FASHIONABLY UNCONSCIOUS: Louis Farrakhan did not ask Maya Angelou to write a poem about them, although they deserve one. They are a long-suffering lot, their plaids and stripes arrogantly displayed from New York's garment district to the south, and all points west, although their stuck-sideways attitude doesn't exactly fit with a flannel shirt above a belly and a western belt buckle.
They are a much maligned group, but are solidly favored at annual society balls and fundraisers where they show up prominently and often. Women may select and straighten them out somewhat, but do not, I fear, favor them for themselves. I was never attracted to them myself, although they do make charming, sometimes comical, accessories at parties.
Tightly in with the intelligentsia, you might see them at some of the Ivy League schools walking around, a stuffy air surrounding their academic presence.
Their stripes are often displayed in law offices, and you know their history in banking, although I notice fewer and fewer these days, as they are not exactly client-friendly.
Although they are a tidy bunch, spiffy some say, there is almost a sneer about them, as though they were better than all the rest, they with their efficiency and sharpness.
You don't just wake up one day and be one. To become one, you have to go through a rather complicated conversion which takes skill and knowledge beyond that for which many people have true dexterity. Never think you can just clip on the attitude à la Pee-Wee Herman.
From their humble beginnings in cloth, their extraordinary success is amazing. Klein, Lauren, Karan. Seen in all the finest European shops.
People rightly debate them, call them snooty, affected, loud, strange, different. It's interesting how they manage to transcend generations and recreate themselves. But they have never really managed to blend in, if you know what I mean.
I guess Louis Farrakhan is attracted to them for their sharper-than-you-image, their restrained elegance. But they also say protection. Remember their history: Their ancestors protected the throats of Croatian mercenaries working for the French army; that's when swords were in vogue for the proper slitting of throats. Thus from the Croat, the cravat.
Call them what you will--cravat, solitaire, neckwear. I will call them the bow tie, the small blush of fabric that pokes out from under the jutting chin of the Rev. Farrakhan and his entourage of guards, the emblem of the Nation of Islam.
When I see Farrakhan I can't take my eyes off his tie, it looks so neat, so tight, so perfect.
But when I hear him malign a race of people, call them bloodsuckers, denounce their God and their religion, my eyes swing from his tie to his racism and I pray a million men will not follow him into the deep pain created by ignorance.
Depending on the tide of fashion, bow ties may get bigger or smaller, more maligned or less, but they will survive the fashion blip that is Louis Farrakhan.
You can tie that with a knot, warriors.
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