Random musings, observations, squeaks, whimpers and perhaps the ocassional rant. About what, I'm not sure.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

An Open Letter to Lee Allison...

8 March, 2005

Mr. Lee Allison, Big Cheese
Lee Allison Company
1820 West Webster Avenue, #401
Chicago, IL 60614-2927

Dear Mr. Allison,

I’m writing to you personally today due to the serious – nay, grave – nature of issues I had with one of your famous Lee Allison Company Four-in-Hand ties. Your name is on the product, your name is on the company – hell, its all over the place, so I figured you must be The Big Cheese, and that you’d at least want to know the personal and irreparable harm your product has caused me.

I had one of your ties once. A snappy little “retro TVs all over it” model. Like a boiled egg it looked innocent enough at a glance, but proved oh-so-deadly to my self-esteem – my life – over time.

Oh, sure, my tie – your tie - was exquisitely crafted, hand sewn, a true conversation piece on my otherwise unobtrusive person. Made of the finest silk. An object to be admired; worshipped, some might say. No issues with workmanship or any of that; it was a work of art. Hell, I liked the tie enough that I sent you a note about it – we even talked by phone. I believe I called the Lee Allison Company “the Nordstrom of Ties” for your customer experience. Simply remarkable.

No, the tie wasn’t poorly made, and your service wasn’t bad; quite the contrary. What pissed me off is that this tie had an attitude, and not the “I’m a very chic fashion trinket and the man who wears me is successful; pay heed to him” vibe. It was more like “I’m beautiful; screw the guy who’s wearing me” kind of riff. The tie didn't like me, period. At all. Not one bit. As David Spade would say in a Capital One commercial, “Non-ka”.

Now, I know what you're thinking... something like “Security to Mr. Allison’s office - right away please”. But hear me out. This is a story that must be told.

I bought the tie as an extravagant gift for myself, having closed a big business deal. I was a struggling entrepreneur at the time – ‘96 maybe? –like you were once. I’ve continued the tradition of small self-rewards on good fortune – I’d have even bought more ties if my experience with this one hadn’t been so disastrous. A Ghurka wallet here, a fountain pen there, but no more ties. Too painful.

That Four-in-Hand tie was the coolest thing I owned for the longest time. Not only did I look good in it, but it was always a springboard for my “yeah – its great. I bought it when I closed the Motorola deal – have I ever told you that story? story. Little did I know how the pleasure of the story, told over and over and over, would turn to the pain I’ve endured for so many years now.

I admit I should have spoken up sooner; I knew something wrong with this tie right away and should have sent it back. It was a feeling – keen instinct; gut feel – a sixth sense, in retrospect. When I opened the box, the tie was gorgeous, not doubt, but it was also all “who the hell are you; how did I get here?”. I was taken aback. But, I figured “I suppose when you’re this well made, you can have an attitude”, and also “maybe that’s how ties are in Chicago”. I wish that was it; it wasn’t.

First, the tie didn't like living in the closet with the rest of my clothes. Granted, the wardrobe was a bit shabby back then, but it was what it was. "But I'm better than they are” I remember the tie saying. “I'm hand crafted, damn it!” A pretty elitist tone; not pretty, and what I expect nor tolerate from any of my clothing. “But Lee Allison made it” I remember muttering to myself. “Maybe it’s just me. I’ll give it some time”.

Next, it was crap like "you're going to wear me with THAT? Are you DRUNK or STUPID?!". Now I'll admit I'm not the most fashion-savvy guy around, and I’ll have a cocktail or two on occasion, but hey - sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. But what a mouth on this tie. What an attitude.

Then, the tie started to get a little mouthy when I’d wear it. I don’t know about you, but for me, ties in public are like kids in public – they shouldn’t speak unless they’re spoken to, and then not much. Not this tie, though… oh no. I'm talking with the most beautiful woman at a function one night, she glances down to admire the tie and the next thing you know, the TIE is talking to her. And its not being nice. “Forget about him – he’s a loser. Lets go back to my place and get busy”. ‘My place’ my ASS; I was the bread winner; I was the deal maker, I worked my fingers to the bone to put a roof over our heads. I was the Man. Talk about getting pissed off; I liked the tie, but hitting on my chicks and putting his highly polished tie-Nazi jackboots to my ego was where I drew the line, mister.

I put the tie in the closet and left it there in exile. Not for long – maybe 3 months a clip. I took it out now and again to see whether it had been rehabilitated – hey, it worked for Martha Stewart – but no joy. I started to hate that beautiful tie, and it hated me.

Now like many relationships, I didn't really know how wrong things were, but the signs were all there. Sure, we were seen together at functions, but always seeming a little on edge – a little cold to each other. Kind of like Diana and Charles near the end. And that was OK with me – I just figured “this is as good as it gets. Until one day it was gone. Vanished. Right into thin-fricking air. Not a trace. The only thing I can figure is that the tie got tired of our constant bickering and the next thing you know, up and leaves.

Which, and I’m sorry for the strong language, is bullshit. Helluva payback for shelling out what I think was probably something like $65 at the time. Plus, if I can’t have that tie, then no one can!
I know. An outsider reading this might remark – “are you sure you didn’t just lose the tie, like on the trip to Canada a couple of years ago”, but you and I know the real story. I notice you don't have any spunky little retro TV ties in your catalog anymore. A testament, I'm guessing, to how these disobedient, ungrateful and wholly unforgiving ties treated THEIR owners.


Sorry - I'm trying to get a grip, but through the tears I have to tell you I must have really loved that little tie – its golden hue, what I think were its little blue TV highlights – the memories are starting to fade, to tell you the truth. Sure, it was a back-talking little bastard but hey - so am I. But I still think its wrong for you to hand-make and sell a product that's fundamentally as flawed as this one was.

Please refund my money, start some sort of relief fund for customers who’ve had my kind experience with your products, or go on Dr. Phil – something; anything. But whatever you do, please, please – stop making ties folks will fall in love with. God, I don’t know if others are strong enough to stand what I’ve gone through.

Dejectedly, but ever-so-thankfully yours,


p.s. I’ve heard the Lee Allison Company Loft is pretty nice. If my tie happened to slither back to Chicago and its hiding out there, please send it back to me for the thrashing it sorely deserves.


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