In the Starbucks I come to to write to you there is a young man that wears a bow tie making coffee for people. I must’ve come in here 40, no 50 times maybe, and every time he’s working, and every time he’s wearing a bow tie. It’s always a different one too. Like he’s got a whole drawer just for bow ties. I imagine him pulling open that drawer every morning and making that decision. It’s a decision not many people make anymore, but he does. Every morning. Every single morning he wakes up, gets dressed, and chooses a bow tie out of his collection. He’s ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’. If this was a Seinfeld episode, he would be called ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie”. But this isn’t a Seinfeld episode, yet he’s still probably known to a lot of people as ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’.
Today he’s wearing a little blue one with white polka dots on it. I was sitting in here, writing about something else, when I saw him breeze past on a skateboard. On a skateboard with a bow tie. If he hadn’t been wearing the bow tie I wouldn’t have recognized him. Yet I recognized the bow tie, even though I couldn’t be sure if I’d seen that one before.
“Hey-“ I started, scanning him for a name tag, “man, can I ask you something?”
He smiled, and looked back to jug of milk he was foaming. I looked at the bow tie.
“I’m just that guy.”
“Excuse me?” I said. I could only just hear him over the screaming pot of milk.
“I’m just that guy. I’m the bow tie guy. I wear bow ties.”
“Well, I’m the bow tie guy in the same way that you’re not the bow tie guy,” he said, turning the handle and bringing the milk to silence. He banged the jug against the surface. “If someone asks about you, I’ll say ‘Who? The guy without the bow tie?’ And they’ll know who are.”
I looked at the jug on the surface. The foam had started to thicken and become porous. His free hand pulled a little at the bow tie, straightening it. I looked back to him.
“No-” I said, looking at the polka dots again. “You think so?”
“Oh yeah,” he said, spooning the foam onto the dark espresso. “Everyone that sees you knows that you don’t wear a bow tie.”
I watched him pour the milk through a little brown hole in the center of the foam, mixing with the coffee underneath. I wondered how I would look in a bow tie.
“I don’t think that they’ll identify me as being someone that doesn’t wear a bow tie.”
He turned his bottom lip out as he sat the milk jug back down on the surface.
“Chocolate?” he asked.
He handed me my coffee and smiled.
“You don’t know what they’ll identify you as.”
“But you do.” I said.
He shrugged and looked down at the register.
“That’ll be $3.67 please sir,” said the guy with the bow tie.
“Thanks man,” said I. The guy without the bow tie.