Along Twin Ponds Road

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By Ray Willis

“Me, a nerd, a geek? No way, Jose!” What a rude awakening last Sunday morning turned out to be! 

I was going through my usual, “What am I going to wear to church?” routine, as I have been ever since I can remember.  I know that I am not alone with this dilemma as I’m sure many gals go through it, as well as guys. 

My problem has been compounded since I’ve lived in the South.  It’s warmer and most of the men I have attended church with tend to dress casually; hardly ever a jacket, seldom a tie and never a short-sleeved shirt and tie, although in my book, that would be fine.

Come to think of it, even when I was teaching, I don’t ever remember guys on my staff wearing a short-sleeved shirt and tie.  I did.  Never thought much about it, in fact.  It was comfortable, cooler.  I thought I looked presentable, perhaps even dapper, on occasion.  Certainly, my wife had never said anything about me looking like I was out of style.

That’s it!  After 40 years, I’m going to settle this thing about whether or not it’s acceptable to wear a short-sleeved shirt with a tie.  I was astounded at the results! 

The very first article I found was from the esteemed New York Times.  Up until the summer of 2006, it was deemed by this publication as a definite “no-no.”   They elaborated and said only guys working for NASA, some scientists, and substitute teachers wore the ensemble. I was in a state of disbelief!  Why hadn’t my colleagues, fellow church-goers, anybody set me straight?  In the same article, however, it went on to say that it would be in style that particular summer.   Makes you wonder what the paper would have to say about all this in our summer of 2009.

Listen to what Men’s Flair, a fashion and style magazine, had to say about it: “No, it’s not at all OK to wear a short-sleeved shirt with a tie. Short-sleeved shirts may look like dress shirts, but they can’t be considered dress shirts.  Short-sleeved shirts are casual shirts no matter how they look, and they should be treated that way.”  (3/20/07)

I did some more research and found that Sears advertises them in Canada.  I didn’t bother to do any more research as to whether the practice was acceptable in Canada because I don’t want to carry this issue too far.

I hope that I am not the only man in these parts, however, who has run into this potential problem with proper attire.  Most of the time, I never give a second thought to the styles being dictated to men from the so-called authorities of style.  If I’m neat and have my shirt and shoes on before going into stores or appear what I think will be presentable in God’s eyes, I’m feeling OK with myself. 

I hate to make waves or draw too much attention to myself with my physical appearance.  I have found it tough, however, to dress for church on most Sundays.  I was used to wearing a sports jacket, shirt and tie most of the days I worked.  I usually dressed for church the same way I dressed for school. Judy and I have always thought that dressing nicely, what many would call “over dressing,” I’m sure, is just another way we can look our nicest for the Lord and to show our respect while in His house.

No wonder, Paul Kelly, a stylish man I taught with, never wore short sleeves with his tie.  He  could have shared with me that I had looked like a geek or a nerd after all the years we taught on the same team. 

And I had always thought that my pocket protector made me appear “cool” while on the job.

God bless you.