Editor's note: We’ve managed to coax ChemBark’s Paul Bracher out of his blogging blackout. Welcome back, Paul! Other erstwhile bloggers looking to come out of retirement for a guest post or two should email me at r_pepling at acs dot org. --Rachel
I received a periodic table necktie for Christmas, which doubles my tally of PTNs to two. Look at it over there—absolutely hideous. Nevertheless, I will keep it, and when the time is right, I will wear it without shame. For now, as a service to the chemical community, I feel compelled to instruct the millions of readers of C&ENtral Science on the correct use of chemical neckwear.
PTNs generally range from ugly to uglier to yuck, but that doesn’t stop chemists from buying them. Ideally, you would be able to find a PTN that was understated to the point of having to inspect it closely to make out the periodic table. Such ties do not exist, as no designer with any class would put the periodic table on a tie.
Blinded by their love of chemistry, many men have trouble grasping the exact fashion statement of wearing a PTN. Contrary to what you (as a chemist) might believe, the major statement is *not* that you love chemistry. When people see your PTN, the first thing that enters their minds will be: “This guy is a weirdo.” These people may eventually discover that you are just trying to be funny (5%), but they will probably end up confirming that you are, in fact, a weirdo (95%). Despite these long odds, most of you will self-assuredly claim not to be weird, because weirdos are never conscious of their weirdness. This is precisely why socially questionable behavior never gets corrected. Next time you put on your periodic tie, please ask yourself, “Am I weird?” If your answer is no, ask someone else—like the life-sized nude statue of R. B. Woodward in your bedroom.
So, when is it acceptable to wear a periodic tie? The best time to break one out is when you purposely want to be irritating. Maybe there’s an event you don’t want to go to but you’re obligated to attend (e.g., a party with your SO’s fellow yentas). In such a situation, you’ll probably relish an opportunity to be annoying. Respond to guests’ questions with answers that will make them feel uncomfortable. If someone says “Nice tie,” reply “Sorry, I’m married, but thanks anyway.” If someone asks if you’re a chemist, exclaim “OH MY GOD! How did you know?!” and stare blankly at them for 10 seconds with your mouth gaping open. Be creative. Be cruel. The possibilities are endless.
In situations where you’re not purposely trying to be a jerk, stick with a regular necktie. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Eat to please thyself, but dress to please others.”