I don’t pop anymore.
That is the impression I have of myself. I know what I will look like most work days. I know what I will look like at family celebrations, such as the one we had this Easter Sunday. And I do not pop.
Sixty years down the line, I am wary of suggesting to anyone that I might want to pop. On the other hand, I envy women the satisfaction of adding accessories – something orange or pink or gold, an African scarf or a lacquer bracelet – as they imagine someone else thinking, “Oh, that’s nice.”
At Easter dinner I sat next to a man in his early forties, a member of our family for five years now. He was describing a photo shoot at work for which he had needed to buy a sport coat. When he spoke of the black t-shirt he had worn with it, someone at table asked him to repeat what he had just said.
I got that he would have popped with the black t-shirt. His instincts had been right, I thought. Besides, a photographer would never have allowed the wrong look in images destined for a work publication.
“Only old men wear ties everyday for work,” someone near me said – immediately adding an apology in my direction.
I did not mind. I do indeed wear a tie most days at work – as my father did before me. The shirts I wear are not expensive ones but with a suitable tie, they produce a look to which people nod, sometimes in a way they barely notice.
I nod to the look as well.
At seven o’clock each weekday morning, standing in front of the bathroom mirror, I push the knot of a tie up to my collar. Briefly and privately, I pop. I think.