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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Move over, Miss Manners. Mr. J. Rhett Clement of Boiling Springs, SC is the new social arbiter of American taste, and he says I am bigly- yugely- Out.Of.Date.

The animal spirits are running high among the sore winners of social media these days.

In a discussion on a friend’s Facebook page- something or other about Mrs Trump- yesterday this comment by one J. Rhett Clement appeared:

J Rhett Clement Get over it HATERS, She's the first lady now!!
At least she has CLASS, something that has been missing in the Whitehouse.πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜‹

I replied with a question:

Lindsay Thompson Define "Class" please, J. Rhett Clement. Feel free to use yourself as an exemplar.

I posted that January 21 at 10:37 am. I figured a man who considers a former model who did nude photo shoots simulating lesbian amours before becoming adored by evangelicals had some decided views he, too, tries to model in his life and would jump at a chance to dilate upon.

Mr Clement studied on the matter until around 1:30 this morning, and decided to pass on the chance to elaborate on his views. Instead, he gave me a right sharp one:

gibbs head slap.jpg

J Rhett Clement Lindsay it sure ain't a bowtie , I think your out of date, time wise. There is a spell checker too!!

Let’s take Mr Clement’s points in order:

1: “Lindsay it sure ain't a bowtie , I think your out of date, time wise.”*

As an ad hominem attack, Mr Clement’s riposte is poor.

For bowtie wearers, indifference to the J. Rhett Clements of the world is a first principle.

People who wear bowties are like the old general in the Flannery O’Connor story: they don’t give two slaps what people like Mr J. Rhett Clement think.

It’s nothing personal. I’m sure few, if any, bowtie wearers have ever heard of Mr J. Rhett Clement. I haven’t. I can live with that.

I see where Mr J. Rhett Clement lives in Boiling Springs, South Carolina.

South Carolina is the second most popular state when it comes to bowties, it turns out. A Father’s Day 2015 story in The State- South Carolina’s leading newspaper, reported,

“Our bowtie business is the best it’s been in our history,” said Perry Lancaster, store manager at Brittons of Columbia. “With us setting the record (for the most bowties tied in five minutes) back in February of 2014 and Lucky Levinson (Brittons co-owner) having the No. 1 most-viewed YouTube site in the world, our bowtie business is stronger than it’s ever been.” Levinson’s video shows how to tie the perfect bowtie.

Even necktie sales are “doing alright” this year heading into the busy Father’s Day shopping weekend, Lancaster said. “But it’s mostly bowties.”

In fact, four of the top five states for bowtie sales are in the South. Perhaps Mr J. Rhett Clement feels menaced, or surrounded.

Nationally, bowtie sales doubled from 2010 to 2013. In 2014 the trade mag MR reported, “bowties continue to do well for some retailers (they tend to be regional or catering to a younger, more fashion-forward customer) in an otherwise flat neckwear market.

Since 2009 Google searches for bowtie have been four times as high as those for neckties.

Bowties remain the default neckwear for formal occasions, as we have seen this week:

trump bow.jpg

The Scots TV producer Steven Moffat says,

See the bowtie? I wear it and I don’t care. That’s why it’s cool.

Cooper Ray, a 13th-generation Southerner and bowtie designer for Brooks Brothers, said- in The Wall Street Journal, no less,

Whenever I wear one, women smile.

cooper ray.jpg
Mr Cooper Ray of Charleston, SC

I respect Mr. Ray's perspective. My family has been in North Carolina for twelve generations, but we are country people in the main.

Warren St. John of The New York Times wrote of the hooptie:

But perhaps most of all, wearing a bowtie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think… A list of bow-tie devotees reads like a Who’s Who of rugged individualists: Theodore Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill and Fred Astaire wore bowties, as did Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York and Paul Simon of Illinois.

To those one can add Groucho Marx, The Cat in the Hat, Andre 3000, Playboy Bunnies, Waylon Smithers, The 11th Doctor Who, James Bond (for 70 years, no less), Abraham Lincoln, Bill Nye Johnny Depp, Pharrell Williams, and Dr. Alfred Kinsey.

John Glenn, America’s first astronaut, wore bowties.  So did Col. Sanders. So did President Roosevelt. Both.

Tucker Carlson made his name in media wearing bowties. Then he went to Fox News and became a dullard because Roger Ailes’ tastes ran to blonde babes.

I’m betting more people know and respect those characters more than those who, facing a style dilemma, wonder, WWJRCD?

In 2014, when a ten-year-old fan gave Justin Timberlake a bowtie, he called it, ““The greatest gift ever – because a gentleman can never have too many bowties.”

Justin Timberlake is also way more famous that J. Rhett Clement. I don’t need to know J. Rhett Clement to know that.

In a 1995 Atlantic article John D. Spooner recalled a friend who summed up the emblematic meaning of the bowtie:

A bowtie is like the ideal life," Mike told me. "You have to play with it, tweak it, to get it right. Even then, of course, it's always a bit askew. But it should be."

Dr. Seuss said, “You can’t dribble on bowties.” Indeed, a 2013 Bloomberg News story noted,

Recent converts to bowties have found they have some enduring advantages. They’re easier to wear than long ties, and they use less fabric -- 37 inches instead of 57 inches for neckties -- making them a bit lighter, Macy’s Guion said. They also sit on the neck, so the wearer is less conscious of them and they’re less prone to food stains.

The band Outkast says,

Crocodile on my feet
Fox fur on my back
Bowtie ’round my neck
That’s why they call me gangsta mack
In the Cadillac!! Yeah!!!

They even titled the song “Bowtie.”

There is a National Bowtie Day. It comes every August 28.

Mr J. Rhett Clement has a birthday, I assume. I do not see it noted in listings of national events and holidays, though. There is no J. Rhett Clement Day.

I looked hard, too:

Screenshot 2017-01-22 at 18.55.49.png

Maybe Mr J. Rhett Clement hates on bowtie wearers because he can’t tie one. This should not be a source of shame: 99% of men can’t. A common caution to newbies is, “Remember, tying a bowtie is like tying your shoes in the dark while drunk."

I can do that.

Here are some other interesting facts about bowties:


Here’s Mr J. Rhett Clement’s second comment:

“There is a spell checker too!!”

Mr Clement must feel ‘exemplar’ is mis-spelled, as every other of the thirteen other words I used is correct.

Exemplar- the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “fit to be imitated (arch.); typical, illustrative”- has, however, been spelled as I spelled it since its first known appearance in English in 1570: “The Exemplar Number of all things Numerable,” Preface to Euclid.

(I cohost an internet show about rare books. This sort of thing is my briar patch.)

You could look it up- "exemplar." It’s always a dodgy business to chide someone else’s spelling when you don’t know how it is spelled yourself. It invites comparisons.


* As Jimmy Carter said he wouldn’t speak of pardons when he ran for president, I will not use the term “spellcheck” here, or draw attention to Mr J. Rhett Clement’s use of “your” where “you’re” would have been correct.

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