There are four main ways to tie a tie: the four-in-hand knot, the Pratt knot, the half-Windsor knot, and the Windsor Knot.
The knot that you choose usually depends on several important factors, though most men usually choose whatever knot their father showed them how to tie. My father was a Windsor man. The Windsor is the widest of all tie knots, and, arguably the most complicated. It’s the knot that his father taught him, and, I’d like to believe, the knot that King Edward VIII (for whom the tie is named after) himself personally showed my grandpa.
I say this preface so that you may know how insulted I was to see a borderline homeless man point at my necktie, and proceed to tell me that it is the ugliest tie knot he had ever seen in his life.
The said borderline homeless man had been coming to the library for years. Most days he lived in motels and shelters, though some days it seemed obvious that he had been living in his car. He almost always had the same attire: shorts and a wife beater—each in their own way revealing that he had more hair on his body than any Kennedy. He was also always sweating and out of breath whenever he came to the reference desk.
Occasionally the said borderline homeless man came to the library to groom himself in the restroom. Usually, however, he came to use the facilities internet terminals to chat in singles chat rooms. The only thing I had ever admired about the man was his ability to have seven different IM windows on his screen that he was devoting equal attention to—I had seen few teens with this much skill in chatting.
When I first heard him tell me that the knot was the ugliest he had ever seen I simply hoped that it would be friendly banter from a crazy man, and that he would go away without another word. Unfortunately, he did not go away. Instead he said something that brought chills down my spine—"Let me come around the desk and show you how it’s done—don’t worry, I won’t bite."
It’s really hard coming up with a sensible, and professional, rebuttal to a borderline homeless man insisting on giving fashion advice, and offering to wrap his sweaty hands around your neck, so that he may show you the correct way to tie a tie. I choose to simply say the first thing that came to my mind, “No thank you.”
The man became agitated. “Don’t you want to have a knot that will make women stare?”
“My wife likes this knot. That’s enough stares for me.”
“Of course she likes it! I bet she’s the jealous type—doesn’t want women staring you up and down, and looking for any opportunity to tackle you to the ground.”
Three things came to my mind. One, what kind of wife wants women starring at her husband, looking for opportunities to tackle him to the ground? Two, if there really is such a knot that would do this, then why didn’t the man wear a tie himself? And three, how can I make this man go away?
I have worked in libraries long enough to know it’s best to do as much possible not to continue conversations with crazy patrons, so I simply smiled and said nothing at all.
The man continued. “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do—I’m going to go to my car, get one of my ties, and show you how a real man ties his tie.”
Continuing my theory of saying nothing at all, hoping that the man would go away, I simply nodded.
The man left the building, and did not return. It’s possible that he was tackled by an admiring woman who saw him tying the tie, but I think it’s more likely that he simply could not remember how to tie a tie, or, perhaps, did not really have one to tie. In either event, I went to the restroom to make sure my tie was straight.