Why are men considered dressed up when their collars are cinched shut by a tie? Is there something symbolic about the business world and bearing a noose about one's neck?
The women attached to these gasping men are judged by entirely different open-neck standards. Designers seem to think that the less a woman's collar encroaches upon her neck, the more dressed up she is.
How is this fair?
The late Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard said he believed men were forced to wear ties as partial atonement for that whole childbirth thing.
I suspect it's because we blew that whole open-collar look with ridiculously bad taste when we had the chance.
When I was teen back in the 1970s, men attempted to escape the gallows. We threw away our nooses and popped open our collars. That made us so giddy that we undid two or three more buttons.
The problem - besides the fact that some guys looked like they were smuggling grizzly bears beneath their polyester - is that freedom felt strange. So guys draped heavy chains around their necks.
Then we thought, hey, if one chain is cool, then three, four or five would be the ultimate in hipness, especially if medallions the size of wall clocks swung from them, smacking our chests with every step.
A disco dance was like wearing a personal defibrillator.
I suppose that's why some guys glued wigs onto their chests - not to look like bears but for protection.
It's no wonder we're stuck wearing ties again.
I noticed back-to-school fashions advertised in the newspaper the other day, and I was startled to see that one of the looks for the fashionable female this fall includes wearing a buttoned color and a tie. According to neckties.com, ''Ties have become increasingly popular as accessories for women.''
Ladies, why? You were free! I believe in equal opportunity, but as my mom used to retort when I whined, ''Everybody else is doing it,'' ''If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?''
Besides, I discovered that ties for men are like shoes for women: No matter how many you have, there never seems to be one that matches our outfit just so. At least, that's what my wife tells me when I try to dress up.
I've had the misfortune to work at several jobs that required ties. Well, they can string me up, but they can't make me grow up. Na-na-na-na-na! I have a whole fleet of colorful cravats featuring the likes of Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Marvin Martian, Mickey Mouse and Scooby-Doo.
The big boss from corporate dropped by on an inspection tour, and there I was, resplendent in my Elmo and Oscar the Grouch tie.
After surveying my noose for an uncomfortably long time, the Big Boss remarked, ''Elmo, that's my kid's favorite.''
''I'm partial to Oscar,'' I said.
''Uh-huh,'' he said. ''Don't ever wear that tie to work again.''
He was joking, of course. I hope. Just to be safe, the next time he visited, I hid beneath my desk. I didn't know how he or his kid felt about Winnie the Pooh.
Also, I was wearing sneakers. But that's another fashion mystery I can't solve. At least my laces were tied.
----- Tie one on with Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org