The Yoke of Servitude


I had an interesting dream last night. I was on a crowded subway car with my wife. We had gotten separated by a half dozen feet. A man next to my wife suddenly grabbed her ass. When she objected he sneered and said: “You should learn how to take a compliment.” I reached over and grabbed his tie — it was yellow with a paisley pattern — and flung it over the hand rail. I yanked it up until he was lifted off his feet (told you it was a dream). I said. “Nice Tie.”

Wasn’t that shocking? I mean, who knew a necktie could actually be useful?

At one time in my career, I was forced to wear a tie most days. I tried to subvert the process in any way I could. I had a couple of leather ties for example and an Amnesty International tie for when I felt particularly trapped. I wore a lot of pink ties, too. When I couldn’t get away with looking odd, I had a couple of hand-painted Italian ties — at nearly $75 each (a lot in the 80s, hell, it’s still a lot). I still have those ones — proving you do get what you pay for. They don’t even have that characteristic crushed look that most ties get around the knot area after a couple of years.

I eventually collected nearly sixty of the damn things, many of which are still hanging in my closet. I wear them when I have to — keeping a full set of dress clothes in my work closet that I change into when jeans and sweatshirt simply won’t do.

Of course, my collection is trivial compared to that of David Hartwell, senior editor at TOR, the largest science fiction publisher around. David once told me he had over 500, if memory serves. I know they form a popular exhibit at some of the larger SF conventions. David, of course, has taken the necktie to new heights — some of his ties are stunningly beautiful; others are eye-watering. Somehow that all look fine when he’s wearing them.

I’m not sure who invented the necktie. I could google it but sometimes speculation is more fun. For example, I think they started as a rope tied around the neck of the King’s closest advisors. When he wanted advice he’s give the rope a little tug to draw them closer. If he didn’t get the advice he wanted he’d tug a little harder.

Another theory. They were invented by a squeamish Italian designer who was tired of seeing the chest hair of his compatriots through the open collars of their shirts. The necktie doesn’t work if the shirt isn’t buttoned to the top,

Me — I don’t care. I can hardly wait to retire so I never have to wear the ‘Yoke of Servitude’ again.

And that’s ten minutes.


2 thoughts on “The Yoke of Servitude

  1. Personally, I like ties. (I wear scarves every chance I get, and yes, the Italian silk holds up forever.) But what I found more interesting here was the correlation between your blog post and that viral video about cat-calling making the rounds. And the talking head idiot who tried to tell women on national TV that they should a) enjoy the compliment, b) stand up for themselves, when told that a woman in Detroit was killed just this week for standing up for herself c) carry a gun or d) move out of NYC if they don’t like it because nobody’s holding a gun to their heads forcing them to live there. Because asking men to reconsider their actions was clearly taking feminism too far. Asking women to move out of NYC because they feel threatened is not taking mansplaining too far…

    It’s really too bad we couldn’t just reply with a demonstration of your dream.

    Liked by 1 person

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