from A Pink Tie

“Sometimes I feel a complete outsider, something like a faker, in the worlds of men, able to participate in neither the old stereotype—the realm of controls and domination, of sports and clubs and locker rooms and cars, of deal-making and business and finance and adventure novels and action movies—nor the new—the pastel-hued realm of sensitivity groups and being-in-touch with-your-feelings-and –letting-your-feminine-side-get-expressed, of relating and personal space and contractual relationships and oat bran and aerobics.”—Peter Ross, January 25, 1990

      Imagine a pink tie dangling in the back of a tie rack filled with the usual spectrum of ties: blacks, blues, greens, browns, perhaps yellow or gold, and, rarer yet, pastels. Imagine this pink tie never worn since to wear it might signal a meaning few men could bear. As a tie in abeyance, a tie in the wings, forever the understudy, always and only the possibility of accessorizing, it hangs in darkness, a figure of irony, ambivalence and ambiguity. It is conservative (it is, after all, a tie), liberal (it is a tie that signals “success” a la Hollywood and Madison and Fifth Avenue) and anarchic (it is pink and unworn, perhaps forever…). It is a bright-pink tie hanging at the far end of the spectrum of color, on the far side of those masculine blacks, blues and browns, a tie ablaze in its own irreverent iconoclasm…

     Imagine this pink tie worn by a literal outsider, a man born outside the continental United States of America (Hawaii) but growing up in the Midwest (Michigan). Can this transplanted man be, in fact, a Midwestern man? Can an ersatz flaneur, an ambulatory anachronism, a stranded time traveler from an older, more European, tradition, be a man anywhere in the United States of America outside the West (Los Angeles), South (Miami) and East (Greenwich Village) coasts? And if not, what, then, is such a Midwestern man?