fedoras.
(We looked like a trio of tiny gangsters about to rob a candy store of all its candy.)
I suppose we didn’t really mind too much having to be dressed up for an hour or so because we knew we had all that chocolate waiting for us when we got back from church.
The impact of having to get dressed up didn’t really hit until a few years later when I had to start selecting my own outfits. That did not go so well because my taste in clothes was — uh — a bit adventurous.
One memorable Sunday, I wore pinstripe pants, a paisley shirt, polka-dot tie and glow-in-the-dark plaid sports coat. The priest had to put on sunglasses during his sermon because the light coming through the stained-glass windows reflected off my outfit, making him dizzy.
However, it was not as dizzy as I was when I finally had to go to work. The dizziness was due to the fact that I had to dress up for work. By dressing up, I mean that I had to wear decent clothes instead of jeans and a T-shirt and I had to wear a tie.
For the first few weeks at the newspaper, I felt as though every day was Halloween and I had dressed up to pretend I was an adult.
It was about this time that I realized I couldn’t go through life wearing clip-on ties. Naturally, I did the right thing. I asked my Dad to tie several ties for me. I would slip them on in the morning and off on the way home.
However, after a year or two of this, I decided that I couldn’t go on like that indefinitely. Every now and then, I would have a slipping-on or slipping-off incident and the knot would come out.
My folks would occasionally go on trips. If I ran out of knotted ties then, I didn’t want to wear an ascot to work until he came back.
There was no Internet then, so I couldn’t look up a video or even directions on how to learn how to tie a tie. I came across a magazine with instructions on how to tie a four-in-hand knot.
I had no idea what that was, but I got a tie and found a mirror and gave the tie tying a try. It was a rough start. The first couple of times, the tie wound up as a headband.
A change of tactics did not produce any better results. It somehow made its way from my neck to being tied neatly around my thigh as a tourniquet. This would have come in handy for medical emergencies, but it would not have helped me get ready for work.
Eventually, though, I did learn how to tie a four-in-hand. Dad was relieved. He didn’t have to get up early to come to my apartment to help me get ready to go to the office.
By the time I switched careers from newspaper reporter to high school English teacher, I had built up a collection of classy neckwear — ties featuring Laurel and Hardy and the Three Stooges.
My brother Dave ties his own bow ties for his work wear, but if I ever had to do that, I think I would have to go back to clip-ons — or have Dave come in every morning from Cincinnati.