Week 1: Tie a Tie

Every good game show host has a signature move.  Unless you are blessed to have a name that provides all the cachet you need in the game show world (I’m looking at you, Wink Martindale), you need that move or style that sets you apart from the competition.  Alex Trebek has his smug pronunciation of French, Chuck Woolery has “two and two,” and Pat Sajak has that “screw you, I get paid to count letters in words” smirk.

Steve Harvey, who has stolen my dream job of hosting Family Feud, has a signature move that ranks up there with the most cringeworthy television, comparable to anything The Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm has served up.  Seriously, I’d rather watch Richard Dawson kiss fifteen-year-old girls on the lips just a second longer than is morally and legally appropriate over seeing Steve Harvey’s signature move again.

When a male contestant’s style is not up to snuff, Steve will invade the man’s personal space and spend an excruciating twenty seconds fixing the contestant’s tie, while asking him about his profession, how many kids he has, and according to one hundred people high on bath salts, where are all the monsters coming from?  The contestant will stand there with an awkward smile plastered on his face, answering questions without moving his head or neck, looking like a paralyzed seal.

The times when another man has adjusted my tie have been some of the most emasculating experiences of my life, despite the tie primper’s good intentions.  I’ve never been good about asking for help, but this is a whole different level of insecurity.  Standing there frozen while another man helps me with something I should know how to do immediately transports me to childhood and that inability to take decent care of myself.  A properly knotted tie is such a symbol of manhood that he might as well be next to me at the urinal, helping me with my aim.

My inability to tie an adequate tie hit its nadir on my wedding day.  My nerves were already getting the better of me before I started, and they were completely shot after the ninth failed attempt.  Either the tie was too long or too short, or the knot looked like crap, or the short part was longer than the long part – it was an unmitigated disaster.  My pride had prevented me from asking for help at first, but at this point I didn’t have a choice.  Even the photographer knew I was in dire straits.  She showed me her digital camera and presented an impromptu series of photographs entitled “The Tie Becomes The Noose.”  I’ve helpfully diagrammed this one:

sweating the tie

Aggravation led to desperation, which led to perspiration.  I finally sent out an SOS call and my own personal Steve Harvey came to my rescue.  He fitted me with a gorgeous knot and perfect length.  I was saved.  Now that I’m determined not to be put in that position again, I sought out that very same man to be my first MANtor.

Want to read more? You’ve reached the end of the preview, but the full text of this entry and many more can be found in my book, BE A MAN: How I Spent One Year Drinking, Shaving, Farming, and Fathering My Way Toward Masculinity.

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