1. Start by placing the tie around your neck so that the wide end hangs down about a foot lower than the narrow end.
2. Quickly but thoroughly die on the inside. Actually feel your soul draining from your body and dripping out of your pores like sweat.
3. Next, take the wide end and pull it across the narrow end.
4. All of the other men in the office wear ties. In fact, it’s specifically mandated in the Employee Handbook under “Dress Code,” subsection “Males.” But the other men’s ties are always nicer than yours; made of finer quality material, comprised of richer hues, featuring repeated arrays of distinguished polo players or exotic animals. These are elegant ties with knots so intricate you wouldn’t even know how to begin replicating them. Your tie looks like the Men’s Department at Target took a shit on your chest.
5. Breathe deeply. Try to ignore the way your entire chest quavers as you exhale.
6. Attempt to recreate the style of tie worn by Assistant Manager Mike Warthen, that gauche asshole. Mike’s tie looks like the kind of tie that would relish humiliating your tie during a nerve-racking Quarterly Progress meeting; the kind of tie that would leave your tie angrily pawing at its genitals in the company bathroom, hyperventilating and making strange, inarticulate grunting noises. Not that that’s happened or anything.
7. What the hell kind of knot is that, anyway? A Windsor or something? Christ, it’s like you have to be a goddamn Eagle Scout to look competent at work.
8. Intermittently stop because it’s hard to tie your tie when you’re suffering uncontrollable hand tremors.
9. Give up on Warthen’s tie after winding up with what appears to be a deformed Bolo tie. Undo and return to starting position, then repeat steps #1 – 3.
10. When you were a kid, they always asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up; you eagerly responded, “A doctor, just like my dad!” which really troubled everyone, since your father was an alcoholic wig salesman. You never really knew what you wanted to do with your life, what you wanted to “be.” Even when you enrolled in college, you chose Business Administration, something broad enough to prepare you for anything and nothing at the same time. Then graduation, your current job… all things proceeding in an orderly fashion.
11. The vending machine at work has Bugles. There was a time in the mid-90s when Bugles seemed poised to be the next Doritos, or at least the next Fritos. What the hell happened?
12. Loop the wide end back underneath the narrow end.
13. Attempt to think more positively; remember a brief but enchanting conversation you had two days ago with Jenn in HR. Envision her smile as she gracefully reached over her desk to pass you an updated copy of the Short Term Disability Information Form — the way her eyes slowly and invitingly blinked as she said, “They slashed our coverage…better watch out for any slippery floors.” What tie were you wearing that day? Never mind — it’s at the cleaners. You had General Tso’s chicken for lunch that day.
14. Bring the wide end back over the narrow end.
15. Contemplate a recently viewed pornographic video set in an office workroom, replacing the main characters with Jenn and yourself. Callously pursue the incompatibility of the porno with the grim reality you inhabit. For instance, your office workroom has a large, fake potted plant and an ant problem. Also, your penis is much, much smaller than the penis of the man in the video.
16. Come to terms with the fact that, as a 27-year-old, you have most certainly completed puberty. The chances of your penis getting any bigger at this point are marginal at best.
17. Wipe away single tear slowing dripping down cheek.
18. Now take the tie and pull it past the backside of the knot and up towards your face.
19. Remember your job interview. Remember the carrot dangling tantalizingly from the end of the stick.
20. Return to previously devised plan to brutally murder Mike Warthen with a pair of hedge clippers. Better yet, think about plunging an axe into his back while shrieking maniacally like Jack Nicholson did to Scatman Crothers in The Shining.
21. You’ve thought about The Shining a lot lately, and may have even written “redrum” with your finger in the pooled-up condensation on the passenger-side window of Mike’s 2007 Audi. However, you later second-guessed yourself, figuring a douche like Mike probably hasn’t seen The Shining and thinks “redrum” is a song by UB40 or something. Maybe you should’ve just written “murder,” although that seems kind of tiresome, right?
22. Now pull the tie through the knot you have created from looping the wide end over the narrow end.
23. Realize you’ve been standing in front of the mirror for over 45 minutes. Consider the fact that you are beginning to experience a psychotic break with reality.
24. Open the medicine cabinet and find the bottle marked Paxil. Open and ingest liberally. Briefly experience some unlabeled, high-dosage side-effects, like “sweaty eyes” and “inverted erection.” Enjoy this temporary reprieve from your standard existence.
25. Admit to yourself that you were actually fired three weeks ago and have been going about your usual morning routine and then spending your days hiding out in the office building’s parking garage, like some kind of municipal Phantom of the Opera.
26. Look into the mirror and grow hot with shame. Quietly but violently berate yourself.
27. Finally, continue pulling the wide part of the tie down through the knot, while simultaneously tightening the knot by pushing it up towards your neck.
28. Goddamn, you tied that thing tight. And your eyes are freaking sweaty; perhaps you’ve taken one Paxil too many.
29. Is this even your bathroom? Why is there a circus mirror in here? Is this just another incredibly vivid night terror? And is that a TV Guide lying on the tank of the toilet? People still get TV Guide?
30. Consider other ways to live besides a membership in the white collar workforce. Working with your hands or becoming a tradesman sounds extremely satisfying; unfortunately, you failed high school tech class and have an acute fear of electric saws. You could sell all your possessions and find some kind of farm-based commune, but you’d probably run into a Charlie Manson type who’d seduce you with his magnetic personality and then convince you to break into some rich family’s home and commit decadent murder. You could start playing guitar again and join a band, but you still have school loans to pay off and pretty much every song you ever wrote sounded like a Van Halen rip-off, anyway. You could just flee your apartment in the night without saying goodbye to your friends and family and move into the parking garage full time, but… well, I guess that’s your best option, actually. There aren’t a lot of sustainable life paths in a dying capitalist society. The existing ones are merely dehumanizing Faustian compromises; dignity and/or morality are sacrificed for the sake of various MacGuffins that serve only to continue the meandering plot that is your existence.
31. I wonder if TV Guide still has the Cheers & Jeers section.
32. Ah, fuck it. Even though it’s tempting to Google “How to Turn a Necktie into a Noose,” it’s important to stay optimistic in the face of adversity. Sure things look pretty bleak, but living on the fringes of society has its benefits – you drank malt liquor under a bridge this morning with the guy who created “Ask Jeeves.” Besides, if you’re not gonna break into your old office building at night to shuffle through the hallways while grinning sheepishly and pretending to be Jim Halpert, who will?