I have just about finished my first half-year of retirement. You have to understand, the last year I hadn’t had school every day was 1957. To tell the truth, it hasn’t been bad. If I had known I was going to enjoy staying at home this much I might have tried it years ago.
There is one problem that being a former educator has produced, however. What do I do with all those crazy school ties?
Male teachers don’t always wear ties these days, but I think they probably should. If we are going to complain about not being treated professionally then folks should at least be able to tell us apart from the students. For most of my career I wore a tie to school most days, and I had some great ties for school. Now they are just hanging in my closet collecting dust. There aren’t many places I can wear a lot of them, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them either.
Take my Elvis tie, for instance. It is blue and pink and has the young Elvis on it. I wore that tie twice a year for the past umpteen years — on Jan. 8, The King’s birthday and on Aug. 16, the day he died. I’d always play Elvis music on those days between classes and hand out treats to students who got Elvis trivia questions correct. I was in Ephesus on Aug.16 this year and didn’t have occasion to wear my pink and blue tie. I don’t know what my plans are for Jan. 8, but I don’t see that tie fitting into those plans, whatever they are.
I have some cool Peanuts ties, too. One has Charlie Brown banging his head against a kite-eating tree and another has Snoopy playing shortstop amid about a hundred small baseballs. The Snoopy tie is perfect for Opening Day (with “Put me in Coach” blaring down the halls, and you can wear Charlie Brown to school any day of the year without attracting too much attention. Other places, not so much.
Christmas is coming and I have tons of tacky Christmas ties. They have snowmen and Santa Claus and nativity scenes — some are suitable for church, but some of my tacky ties are, well — just a little too tacky.
I have lots of patriotic ties, too. I have one from Pearl Harbor that’s perfect to wear on Dec. 7 and lots of others that have flag motifs. They work on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, but I like to wear them a lot more often than that. I have a really cool tie I bought in D.C. at Union Station that features the Highwater Mark of Pickett’s Advance at Gettysburg. It was great to wear on Robert E. Lee’s birthday and Confederate Memorial Day and when I was teaching about the recent unpleasantness, but there just aren’t many places I can wear that tie these days — or any tie.
I have ties for St. Patrick’s Day and ties for Arbor Day and Earth Day and for the last day before spring break. There’s a palm tree and a hammock on that one. I have ties for Mardi Gras and for football Fridays and for basketball game days and ties for when the band is going to festival and ties for when the drama kids have one act play. After 39 years as a classroom teacher, you just collect these things. Like the tie with the cannons sitting on the White House lawn, which I always wore on the day we studied Dolly Madison saving George Washington’s painting from the invading British during the War of 1812, or the tie with the moon landing, which I wore when we studied the space race.
Are you beginning to get the picture?
I have ties with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Goofy and I even have a tie with Bugs Bunny. Blue ties, red ties, purple ties, lime green ties — every loud and garish color known to man and they all look perfectly in place when worn around the neck of a pedagogue going about his business. Wear one of those ties just about any other place in the world and heads are going to turn — and not in a good way.
Maybe I could donate them to some young teacher who is just starting out? Nah. Those guys are too cool and the ties are too tacky. Maybe I could sell them on E-Bay. I’ve heard you’d be surprised what people will buy on E-Bay.
Maybe I should just save them in case hard times come and I have to go back to work as a teacher. Stranger things have happened, you know.
In the meantime, would somebody please invite me to do something on Jan. 8? I really will miss wearing Elvis around my neck.