Recently in Fashion Category

Band of Bow Tie Brothers
January 13, 2017 3:36 PM | Posted in:

The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.
--Fight Club, in apparent violation of its own rule
Unlike with Fight Club (and very much like CrossFit fanatics/Vegan dieters/Gluten-free adherents) the first rule of bow tie wearers is: You talk about it.

I've learned the truth of this only lately. MLB gave me several bow ties for Christmas (see below), and every time I wear one, it becomes a topic of conversation with other men who also like to wear them. It's like a bond; you might say it's the tie that binds (if you were really desperate for a metaphor).

My 3 new bow ties
I'm embarrassed by how long it took me to tie these three. I blame the knit shirt.

Among bow tie wearers, the topics inevitably include (in order of typical progression):

  • Did you tie that yourself?
  • How and when did you learn to tie it?
  • What's the hardest part for you about tying one?
  • How long does it take you now to tie it?
  • How did your vocabulary expand while you were learning to tie one?
That last item seems to be particularly relevant, given the struggles to master the arcane art that most of us seem to have experienced in the beginning. But we shall speak no further of that.

The conversation will then evolve (or devolve, depending on whether you're a non-bow-tie-er trapped on the periphery) into a detailed discussion of techniques, tips, favorite ties, and amusing anecdotes (again, the degree of amusement will vary considerably amongst members of the group).

I've also found that each of us has particular eccentricities when it comes to our bow tying. My friend Sam, for example, must stand in front of a mirror while tying his, which isn't particularly unusual. The eccentric part is that he can't actually look in the mirror during the process. I have no idea how that works.

I, on the other hand, cannot don a bow tie without looking in the mirror, even though the mirror image makes my brain hurt. I used this video to master the technique, and it's the equivalent of looking in a mirror (the instructor is African American, nattily dressed, goateed, and quite skilled...but other than that, we could be identical twins), but it too made my brain hurt.

If the conversation does include those who don't wear bow ties, they tend to fall into one of two camps: (1) men who are skeptical of everything related to bow ties, and (b) women who are intrigued by them. (Note to guys who are thinking "chick magnet": This should not imply that they will be smitten by the wearer; women are just impressed by items of clothing that are challenging to put on.)

Regardless of the occasion, the dexterity with which the deed was done, or the conversational drift, any guy with a bow tie will tell you that at the end of the night, this is what makes it all worthwhile:

An untied bow tie
No, I won't talk about my bow tie; I'll let it do the talking, and it says
"yeah, boi, he tied it himself!"

Since time immemorial, it's been the duty of uncles to harass nephews at every turn, particularly  during family reunions. This is a manly way of displaying affection without, you know, being affectionate. Both sides know their roles, generally speaking, and the tradition is passed down through the generations.
I have only one nephew, and that by marriage, but I've taken my harassment responsibilities quite seriously, especially this year due to his absence last year while vacationing at the Army's expense in the beautiful and luxurious surroundings of Afghanistanistania. 
Thus, at the culmination of last weekend's reunion in Fredericksburg, Texas, I was at the hotel's front desk, waiting to check out, and several of our group was saying their goodbyes behind me, The Nephew included. He was dressed in khaki cargo shorts, black t-shirt and black ball cap (these details are important, so pay attention). There was a bit of a delay while the clerk struggled with the computer, and so I turned around and spotted The Nephew looking down at his phone and took the opportunity to rap the bill of his cap several times in a fairly aggressive manner. Even as I did so, I thought, why in the Sam Hill is he wearing that cap; has he lost his mind, wearing a black Texas Longhorn hat?
I then looked down at the black Longhorn t-shirt the khaki cargo-shorted stranger behind me was wearing, just as he looked up with a shocked expression, wondering who was accosting him. He was almost exactly the same height and build as you-know-who, but with much less manly affection in his eyes.
I briefly considered whether I could successfully feign blindness (" that you, my boy?") but figured that without a white cane, it would be hard to pull off. So I stifled, somewhat successfully, my laughter and apologized profusely, pointing out that he could have been a clone* of the guy who previously was standing behind me but who was now off to the side NOT successfully stifling his laughter. The stranger did not share my amusement. Go figure.
I'm sure there's a moral to this story, but for me the takeaway is gratitude that The Nephew isn't a bodybuilding linebacker defense attorney type.

*I thought of an awesome pun involving the word "clone," but by the time I got to my computer, I forgot it. If you can remember it, let me know. K'thx.

