Wear a tie, make some friends.

History Essay
Written by Nathan Mattise

My sister just became a freshman at Pitt this fall. She called me yesterday and asked me one of those questions you really only ask someone you trust.

“Nate, how do I find kids to hang out with (a.k.a How do I make friends)?”

Coincidently, yesterday was the first Thursday in September, and everyone at SU (by everyone I mean anywhere from 5 to 60 people) was wearing a tie. Why? Because it was tie day of course.

So this begs the obvious question – what is tie day and what does it have to do with my advice toward making friends at school? The answer starts in the awkwardness that was my freshman year of college.

My freshman year of college was like anyone else’s freshman year of college. I look back and realize it was full of unhealthy decisions, incredibly awkward sexual interactions, homesickness, a desperate desire to fit in and of course as much school apparel as possible. I wouldn’t have been able to get an experience that valuable without the group of guys I met on my floor, and the group of guys I met on my floor wouldn’t have become a group without tie day.

It started with a kid on my floor named Hank. He was a walk-on on the football team and on first impression I can’t say he was someone I would’ve hung out with back home. But Hank was an incredibly outgoing guy and he’d invite myself and other less-connected freshmen to come out with him on the weekends. One Friday night we were all in the lounge watching Swingers before a night on the town. It just happened.

“I feeling like a tie tonight,” Hank said. He quickly went back to his room and accented his maroon dress shirt with an equally flattering tie. “Whatdaya think guys?”

We all complimented him with the obligatory “you’re money baby.” The rest was history.

“Next week when we all have REL 142, we’re wearing ties. We’ll be money.”

That night we all wore ties, that next Thursday we all wore ties too. Some of the ties were conservative power ties, some of them were radical Salvo ties. Some of us wore them with dress shirts and khakis, some of us wore them with jeans and a t-shirt. The point is it didn’t matter what our outfits were or if we liked going out or what our likes were period. Roughly 15-20 men and a few women bonded over what would become the floor tradition, ties on every first Thursday of the month. Tie day was born.

I can go on about tie day, but it’s really not important here.* The point is when you’re faced with freshmen year of college, realize a few things. No one knows anyone else. Everyone is worried about making friends. None of the kids you meet will immediately replace the friends you have from home. You need to step outside your comfort zone to find out who you really are and who your friends will really be.

And friends you’ll have for a lifetime can be people you start out having absolutely nothing in common with. It takes as little as a tie and one day to bring people together. My floormates and I were lucky enough to have a Hank to force our hands, but my sister and plenty of other freshmen worried about the next four years of their lives don’t. My only advice to them is don’t be too cool when Hank says we should all wear ties, or don’t be afraid to be Hank yourself. He did increase my collection of Motown music, so at the very least you should spread the funk.

(Links today via – YouTube and Facebook)

Feel free to e-mail Nate to tell him that he should start writing more often. That way he’d be in practice when he decides to write about things no one cares about. And eventhough no one will still care about what he writes, it’ll be (semi) well-written.

*= In case you were wondering about the basic details of tie day, here it is:

  • Tie day is on the first Thursday of every month (later decided to be on the first Thursday of the first full week). Anyone and everyone can participate, ties should be lended for those in need.
  • You can wear a tie with absolutely anything, regardless of whether or not the outfit traditionally goes with a tie.
  • On tie day you eat tie day dinner with other friends and discuss philosophical life issues.
  • On tie day you go out of your way to practice some of the actions associated with the knightly concept of chivalry (i.e. really just things in line with traditional etiquette – holding doors, standing up when a lady comes to the table, getting untensils for others, etc.)
  • In away messages publicizing the event, tie day is presented in bold font with red text color.
  • Tie day is spreading elsewhere. Take a look at these two examples.

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Filed under Essays, History

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