Their vanity is greater than their misery. — F. Corbera

Until my junior year in college I wore bow ties only to high school proms. These bow ties were always the clip-on variety. Early in my junior year in college a roommate and I were invited to a black-tie dinner. My roommate had grown up in New York City, had gone to boarding schools, and had attended numerous coming-out parties on Long Island, in Connecticut, and in the city. When he saw me clipping on my black bow tie, he grabbed it from my hand, threw it on the floor, and jumped up and down on it until the clips were broken. ‘Never,’ he cried, ‘wear a clip-on bow tie. Never admit you even know anyone who does.’

My roommate was sartorially intimidating. He wore straw boaters in the spring. He wore white-linen suits to class. When he didn’t wear braces to hold up his pants, he pulled a silk tie around his waist and knotted it like a belt, just like Fred Astaire. Being a successful roommate is like being a successful husband or wife: it’s a careful dance. He didn’t want to teach me how to tie a bow tie. He wanted to tie it for me, whenever I was forced into a formal situation. My job was to get him through exams. His only advice for me when we parted was ‘Remember, tying a bow tie is like tying your shoes in the dark while drunk.’

John D. Spooner