Note: I put this post into the "Fashion" category because (1) I didn't have another one that seemed to fit, and (B) you know, the clothes.

The shoe must go on
June 1, 2014 6:02 PM | Posted in: ,

Here's a photo of what arguably is the most compelling conversation piece in the history of pieces of conversation:

My new shoe

No, not the sock - although shark socks definitely haven't yet jumped the you-know-what. It's the shoe, seen here in fashionable out-of-focus fashion (hey, you try taking a surreptitious photo with your phone in Sunday School while pretending to pay attention to the lesson*).

I bought this shoe (and another one remarkably similar that goes on my other foot) last weekend in Denton, at the DSW shoe store. I've worn it - along with its partner because otherwise, that would be weird - three times since then, and on all three occasions they've elicited public comments in great disproportion to the significance that should normally accrue to new footwear. 

I probably have only myself to blame. Apart from athletic models and Manly Footwear, I tend to buy shoes roughly every 30 years, whether I need them or not. Seriously, I haven't bought a pair of dress shoes since around 1980.

I do tend to buy good quality shoes on those rare occasions that I reluctantly acquire them. My last few pair were solid, if decidedly non-flashy** Johnston & Murphy wingtips, which cost around $120, if I recall correctly. Now, in inflation-adjusted dollars, that's about $345 today, and in my opinion, anyone that pays $345 for dress shoes has more dollars than sense, if you know what I mean. [Note: Boots are a totally different matter, and are not to be judged on the same basis.] Rest assured that these shoes did not cost $345.

Given the hubbub over these new shoes, I'm very cautious about revealing that during that jaunt to DSW, I actually bought a second pair. I'm just not sure the universe is ready.

*Not really, Mike. I was paying attention. We were in Ezekiel. Or Habakkuk. It was definitely the OT, well before the invention of wingtips.

**Unless you're a practitioner of the actuarial sciences or a funeral director, then you'll think they totally rock. 

Shoe Blues
August 21, 2013 8:37 PM | Posted in: ,

I put on my cycling shoes yesterday and, boy, was I surprised to look down and see this:

Photo of cycling shoe with delaminating sole

Shocking, right? They just don't make shoes like they used to. Where's the pride of craftsmanship, the burning desire to create goods that stand the test of time? I mean, if a pair of cycling shoes will last only 18 years before the sole starts to delaminate, what will be next? A refrigerator that runs only 20 years?

Fortunately, situations like this are precisely why God invented duct tape:

Photo of cycling shoe repaired with duct tape

I think I can get another decade or two out of this.

Shoe Down
September 30, 2012 3:15 PM | Posted in:

Photo of delaminated hiking boot

Looks like a muddy shoe, doesn't it? Only it's not. It's what a spontaneously delaminating Tecnica hiking boot looks like, and it's not a pretty sight...nor a pleasant experience when it happens while one is walking across a parking lot in a rainstorm.

That's precisely what happened to Debbie yesterday. She wore these boots to the office because of the torrential rains (it was her day off so she wasn't particularly concerned about office dress code) and around noon she noticed that the toe of the sole was starting to let go. Within 30 minutes or so, the entire sole sloughed off. That mud-looking stuff (that's a widely accepted hiking boot term of art, by the way) is - I think - the adhesive foam used to affix the outer sole to the shoe.

I've seen something similar to this before, when rubber products are stored in extremely hot temperatures for long periods, say, during a summer in West Texas. Rubber and related products simply disintegrate over time in such conditions. These boots were stored in a temperature-regulated closet, so that's not an explanation. Neither were they inexpensive shoes. They were, however, more than ten years old, so I assume the breakdown was age-related.

This was nothing more than an interesting annoyance, but what if it had occurred six miles into a wilderness hike? I'm not sure what lesson is, other than don't expect your footwear to last forever, and once it gets to a certain age, inspect it closely before using it for any "critical applications."

Awesome All-Stars
February 11, 2012 5:24 PM | Posted in: ,

So, Converse gives you the power to design your own All-Stars, a sure sign that the Apocalypse is still a ways off. And not only can you customize the regular ol' canvas sneaker, but they also provide a patent leather version as a blank canvas on which to paint your footly masterpiece. Can I resist? That would be a "no."

Custom Converse All-Star sneaker

Sure, it looks like a bowling shoe. What's your point?

By the way, it's always a surprise to people when I show up at a dance wearing All-Stars. They really do make very comfortable dance shoes; the soles have just the right amount of friction, and they don't leave marks on the floor.

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