The building is late 19th century …bruised, worn… almost cross-the-street-to-avoid-it shady… deeply faded paint, failing shingles and clapboards, paper taped inside smokey-glassed display windows, obscuring the interior. The place, inside, smells musty, like dozens of long-stored, attic cardboard boxes. The checkout counter, an imposing U-shaped, elevated glass display case with a cash register mounted at the base of the U, sings 1920’s. The floor – original. And the store is packed….PACKED… to the gills with new and experienced tuxedos, men’s suits, overcoats, and ties on open racks separated by turn-sideways to move narrow aisles, tended by sales people who don’t need tape measures to check your size or shape. They look at you… they know.
We were there to buy a couple of suits for my son. After prowling the aisles and pulling suits on and off the racks, we found two he liked and one for me; we laid them, carefully, atop the display case to the left of the cash register. Dave appeared, looming over us from the elevated display case.
“You like these suits?”
“Yes,” responded son and I.
“You should try bow ties with these,” he said.
“We don’t wear bow ties,” we snickered.
“You ever tried to tie one?” Dave asked.
“No,” we replied, shifting a bit, foot to foot.
“Well, OK, but see if you can do this,” he said, pulling a Kelly-green with pink stripe bow tie from a rack.
He put it around his neck and, without mirror or hesitation, tied a perfect bow in five seconds.
“Nothing to it,” he grinned. He handed the tie to my son. “Here,” he challenged, “you try.”
Well, THAT didn’t go well, and soon Dave, my son, and I were standing in front of full length mirrors at the back of the store, step-by-stepping our way through the art of tying a bow tie. After about twenty minutes practice, both of us could tie our ties – even, tight, and centered.
And, our ties they became. “Beautiful,” beamed Dave, as he rang up the suits and four bow ties, two for each of us.
Home we went to change and dress for a summer afternoon wedding, resplendent in our brightly colored, yes-we-tied-them-ourselves bow ties.
No surprise, really. From the minute he had us first fumble with ties, our money was his. “Hands on” changed everything.
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