Getting ready

In a few days we’re going to celebrate the 5th Annual South Bay Cycling Awards. This means many things to many people, but to me it only means one thing: Angst over tying my bow tie.


Every year I get on YouBoob and watch the 3:42 video showing me how to tie my tie. First problem is that it’s all backwards. They need to stand with their backs to the camera so I can exactly copy them. Second problem is that I know the video by heart. It’s been viewed 4,260,062 times, and 4,260,061are by me. Third problem is that tying a proper bow tie is like truing a wheel. You get good at it by doing it a bunch, preferably on other people’s wheels, not yours. But I don’t know how to suggest that other people let me tie their bow ties; it’s almost like asking a dude if you could help him with his zipper.

Many unhelpful people are always ready to offer unhelpful suggestions, the first and most obvious one being “Why don’t you use a clip-on bow tie?” followed by “Why don’t you use a pre-tied bow tie?” followed by “Why don’t you wear a t-shirt?” followed by “You look like an idiot.”

The reason I don’t use a clip-on tie is because when I was a kid I always used clip-on ties. I had six of them and I wore them all the time. When I dressed up for cowboys and Indians I would always get my holster and my gun and my cowboy hat and my cowboy sneakers and my clip-on tie. In other words, I associate clip-on neckwear with childhood, which is why I stopped wearing clip-ons shortly after I turned forty.

The next most obvious move is to use a pre-tied bow tie. Do I really need to go there? Pre-tied ties are lame. They mean you are lazy and incompetent beyond all reason. If you are too lazy to learn to tie a bow tie, then why are you even wearing pants? Pre-tied bow ties also look horrible. They are tied perfectly and don’t match your slovenly approach to everything else, and everyone knows at a glance that you are too lazy and inept to tie your own tie. Why did you spend all that money on the green tux and the orange shirt and the purple cummerbund and the white braces just to garf it all up with a pre-tied bow tie? Please.

Also, pre-tied bow ties take away a lot of the formality of your special event, for example, your funeral. Special events are formal and therefore stressful. As they’re wheeling in the coffin you are likely to wonder “Is my formaldehyde okay?” or “Did they cover up the stab wounds on my face?” or “Gosh I hope they glued my eyes shut.” It’s that anxiety that forces you to take the time to tie your funeral bow tie right. Formal events are special in large part because they tell you know that if you screw up you’ll be embarrassed and feel bad and etc. So there you are getting all formally dressed up, carefully putting on your fancy clothes, and when the most stressful part comes you cave and stick on a fake bow tie. If you had prepared all year for your big bike race and gotten all nervous and then at the last minute rolled up with a secretly motorized bike, wouldn’t be anticlimactic? Oh. Never mind that example.

The next option is alt-Clothing, i.e. t-shirt and jeans. Well, you clearly don’t understand the Wanky Awards. It is a very prestigious and formal affair. From the very first iteration, when it was held in the luxury facilities of Naja’s dive bar (100 taps!), shoehorned between the pool table and the record machine, I insisted on wearing my tux and bow tie, not because any of the drunken slobs celebrating the inaugural Wankys would care, but because my vision was that eventually people would rise to the occasion and show respect for this august gathering by dressing appropriately.

So here we are in the fifth year, with a rented dance floor, a Brazilian DJ, free food and beer for the first 350 wankers and wankettes, held in a giant beer warehouse in which to swill tacos and munch IPAs. If you wouldn’t get all gussied up for that … what would you get gussied up for?

Now with regard to that “You look like an idiot” observation. Hmmm. Carry on.



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PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 350 guests, so get there early.



18 thoughts on “Getting ready”

  1. I’m the other guy that watched that bow tie video, Wanky. Here’s my trick for getting the hang of it.

    Start one week before and tie a bowtie while watching the video, first thing on day one. Untie it and carry on. Do the same thing the next 3 days. On day 4, tie it without looking at the video. If you can do it, you’re golden. If not, use the video, again. By day 7, you’ll be able to do it beautifully – or you’ll suck at it…..and no one will notice anyway.

    Have a great Wanky Awards night!

  2. Alas, there was a time — way back in the 90s as a student abroad — that I could tie a bow tie without the use of a mirror. Now, I’m in the same boat as you, resorting to YouTube in a vain attempt to master the Windsor for work! Meanwhile, my friggin’ 14 Y/O kid, who is required to don formal wear for entrance into the hockey arena, has stolen all his grandfather’s silk ties and preens with fabulous aplomb. Unfortunately, I think this is a story about the glories of youth …

  3. Hi,Seth. I enjoyed the event last year. Great to meet so many people for the first time when they were not covered in lycra. Sorry to miss the event this year. My final race of Masters Track Worlds is on Saturday around 8PM. Jan


  4. Dear Brother Seth,
    Jan has laid waste to my LA plans for this weekend. Instead, I am going to some YMCA fundraiser and donating our sheckels to a worthy cause (the YMCA). Jan is on the board for the county YMCA (can you say “governing body”), and besides that, she has very persuasive powers over my libido…er…ah….(whoops!) I meant, “ME”. It is all her fault.
    Big, nasty, chainring marks on ankle, regrets.

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