In the second row—yes?
—Mary Ellen Ellenbogen, Round the Clock News. I have a question about the president’s ties.
As the president has said more times than I can count, he’s never had ties to any hostile power.
—That’s as may be, but what I’m interested in is his ties—the ones he wears around his neck.
Your question concerns the president’s neckties?
—Not the solid-colored ones—they speak for themselves—just the diagonally striped ones he’s so often seen in. Specifically, I was wondering if you could tell me why the stripes on these ties invariably run in the same direction.
Is that a fact?
—You can easily verify it.
And what direction is that?
—From the left shoulder toward the right hip—or left-right, for short. In photos of the president, you’ll never find these stripes running the other way—that is, from the right shoulder toward the left hip, or right-left, for short.
And this strikes you as peculiar?
—To say the least.
—Look around the room. As you’ll observe, many of my colleagues are wearing striped ties, but the stripes aren’t all oriented in the same direction.
Hmm. Not only would I have to agree with that, Mary Ellen, but it appears that, more often than not, the stripes I’m seeing fall in the right-left category.
“That’s no coincidence. There’s an explanation for that.”
In the front row—yes?
“Hal Klipper, LMNOP Media. Not a lot of people may be aware of this, but, years ago, American ties were all striped left-right, because that was the custom in England, where—in elite schools, military regiments, and the like—the striped necktie evolved as a sort of tribal emblem, like the colors flaunted by today’s motorcycle gangs.”
—You’re interrupting me, Klipper.
“I’ll be done in a second. Unfortunately, what happened as a result of this deference to tradition was that too many Americans visiting London ended up being stomped by outraged retired Horse Guards or old Etonians, for unwittingly laying claim to membership in their exclusive clans. To put an end to these assaults—which of course threatened to kill off their customers—American tiemakers reversed the direction of the stripes.”
—My apologies for growling at you, Klipper. What you say can only reinforce the point you prevented me from making.
—That, given the endless variety of striped ties the president continues to appear in, as well as the ready availability of striped ties with a right-left orientation, you’d expect—if only for reasons of statistical probability—at least a few of his ties would have right-left stripes. That this isn’t so suggests he’s made a deliberate choice never to wear right-left stripes. Is that the case?
I honestly have no idea. I’ll have to get back to you about that.
—Because, you know, if the president has made that deliberate choice, it could be problematic for him.
In what way?
—We’ll think of something.
“At the very least, as evidence of a clear bias for British stripes, it could be construed as a betrayal of his campaign pledge to prioritize America.”
Come on, people, in this particular instance, don’t you think you may be attaching too much significance to what in all likelihood is little more than an innocent personal preference?
—If journalism has taught us anything, it’s to be suspicious of professions of innocence.
Yes, well, I’ll be sure to bring the subject up with the president at the first opportunity. In the meantime—if we can move along here—in the back row: next question?