Friday, December 28, 2007

"Unfit to Be Tied"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

I am fit to be tied. Or, I should say, unfit to be tied. That’s because neckties, the bane of baby boomer men who had to wear them if they wanted to dress for success (this actually had the opposite effect because food stains on ties exposed most of us as real slobs), are back in style among guys who are too young to know better.

According to a recent New York Times story, which ran under the headline "After Years of Being Out, the Necktie Is In," sales of ties to men 18 to 34 were up more than 13 percent from March 2006 to March 2007.

"Necktie sales may have foundered in the decade or more since the words ‘casual Friday’ entered men’s vocabularies," the story said, "but in the last year or two, stylish men in their 20s and early 30s have embraced the old four-in-hand as a style statement."

Maybe it’s because I have a fashion plate in my head, but I was appalled to read this. Granted, a necktie can make a man look respectable (unless, of course, he’s not wearing anything else), and I enjoy getting dressed up once in a while, except if I am going to the funeral of a guy who was strangled by a Windsor knot. But one of the reasons I became a writer, aside from the fact that I am spectacularly unqualified to do anything else, is that I wouldn’t have to wear a tie every day.

The new popularity of neckties is, according to the Times story, "a news flash that will either amuse or dismay men in their 40s and 50s, who, after years of wearing a tie to work, finally won the right to hang up the old choke chain."

I am dismayed because, let’s face it, neckties not only are the stupidest fashion items ever invented, they are the cause of most of the world’s problems. Think about it. What is a necktie? It is a strip of cloth that a man must knot around his neck, effectively cutting off the air supply to his brain. I believe I can speak for most men when I say that we can’t afford this.

Over the past several decades, women have made tremendous strides. They have achieved positions of power and authority. And that’s just in the home. Nonetheless, most of the key decisions in this world are still made by men. And that is why the world is so messed up. All of these horrible decisions are being made by oxygen-deprived men wearing neckties.

My solution: Either ban neckties or let women run the world. We men should be left alone to do what we do best, which is to drink beer and watch football.

Several years ago, I showed up at a fancy restaurant in New York City wearing a sport jacket and an open-collar shirt. The maitre d’ stopped me at the door and said, "You’re not wearing a tie."

"You’re lucky I wore pants," I replied.

He wasn’t amused. Instead, he fetched me a necktie that I had to wear in the restaurant. I got food stains all over it. I was going to ask if he had an extra pair of underwear, but I thought better of it.

Speaking of skivvies, there is good news on the fashion front. And it involves young men. Actually, it involves 8-year-old twin brothers from Columbus, Ohio. According to a recent story from The Associated Press, Jared and Justin Serovich have invented what is being billed as "wedgie-proof underwear."

Using rigged boxers and fabric fasteners to hold together some seams, the boys came up with the "Rip Away 1000."

"When the person tries to grab you – the bully or the person who tries to give you a wedgie – they just rip away," Justin explained.

I once interviewed Diane Peoples, an underwear inspector for Hanes, about wedgie prevention. She told me that snug leg holes are the key to avoiding this other bane of men’s existence. I am sure she would applaud the Serovich brothers for their revolutionary new design.

In fact, I predict that Jared and Justin will grow up to make good decisions that will benefit mankind and ultimately make the world a better place. As long, of course, as they don’t wear neckties.

Copyright 2007 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Christmas Letter"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

Since I am in the holiday spirit (and, having just consumed a mug of hot toddy, a glass of eggnog and a nip of cheer, the holiday spirits are in me), I have decided to follow in that great tradition of boring everyone silly by writing a Christmas letter.

That is why I am pleased as punch (which I also drank) to present the following chronicle of the Zezima family, which includes Jerry, the patriarch; Sue, the matriarch; Katie and Lauren, the childriarchs; and Katie’s husband, Dave, the son-in-lawiarch. Happy reading!

Dear friend(s):

It sure has been an exciting 2007 for the Zezimas! The most memorable event occurred when Jerry competed in the 10th annual USA Memory Championship in New York City. He remembers it well because he couldn’t remember anything during the competition. Not only was Jerry the sole returning player from the inaugural event in 1997, but at the advanced age of 53, he also was the oldest one this year. Maybe that’s why he finished 38th in a field of 41. He was further humiliated when his dismal performance was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal story. A national TV audience also got to see how pathetically Jerry did when he was interviewed on "CBS News Sunday Morning." Looking on the bright side, Jerry knows that pretty soon he will forget all about it.

Lizzie, the family dog, fared much better when she competed in a prestigious national event. She won a regional championship in the Petco Stars Search for America’s Most Talented Pet Contest. Lizzie blew away the field, which included two other dogs, when she beat Jerry in a game of blackjack; demonstrated her mathematical ability by counting treats; showed her skill as a ventriloquist (Jerry was the dummy); imitated a mime; and convinced the judges that she is the world’s kissingest canine by planting smooches all over Jerry’s face. A video of Lizzie’s dazzling performance was even posted on YouTube. Unfortunately, she didn’t win the national title, but at least she proved that she has more talent than Jerry.

And, it might be argued, more brains. Jerry proved that he is (cue the theme from "Jaws") dumb-dumb-dumb-dumb, dumb-dumb-dumb-dumb by going on a shark dive. This thrilling adventure occurred in a 12-foot-deep, 120,000-gallon tank at Atlantis Marine World Aquarium in Riverhead, N.Y., where Jerry had close encounters with six sand tiger sharks, the largest of which measured 7 feet long, weighed 300 pounds and was named Bertha. Fortunately, Jerry was locked in a cage so he wouldn’t end up as dinner for Bertha, who added insult to what could have been injury by finding Jerry extremely unappetizing.

Jerry had another thrilling adventure when he took a ride in a hot-air balloon and set the record for the shortest flight since the Wright brothers barely got off the ground in the first airplane more than a century ago. His ride lasted five minutes. In case you are wondering, the hot air was provided by propane tanks, not Jerry.

On the domestic front, Jerry and Sue helped Lauren move into a new apartment. While lugging several heavy items, Jerry banged his knee, which bled through his jeans, and sliced his finger, which had to be bandaged with one of Lauren’s Hello Kitty Band-Aids. He’s lucky he didn’t end up in the hospital.

That is more than Sue could say. A few weeks earlier, she went to the emergency room with a rash that covered practically her entire body. She had to wait almost three and a half hours for a doctor to tell her that she’d had an allergic reaction to a prescription medication and not, as originally thought, Jerry.

Jerry went to the emergency room recently after he got into a car accident that was caused by a guy who suddenly turned left in front of him at an intersection. The clueless idiot (the guy, not Jerry) went the wrong way down a one-way street because, as he explained later, his GPS told him to. Jerry was unhurt because the airbag deployed against his skull.

The highlight of the year was a trip to Mohegan Sun to celebrate Sue’s birthday and the birthday of Jerry’s mother, Rosina, which both fall on the same day; the 90th birthday of Jerry’s father, Jerry Sr.; Lauren’s birthday; Katie and Dave’s first anniversary; and the fact that Jerry wasn’t killed in the car accident. It was Jerry’s first visit to a casino and he had what appeared to be beginner’s luck by winning $11.50 on a slot machine. Then Sue pointed out that he had spent $25 and actually lost $13.50. Now Jerry doesn’t have any money for Christmas presents.

Well, that’s the news from here. We hope your family has also been blessed with unusual events and is in better shape than we are.

Merry Christmas with love and confusion from the Zezimas.

Copyright 2007 by Jerry Zezima