Bow Tie

We finally met and tied one on tonight. The encounter had been years in the making. I just didn't think it would involve me and the mayor of Edmonton and my wife with a video camera in front of a washroom mirror in an artist's colony on 118 Ave.

The Nina Haggerty Centre is a wonderful hub of hope in the Alberta Avenue neighbourhood. Tonight it hosted the Alberta Artists With Brain Injury Society on the happy occasion of its 10th anniversary. Shelagh serves on the Nina board, so I get to hang out there every now and then. Tonight, artists, board members, community leaders met to celebrate the event and there were beautiful words spoken by those who help artists with damaged pathways get around their obstacles and to a place where they again, in paint, plastic, glass, fabric and ink, can make their voices heard and imaginations felt.

Mayor Stephen Mandel dropped in again and praised the work of all involved. When he and I had a chance to talk, I took the opportunity to ask him the question I have long wanted to. No, not should we spend more money on potholes, but the real question: how do I tie a bow tie?!

(Earlier this week I landed a coveted University of Alberta tartan bow tie from Sean Price in the Alumni Affairs Office. I couldn't pass up the opportunity.)

So, following the mayor's orders, we were off to find a mirror for the lesson. Shelagh rolled on her iPad. This is the comedy she captured!

In the New York Times, Warren St. John famously wrote of the bow tie that it is "worn by magicians, country doctors, lawyers and professors and by people hoping to look like the above. But perhaps most of all, wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think."

I like that note. I have to think more about the bow tie. For now, it strikes me as a much more alive knot, one needing tweaks and touches, than the dress tie that just, well, hangs there.

I did get it—with some help!
But here's the other part of the equation. Without a guide, I would still be in front of the mirror trying to figure it out. The mysterious task of turning a piece of fabric into a bow tie delivered that strange feeling of disjunction between the picture in my brain and the ability of my hands to bring it to life.

The bow tie may, indeed, broadcast a lack of concern for what others think, but the truth is we can't even tie one by ourselves. Thanks, mayor. Thanks, Nina.


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