October 30, 2015

I want to be a "bow tie" guy

Jim Limperis at our wedding in 2011
I want to be a bow tie guy. More specifically, I want to be a clip-on bow tie guy--a necessary distinction, but more on that later. I want to be a bow tie guy mostly because of The Bow Tie Guy, or as his family and close friends knew him, Jim Limperis.

This past weekend I attended the funeral of Jim Limperis who lost his battle to cancer at the way-to-young age of 59 [click here to read the obituary]. The service was overwhelming sad and poignantly beautiful. But just as this service was a minor footnote to a life well-lived, this blog post has very little to do with Jim's death. I want to be a "Bow Tie Guy" because well...I'm getting ahead of myself...

Let me start at the beginning.

Jim was one of the few people in the world that could make this guy seem docile and reserved.


He had an unmistakable voice that bordered on screechy and had a propensity to rise an octave or six as his excitement level grew (and he was almost always excited about something).  He had a bullish view on life and a particular brand of optimism that was as sincere as it was contagious. Every day was a good day for a run or bike ride, and some days even required a costume (e.g., his annual Santa Clause run on Christmas). He was the kind of guy that would impersonate a pro golfer and sneak into the clubhouse during a PGA event (true story), or con his way unto the field at halftime of a football game and somehow participate in a field-goal kicking contest (the winner got a car...he missed wide right).

Jim loved to laugh almost as much as he loved to make other people laugh. This is where the bow tie comes in.
Note: I could never describe Jim's life as well as his own daughter. Click here to read her post. It's beautiful, raw and honest. But most of all it's really, really true in the deepest and most important sense of the word. 
Jim was more caricature than he was character. He was hyperbole wrapped in exaggeration. There are people that love to laugh and have a good time. Then there was Jim. There are people that have the talent of not taking themselves too seriously. Then there was Jim. Like how a caricaturist exaggerates a person's features to highlight some aspect of that person's appearance, Jim caricatured all that is fun, funny, important and fresh in life.

Jim wore a bow tie to most "formal" events. Truth be told, I don't know the origins of when he started wearing them, or why. In some ways the bow tie was almost like a superhero's cape, but Jim didn't teeter between "mild-mannered Jim" over-the-top Bow Tie Guy. Really, regardless of neck accessories, Jim was the Bow Tie Guy and the Bow Tie Guy was Jim. It was like he wore the tie to help other people understand. It's like he was thinking most people are unable to have this much fun, love this hard and laugh this often. I need to find a way to communicate to them in a way they will get. 

Thus the bow tie.

As a general rule, bow ties have a way making people chuckle. Clowns and comedians wear bow ties. Or, really, anyone that doesn't want to be taken too seriously. Jim understood this. He understood that most people lack necessary adventure and humor. Jim had a mission to "un-civilize." I think this is a valiant cause, and one I believe in deeply. So, if you happen to see me at some formal (or semi-formal) event, there is a good chance you'll see me wearing a bow tie. In part, this will be to honor the life and legacy of Jim, but more so because I want to keep fighting the good fight the Bow Tie Guy started long ago.

Of course my own personal mission to un-civilize will incorporate clip-on bow ties. Allow me to explain.

I decided (along with Sarah's dad and brothers) that it would be fitting for us to wear a bow tie to Jim's funeral. We thought it would be an appropriate way to honor Jim. So at 10PM the night before the service Sarah and I went to Kohl's and bought four bow ties. None of us knew how to tie a bow tie, but figured it couldn't be that hard. The next morning, after about 49 failed attempts, lots of Youtube videos and a fair amount of profanity, we returned to Kohl's and purchased four clip-ons. We later learned that Jim--the Bow Tie Guy--had no clue how to tie a tie. Every single one he owned was a clip-on. We all agreed that this was Jim's magnum opus--his final practical joke.

Well-played, Jim. As always, you got the last laugh.

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