Small Stories for a Big World: December

Since the late ‘70s, I have had jobs that call for wearing a tie to work. Over the years, I have acquired a lot of ties.

Some I bought. I never paid serious money for a tie. If I bought one new, you can rest assured that it was on the discount rack. Some ties I bought used at such places as the Goodwill store in Walkertown. For reasons unknown to me, it often has really appealing ties.

Some were gifts. One of my favorites is the hula-dancer tie that Sparkle Girl hand-painted for a birthday. Other favorites include the tie with an aboriginal-sand-painting print that my mother bought for me when she went to Australia to see my sister Dawn, and the black-and-white Dalmatian tie that my friend Susan gave me.  

As it happens, my collection could include ties that once belonged to my grandfather, Daddy Ralph. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. After he died, we were cleaning out his house, and I found a dresser filled with brand-new clothing that his grandchildren and others had given him as gifts over the years. One drawer was filled with shirts still folded and held together with pins. One drawer was filled with ties.

At the time, I did not yet wear ties to work. Nobody else wanted them either, so we donated all the ties. I still think about those ties sometimes and wonder whether I missed out on any fabulous ones. Not that I need any more ties. I just counted and I own 71 ties.

In our house, places to hang things are at a premium, and I keep the ties on racks that hang on the back of the closet door in Doobins’ room. He doesn’t seem to mind. If he decides he needs the back of the door for something of his, I will just have to figure out something else.

Until recently, it has been my practice to wait until the morning of a workday to deal with the question of what shirt and tie to wear. I pick out a shirt and tie, iron the shirt, take a shower, get dressed and I’m on my way.

Inevitably, I fell into ruts. For certain shirts, I thought only of certain ties. Also inevitably, some ties fell by the wayside. There was a time when the tie that pictures the Cat in the Hat tipping his hat while standing in a front of shelves of books was one of my favorites. I couldn’t tell you the last time I wore that.

In recent days, Garnet and Sparkle Girl have changed all that. One day, I was wondering aloud about what shirt and tie I should wear, when Garnet and Sparkle Girl asked whether I would like for them to pick out my shirt and tie.


They came back with a shirt and a tie that would never have crossed my mind to put together. “Huh,” I thought, “I didn’t know you were allowed to combine those colors.” They looked good together, though.

It turned out that they enjoyed picking out my shirt and tie and, since then, they have taken it upon themselves to do it for every work day. They do it the night before, so, in the morning, all I have to do is plug in the iron and get to work.

Ties that I haven’t thought about in ages have appeared. Once, they paired a tie I was not particularly fond of with a shirt that made it snap. Completely changed my opinion about it.

A part of my life that was once mundane is now fresh again.

I like it.

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