Not a clip-on

Daejeong, le 30 mars 2021

I’m fighting to take off my bow tie.  It’s winning.  I am by myself in my house getting ready to go judge a mock murder trial organized by my wife’s ninth grade students.  Since my retirement not quite two years ago, I rarely need to dress up but in a few minutes, I will be a judge and I feel the need to look the part.

The last time I wore this bow tie was during the summer of 2019.  I was a member of Michel Brousseau’s International Choir from Montréal and Ottawa in Canada.  I am a bass singer in this 153 members choir.  We rehearsed one song for more than six months.  The fifty-one minute long Mozartz’ Requiem is to be sung in its original Latin in Saltzburg and Vienna in Austria and in Prague in the Czech Republic.  We are giving nine concerts in six different churches.  The required attire for the choristers is all black including the bow tie.

I have always struggled with this non clip-on bow tie.  It’s a good thing my wife accompanied me on this tour.  I always needed her help to do me up.  Stephanie had to learn the trick from Jeanne, Raymond’s wife.  He also can’t do his bow tie by himself.

Our first concert was in this beautiful church, they were all fabulously exceptional, in downtown Saltzburg.  We had just arrived in our hotel on the outskirts of the city the previous evening.  After breakfast, Stephanie and I noticed, from our room, the gathering of many of my choir members outside, in front of the hotel.  “I wonder what they are doing there so early?” I say.  “Our bus does not leave for another half hour”.  “Yes and we all know you don’t want to be too early” replies Stephanie.  Anyway, we slowly start to move to join the group.  Well, we were too slow.  It turns out there was a change in the schedule that I had not noticed.  When we got to the parking lot, the bus had just left… without us.

Stephanie and I did find our way on a city bus.  Because it was our first concert that late afternoon, we had a long repetition.  I was expecting our bus to take us back to the hotel for us to change into our concert attire but there was not enough time for that.  All my colleagues had brought their proper clothes to change in on site.  It’s the middle of July and here I am wearing shorts and a T-shirt.  Again, as I so often do when I’m in a jam, I turn to Stephanie.  There she goes off on the city bus to get my clothes and bring them back to the church as I go for a quick bite before the concert.

Classical music is not Stephanie’s thing but she has as she says:  “I feel so lucky to be admitted to the back rooms of these historical churches”.  She accompanied me into these back rooms to do up my bow tie because I’m too clumsy to do it myself.

These nine concerts were great successes.  Churches were always full of people who adore Mozart.  I sang in the church in Vienna where Mozart was married and in another where the Requiem was sung for the first time ever at Mozart’s funeral.  I got goosebumps.  Stephanie was always there to give encouragement, take pictures, make some short videos and, of course, help with my bow tie.  She would help putting it on and also taking it off.

Last Friday, Stephanie was at school.  I was to join her and her teenage students to play a role.  I’m a little nervous so I want to look my best.  I wear a suit.  When I come to the bow tie, I remember it’s not a clip-on.  I’m a grown man, I should be able to handle this small piece of clothing by myself.  I lift my shirt collar up and slip the belt of the bow tie around the collar.  So far so good.  It becomes quite tricky to buckle it up.  I’m in front of the mirror and, even though my fingers are not that big, I feel very clumsy with this tiny little buckle.  After a few minutes of looking at my fingers through the mirror, success, the bow tie is finally attached to my neck.  Now to tighten it.  If you can think of a few swear words of your own, I probably said them out loud and others too.  How difficult can it be to tighten a bow tie?  It is very difficult.  I am incapable to do it.  After a few minutes and more swear words, I’ve had enough of this bow tie.  Let’s forget about it and just wear an ordinary tie.

As hard as it was to buckle this bow tie, it was nothing compared to trying to unbuckle it.  Swear, swear, swear… and now I’m getting late.  I can’t be late.  I’m the judge.  They can’t start without me.  Swear, swear, swear…  I have another session in front of the mirror with my not so big fingers and this tiny, tiny buckle.  It has to come off but it doesn’t.  I consider cutting it off but how dumb is that?  I might want to wear this thing some other time when Stephanie is here to help.  I’m getting sweaty.  OK, let’s pull the whole thing over my head.  First try gets me up to my nose.  It’s too tight, my nose is too big, my head is too big.  Can I loosen the belt?  Can I shrink my head?  I try again and I get over my nose but my glasses are in the way.  The belt is over my eyes, I cant’t see a thing.  It’s too tight, very uncomfortable.  I succeed in taking my glasses off but I cannot get the belt past my eyes.  My head is too big.  And now I cannot get it back down, my nose is in the way.  I still see nothing.  I’m getting more and more frustrated.

I take a deep breath and go very slowly and… finally, I get the thing over my head.

To whoever invented clip-on bow ties, thank you!

3 thoughts on “Not a clip-on”

  1. Wow! That was quite the ordeal. Cutting it off would have been quite the ending. Perhaps you will invent a bow tie with a magnetic clasp.

  2. Such fantastic experiences singing in so many wonderful places. And your experience with the bow tie made me smile 😊

  3. The tension built, and by the time you had the tie on your head, I had a clear mental picture of your struggle. You would be lost w/ out Stephanie. You have time to learn to tie the bow tie. Watch some YouTube videos! BTW, I’ve had a dress or two stuck on my head. This is not fun. My husband has been an integral part of my getting unstuck.

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