By Callie Doremus
He wears his heart on his sleeve? No, he wears his heart around his shirt-collar. If you’re waiting for that chap in the bowtie to burst forth in supercalifragilisticexpialidocious or greet the class with “cheerio” or bring out the other guys in the quartet or toss you a carnival hot dog, then you have seriously mis-associated the meaning of a bowtie.
“He sported the bowtie look.” That was all sophomore Jenna Harbeck (a freshman at the time) had heard about Professor Scot Bruce, as she waltzed into second semester ATC. Harbeck continued that out of sheer amusement from his out-dated style, she and her row of friends began scribbling down additional notes that sounded a little less like history facts and a little more like “Christmas plaid bow tie, brick red and gold patterned tie, yellow gold bow tie with black dots…”
Bruce explained that he does not answer the crucial daily question, “Which bowtie to wear?” without consulting the expert. “My wife helps me out when I have to ask, as all men do, ‘Does this one actually go with this?’” he said.
“I’ve never asked him why he wears bowties,” Harbeck said. “I don’t even think he knows my name or the fact that I was recording his old-fashioned look.”
As to why the bowtie, Bruce admitted that while he does dig the look and easy-to-tie accessory, it is simply a way of honoring his father’s memory. Although the 61-year-old Wheaton College professor (and avid bowtie wearer) passed in 2000, his quirky style survives through his son.
“So,” one may ask, “what is the average age of the frequent bowtie wearer?” In sophomore Jonathan Anderson’s opinion, that’s easy: “old.” According to Professor Bruce, the answer is “probably well over 50.” Well Bruce is neither old nor over 50 (some would say those are one and the same), yet a decade ago at age 28, he began adding the extra bowtie zing to his daily ensemble.
“And wearing a bowtie is not so much a matter of age,” Anderson said. “It’s a matter of maturity.”
Anderson admires that Professor Bruce brings back the dying (possibly more like dead, decayed, and disintegrated) bowtie fad with confidence. “He inspired me,” Anderson said, as he now has self-confidence, at a mere 20-years-old, to don his own bowtie due to Bruce’s “classy” and “fantastic” example.
Yet not everyone knows how to react to the bowties and ensembles they are paired with. “They cause all sorts of consternation,” Bruce said, especially when he wears something like his vibrantly red sports coat with a silk green bowtie. “One student came up to me and said I almost looked like a used-car salesman!” he chuckled.
“But if my father were here, he would probably be laughing along with everyone else,” Bruce added.