Ties

March 19, 2008

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I have a long affection for ties even though I don’t wear them any longer. During high school and college, I hitch hiked a lot. My standard garb was jeans, a sport coat, and a tie loose around my neck. When I first got the job at UCLA in 1983 I wore ties. My students always commented about them in my student evaluations. I wasn’t ready to become “Prof Tie” so after I got tenure I stopped wearing them. I always imagined that I might become one of those natty professors who always wears a bow tie. That hasn’t happened yet. As I looked around the Faculty Center yesterday, I realized that most of my academic colleagues were also not wearing ties. The Chancellor and his crew all do, but then he’s the Chancellor.

Yesterday Jackie and I were interviewing candidates for an important staff hire for our two Departments. The conversation at one point veered towards attire when the candidate confessed that s/he chose to not wear a suit to the interview. I confessed that I had debated wearing a tie but didn’t, choosing to wear a black turtleneck sweater with a thick, grey Armani cardigan sweater. Regarding the tie, Jackie, an African-American woman, wrinkled up her nose and said “WHY would you want to do that?!” — her tone indicating that she was relieved that I was NOT wearing a tie.

So many baby boomers dress as they did when they were college students. Guilty as charged. And not wearing ties was one of the remnants of our rebellion.

Peace, man…

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