All tied up

Castlegar News bi-weekly columnist Gord Turner reflects on a topic near and dear to his neck

Friends of mine get tied up in knots at the mention of ties.  Many of them wore ties throughout their working lives and now they refuse to wear ties—even to formal occasions.  Apparently, they were choked all those years.

As for me, I’ve never had that problem. I like wearing ties. That began when I graduated from teachers’ college some time ago and was required to wear a tie. I found it to be no imposition, and it helped with the respect level I was accorded in the classroom and community.

At Selkirk College over the past 30 years I’ve only worn a tie on special occasions—that is until about eight years ago.  At that point, I was assigned to teach technical writing to students in the college’s aviation program.

Aviation students, as a feature of their program, have a dress code. They have to wear a uniform and a tie to class— even to English class. So I decided I had to dress up and also wear a tie during my teaching time with them. My plan was to wear a new tie each week for the 16 weeks of instruction.

In that initial class I startled them when I wore the first tie I found in my closet — a garish tie to say the least. The next week I looked over the rest of my eight so-so ties, and decided I’d better buy more. Even if I wore all eight of this sorry collection, I knew I would only be able to cover half the classes of the term.

So, I began to buy ties in the wider styles and only in silk—no polyester cheap-looking ties for my new regime. During this period, one of my friends gave me a selection of ties for my birthday, but the gift came with a twist.

I was given the gift during dinner in a restaurant with lots of nearby folks looking on. The gift was arranged so that I had to pull the first tie out of a hole in the box, and then each subsequent tie was stitched to the one preceding it.

I ended up with one long strand of six ties stretching partway across the restaurant. The incident was a bit embarrassing, but we laughed hard and long about how these ties joined my collection.

Since then I’ve continued to collect ties the way others collect coins or CDs. I wear them to dances, gatherings, formal occasions, and city council meetings. Because I now own 300 ties, I rarely have to wear a tie twice —unless I want to.

After I had enough ties to cover my 16 cviation classes, I decided to collect ties connected to various holidays – a Canada Day tie, a Thanksgiving Day tie, a Remembrance Day tie, a New Year’s Day tie, and a St. Patrick’s Day tie.  The idea I had was to wear the holiday-theme tie on the respective holiday or close to it.

Currently, I have three ghostly Halloween ties, five joyous Christmas ties, and three hearty Valentine ties. For some reason I’m missing a Labour Day tie. I also have two International Rotary ties, two wedding ties, and two golfer’s ties.

Along the way, I’ve collected ties associated with countries we’ve visited such as Thailand, Australia, France, Sweden, Brazil and England. I’ve gathered seasonal ties, artists’ ties, special designer ties, literary ties, musical ties, gambling ties, and wine-tasting ties. I have a few strange ties like a “tie” tie, which is a tie covered in pictures of other ties.

Collecting ties has not been a pain in the neck—and I’m not finished yet.

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