Ties For Generation X-mas

Who has not experienced it: the last days before Dec. 25, and still, nothing - not even Old Spice or argyle socks - for that Dad, brother or boyfriend? Whether as penny-pinching progeny or a late-shopping intimate, who among us has not had to rummage the dump tables at the department store to select another damn tie? And not for it's individual style or content, but because it was the least ugly of the tangled lot. Some gift! It doesn't matter if we had it wrapped in a delicate origami shell that gently unfolded into dancing swans and trumpeting heralds. The recipient of the tie seems to know just what feeble token of esteem waits to greet him from that long, ominously-thin box. My own very first time was just last year. Lounging with my girlfriend in our festively decorated digs, I was starting to pick through the presents from both sets of our parents. Imagine my serenity: George Winston on CD, eggnog, a well-used mistletoe dangling lovingly overhead. We had already gotten over the XXXL polyester jogging suit HER parents had given me. And we'd lived through the horrendous imposter-fragrance gift set MY parents had selected for her. After that, I figured enough damage had been done for one Yuletide. Then, I happened upon "it" -- a certain wafer-like box from my own mother. I shook the nicely wrapped package. I set it down, approached it from all sides. I smelled it, and hell -- I even tried to Vulcan mind-meld with it. Then I opened it, and... it was a tie. A flowery, pale-blue rayon job with one of those matching little hanky-thingies. It was so... so... my FATHER! The horror. I swallowed hard, slid it away from me, got all choked up. My God -- I remember thinking this: "I've become the one who GETS the lame tie." A year has since passed. Now, I wear a tie to work every day, and I wear it proudly. In the impersonal world of business, with it's rules of etiquette and dress, it is all I have left to express my individuality. As the only twenty-something in an office of Baby Boomers, I take my fair share of hazing over my choice of cunning cravat. They jeer my Tommy Hilfingers, Ralph Laurens, and Gap knock-offs. They denounce my Italian twills, irreverent Betty Boops, and trippy abstracts. I am the last bastion of free-thought among those unoriginal oldsters in their soup-stained solids and subdued stripes. To them, I openly advocate tie revolution and must be silenced. But I will be heard. Up with 100 percent silk jacquards! Down with clip-ons! Giving (and GETTING) a tie for Christmas need not be shameful or unsatisfying. You can dress up your man (or woman) with elegance, individuality and more than a little panache this year with neckwear that accents his or her unique personality. The Grateful Dead's former leader Jerry Garcia lives on with a funky little line of his own design. For the purists, Nautica and Polo are always worth the money. And just for fun, I suggest spicing up your lover's holiday with a Tabasco necktie, an item no Gen X'r should be without. Of course, it is still the thought that counts. But let me tell you a little secret. You know that certain tie I got last year? It is still in the box it came in. Untouched. Unloved. I want to get rid of it, but feel some weird loyalty to it. I am sure it will continue to haunt me for years to come. Sorry, mom. Truth be known, I just can't bring myself to slip it around my neck, to do that first simple maneuver of putting it on. It's just too dissimilar to my own personality. All those satiny posies in damnable full bloom! Argh! Give me little garish geometric shapes on a field of purple, or give me death! Long live the Necktie Revolution! So do yourself and the ones you claim to love a favor this year. Leave those gutless, puerile, and oppressive examples of discount store schlock for someone else. Take a walk on the wild side of fashion. Make it something to compliment the getter's own unique style and sensibilities. Give something dangerous, flirtatious or down-right revolutionary this Christmas! The tie, as a gift, need not be an exercise in mediocrity, but an expression of the true feelings you have for own beloved young professional. And I'm sure the dads of North America will appreciate it, too.

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