Jay Jones - You just look different with a bow tie

I crossed a defining moment in my life the other day that may not strike many people as all that important. After a spring cleaning of my closet and recent purchases I now own more bow ties than straight ties.

I haven't worn bow ties on a regular basis in years and just recently started wearing them again when I go to church, just so I can remember how tie them. For me, bow ties have been a fashion lighting rod that attracted amusement, derision or friendly appreciation from passersby.

I asked my wife Amy what she thought about me wearing bow ties, and she said, "Why do you want to do that and put up with all of that ridicule?"

However, I've read that bow ties are making a comeback of sorts. "If You're Young and Not Faint-hearted," yelled the headline from the New York Times Style section last week. Bow ties are back, so the story said, and the paper ran photos of young, skinny male models wearing them.

Believe it or not, I began wearing bow ties for the same reason one would start a band or join the football team - I wanted to meet girls. At Georgia Southern, I joined my buddy Dave Harris to start up the Southeast Georgia Paul Simon for President committee back in 1988.

Simon was a U.S. senator from Illinois, and his trademark was bow ties. Dave and I thought we could throw some parties and meet some girls. Contributions were accepted, but the price of admission to any of Dave's parties was the wearing of a bow tie.

I learned how to tie a bow tie and found some at a second-hand store. We threw some parties, had a great time and Paul Simon got about 28 votes in the six-county area that was our responsibility. So much for my future in politics.

The bow ties stuck with me since then. I used to get all kinds of remarks from people. They ranged anywhere from "Where's the big red nose that came with the tie," to "Oh, cool, a bow tie. My grandfather used to wear them."

Locally, there's not many bow tie wearers walking around. But one fairly well-known one is Rockdale County Superior Court Judge David Irwin. The judge said his father used to wear them and he liked the fact that Harry Truman wore them, too. The judge also had some practical reasons.

"I remember pediatricians use to wear them to keep children from pulling on their ties, and that came in good use when I was a public defender," he said. "I didn't want to be caught in the situation of a client reaching across the table and grabbing my tie."

Plus, said Irwin, you just look different with a bow tie.

"People used to fuss at me for wearing them. Now, they fuss at me when I don't wear one," he said.

Jay Jones is a staff reporter for the Rockdale Citizen. E-mail Jay at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.