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The Ties of None Call Me Dad

The in-house counsel swayed back and forth, barely even nodding as I updated him on the antitrust case. His silence began making me nervous. After what seemed like several minutes he leaned forward. “I think that’s the most conservative tie I’ve ever seen you wear.” I apologized for failing to uphold my reputation for wild ties.
“I didn’t think it appropriate to wear the Monopoly game tie while defending you in an antitrust case.”
Maybe it’s genetic. My dad had a penchant for unique ties. After he died in 2002, I inherited several of his ties, my favorite depicting a Roaring ’20s scene. For my fiftieth birthday I received the pièce de résistance: a black tie with the painting “American Gothic” by Grant Wood. It’s the tie my dad wore the last time he danced with my mom the week before he died.
Since then I’ve acquired a veritable art collection — “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, “Starry Night” by Van Gogh, “Il Viale del Giardino” by Monet, and “Bal du moulin de la Galette” by Renoir. Reactions in court, on the elevator, and out in public never cease to amaze me. People from all walks of life know the difference between a Renoir and Monet. Many know “American Gothic” and “The Scream” by name.
For years, I’d been a slave to conservative fashion. My dad’s ties were acceptable for a newspaper editor, but seemed too gaudy for a lawyer. When he was seven, my son Aaron gave me a tie designed for Save the Children by a five-year-old named Kaho. The pattern consisted of red, green, and yellow smiling stars against a blue background. I dutifully thanked Aaron for the gift before placing it at the far end of my tie rack. One Friday, I decided that khaki pants and a blue blazer didn’t need a fancy tie, so I pulled on “Happy Stars.”
A woman on the elevator burst into a smile. “I love your tie!” Later, the bank teller commented on my “nice tie.” Similar comments came throughout the day. That evening I told Aaron that I’d never received so many compliments. “You need to learn to trust me,” he said.
Justin’s tie, on the other hand, symbolizes his juxtaposition with his brother Aaron. It is a staid gold tie, silk fabric, with a Brooks Brothers label. Perhaps it’s a good thing I’ve bequeathed my ties to both guys.
Justin will inherit my JFK tie, composed of campaign buttons and slogans set off against a yellow background. The tie pays homage to my dad’s raising me to be a Democrat. It also saved the day when I attended Maestro Mike Pushkin’s first primary election party. Walking into the Empty Glass wearing a tie attracted unwanted attention. But once people saw the tie up close, they realized I was a friend. Years later, I gave Mike a JKF tie to celebrate the anniversary of his sobriety, and I’m honored to say the tie made its way to the floor of the 2016 Democratic convention.
Sierra gave me a tie with scenes depicting the Deep South. “I wanted to get you something to remind you of New Orleans,” she said, where she lived on Music Street with a group of buskers. Brooke, Cody, and Haley (the other “Nones”) have yet to give me a tie. But I’m sure gift ties are forthcoming.
Among other prized ties is my JDRF tie, emblazoned with the shoe that symbolizes the message for all families affected by type 1 diabetes: “A cure is just steps away.” I also wear a pair of Jerry Garcia ties. I picked them out for the art, having been oblivious to the world of Dead Heads until I met Josh Thomas, who performed with Sierra in “600 Lbs of Sin!” When I attended a music festival last summer, one of the associates advised, “If you wear a tie, make sure it’s one of your Jerry Garcias.”
Needless to say, my collection of ties is dominated by Sparty Nation. I’ve got six MSU ties, ranging from a solid dark green to a mosaic of Spartan athletic history. My superstitions require that I can wear the season’s lucky tie on game day, and I like to sport a different tie the next day to celebrate victory.
Maybe this Father’s Day the “Nones” will help me uphold my reputation. #nonecallmedad #buttheycanstillgivemeties.