A Guide to All Things Charlie

By Katie Donahoe (Contributor) [?]

Published: January 9, 2009 and Updated: March 17, 2009
Reprinted From Windward Bridge

Charlie Holmes is an interesting individual filled with wisdom and stories. When I decided to write an article about this fascinating man, I thought to myself, “Katie, people want to know about this guy. What does he do all the time? There is more to him then we could ever see in our fifty-five minute English classes.” And that is when it hit me: I would write a guide to Charlie, a map of Charlie’s enthralling life.

When I think of Charlie, while I imagine words with more syllables than there are months in a year and books of all genres, my mind leaps first, of course, to ties. Although normally, one would have to have a lengthy conversation with someone to recognize what type of mood he or she happened to be in that day, with Charlie, all one has to do is glance at his neckwear and one immediately sees his disposition without the need for a tedious introduction. So, when I sat down with one of Windward's most beloved teachers, I had to first ask about his ties.

"I have over 120 of them. I wouldn't want to buy any more of them; I'd have to buy new tie racks," he said with a smile. "Usually I get around five new neckties a year and they just add up."

We talked about some of his more notable ties including his "teacher tie," his "sushi tie," and of course his infamous "Pterodactyl tie."

When the focus turned to this well-known red dinosaur tie, I had to ask about how it had come to bring such a thrilling day to Windward. "I bought both the t-rex tie and the pterodactyl tie because I was at the Natural History Museum… and I thought 'I like these ties! I like ties that have animals on them!' So I decided to buy them for myself and one day I was in a bad mood and I happened to be wearing the pterodactyl tie and so I told my students to watch out because it was ‘Pterodactyl Tuesday’ and it just stuck."

When I brought up "Ugly Tie Friday", Charlie smiled and said, "I had to have something to do with my ugly ties! Particularly when students give me the ugly ties, thinking they were attractive perhaps, so I think I devised it as a way of excusing myself for wearing an ugly tie… I don't want people to think my taste is that bad, although, there are students who seek out the ugliest ties they can possibly find."

After assuring him that I would be one of those students, we turned to teaching. "Insofar as teaching and here I'll be something of a fabulist, I think, teaching is a very odd profession because you're basically scattering seeds on the ground not knowing which ones will take root or when. You never know what the product is going to be and sometimes you don’t find out until years later. Sometimes you never find out, but you just do your best, hoping the seeds will fall onto fertile ground and hoping that something will take root, something will grow. And so the best surprises are when you find out years later that something took root.” He continued, “It is the second most important job in the world after being a mother.”

The conversation then took a turn to Charlie’s favorite and least favorite movies, to which he said, “I’ve got to be very careful because I once said to students that Babe was one of my favorite movies, and now, I have fifteen plastic pigs in my office.”

I promised never to purchase him synthetic swine of any kind and then told him that he seemed to be a “Renaissance man”. He assured me otherwise by saying, “I had thought at one point in college that I would become a Renaissance man and I took up fencing for about four weeks. It was fine when we were stabbing dummies, but as soon as I was facing another human being, I couldn’t do it and I decided then I was not going to be a Renaissance man.”

While he might not be a Renaissance man, Charlie is a cherished educator to every student who has had the pleasure of being taught by him. Who would bring words like “preantepenultimate” and “Lake Chagoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubuna-gungamaugg” to everyday life without Charlie? With no Mr. Holmes, who would correct our dangling prepositions and the spelling in our paragraphs? No one would. At least no one like Charlie.

So, to sum up Charlie, he is in dire need of tie racks, he has invented a day in order to display the low points in the neckwear industry, he compares his job to that of a gardener, he has been forced into collecting pigs by his pupils, and he doesn’t enjoy the recreational stabbing of people. There you are, Charlie’s guide to all things Charlie, a true non-Renaissance man.

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  • Brice Green, on 01/09/2009, said:

    Charlie's name has also become a verb meaning to correct one's grammar. For example: You just got Charlied since you improbably used an eliptical advebial clause of comparison.

  • Ethan Resnick (Co-Founder, Technology Director, Designer, Columnist), on 04/26/2009, said:

    @Brice, don't you mean improperly #irony

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