My father, Daniel David Krakauer, frequently wore bow ties - not exclusively, but frequently. You can see him below, with my mother Rose Krakauer, in an old picture. The year it was taken is unknown - you can click to see it twice the size, and return with your browser's "Back" button:
Dan knotted the bow ties around his neck quickly and easily. He once told me the following story: When he was a college student at Cornell University, a group of students attended an event for which the dress code required tuxedos. Most of the students rented the tuxedos, which always come with bow ties. Some of these were real bow ties which had to be knotted around the neck, while others were pre-made ties which simply clipped on to the shirt collar.
One of Dan's fellow students chided him for wearing a clip-on tie, implying that a real man knew how to tie his own. Dan replied that he had indeed tied his own tie, and that the tie he was wearing was not a clip on. The other student looked at it carefully, and saw an absolutely perfect knot, completely symmetrical. He accused Dan of lying, convinced that the tie Dan was wearing was pre-tied. Dan bet the student some amount of money that he had in fact tied the knot himself, which he verified after the bet was made by untying it on the spot.
In later years when I myself rented tuxedos, they always came with clip-ons. Perhaps there are some readers of this blog entry who have never seen a real bow tie un-knotted, like the one to the left, so there it is.
A number of years ago, the son of one of our neighbors was attending a high school event dressed in a tuxedo. Unlike every tux I've ever rented, his came with a standard bow tie that needed to be knotted around his neck, as opposed to a clip-on. He was unable to tie it, and came to us for help.
I had long since forgotten how to tie a bow tie, but this event was recent enough that we had available to us the Internet. Margie and I did a search on ["how to tie a bow tie"], including the quotation marks in order to require the pages found to contain the entire expression in the given order. I just repeated the search using the Google search engine, and got 3,700,000 hits. Although we had the Internet available at the time, YouTube did not yet exist. Thus we had plenty of explanations with lots of pictures, but no videos showing someone actually doing the job.
And I have to confess that with all that help, we were still unable to successfully tie the knot. We ended up admitting abject defeat, and sending our neighbor off to try to find someone else who could actually do the job.
There is nothing especially exotic about the knot in a bow tie. It's just an ordinary bow, the same as you would make in a shoelace. The problem is that the entire bow is compressed into two very short sections of the tie, one at each end, which include wide pieces of material which are difficult to manipulate - that is, difficult to pass through small loops.
After my mother died, I inherited all of my father's ties, because nobody else particularly wanted them. My father died in 1984, and my mother in 2002, so she had kept the box of ties for 18 years. They were all stacked in a small flat box, actually a cut-down carton which had once contained boxes of Girl Scout "Thin Mint" cookies. You can see it just below, labeled in my mother's neat printing (click on the image to enlarge it):
Here are a few of them stretched out for better display (click on the image to see them bigger). As you can see, quite a few of his ties were rather colorful:
Like my mother, I can't bear to get rid of them.
I could wear them. If only I can figure out how they're tied.
I would have guessed bowtie to be a single word, not two. But when I looked it up in my real (that is to say, paper) dictionaries, they all give it as two words. As I noted above, a Google search on ["how to tie a bow tie"] gives 3,700,000 hits, whereas a Google search on ["how to tie a bowtie"] gives only 124,000. So two words it is. [return to text]