As seen with Angell and his best friend from his earlier years, they considered themselves to be family, even though they were not blood related. But with every type of ‘family’ you have, it almost always seems like someone will always find something wrong with family or someone to be angry at, no matter if they have a good reason to be angry or not. This is something that happens all the time in families and can be seen in Dominick Dunne’s article, “A Death in the Family”. In “A Death in the Family”, Dunne talks about how the recent death of his brother, John, from prostate cancer, made him reminisce about how before his diagnosis of Johns cancer they had a very up and down relationship that hadn’t always been the greatest. For the most part, they did have a good relationship but after becoming business partners in the film industry, it took a toll on the two of them that eventually led them to end working together. With many other factors as well, they didn’t speak for many years but with John’s cancer diagnosis changed everything for both. The diagnosis made them realize that all the fights and grudges they had from years earlier didn’t matter anymore because with the news of something big like cancer, makes you realize that there are more important things in life than any grudges you may have had from years before.
Now this front-line principal, offended by the dark T-shirts and gold paraphernalia of isolation and resentment, has come up with a revolutionary idea: neckties for the boys.
Starting tomorrow, at a "dress-for-success assembly," male seniors will be expected to wear light-colored shirts and neckties on Fridays; by the first of next year, the necktie requirement will be applied to all male students, to be followed by a dress code for the young women.
Will the 2,000 boys go for this? "The support from students and parents has been phenomenal," Mr. Mickens tells me. "It's a matter of self-esteem. Neckties are not trivial; this has greater implications, and has struck a chord."
The stunning notion of an "old school tie" -- once a badge of network snobbery -- as an expression of pride at an inner-city school has also touched a nerve.
Civil libertarians are worried about regimentation, or about discouraging political slogans emblazoned across backs (Neckties today, haircuts tomorrow?); others express concern at requiring poor students to buy special clothes. The Office of the Chancellor has been on the principal's back, offering to meet with him lest his methods seem too stern.
Is the necktie code mandatory? "We don't use that word," responds Mr. Mickens, a maverick who understands how to use peer pressure to do what school policy cannot do, "but this is a done deal."
What of kids (including those dressed in $25 T-shirts and glittering sneakers) who say they cannot afford the conservative apparel? "Ties and shirts have been coming in from all over the country" after the Berger story appeared, reports the principal, "and even the National Football League is getting involved." As a result, no child will be embarrassed at being deprived of business attire.
But do boys really like wearing ties? "Sure," says Mr. Mickens, who prefers bow ties, which are to be an acceptable alternative to the long ties. "They steal 'em off my desk every day."
It should be evident that I applaud this call to sartorial standards for teen-agers. How then can I, as a salad barfly at the Army-Navy Club, complain loudly about that bastion of militarism's coercion of its members to wear ties at all times?
Where do I -- a virulent anti-regimentarian, tieless in Gaza -- come off espousing dress codes for free-spirited youths? Is this not a double standard?
No. Life has taught me the difference between a necessary sense of belonging and a stultifying spirit of conformity.
A necktie worn by a young man willingly submitting to the discipline of his school and peer group is a source of personal and communal pride; the same tie worn by a timid adult on a hot day because all the other guys are wearing one is an example of despicable conformism.
To get in the habit of wearing a tie is like learning the art of speaking correctly; after you have mastered them, you can pop your collar and spout the most creative slang.
Listen up, kids of all colors, in all neighborhoods: If you don't experience what ultimately becomes the pain of wearing a tie, you never get to feel the pleasure -- and the freedom -- of not wearing a tie.Continue reading the main story