The Non-Expert

Bow Ties and Dog Years

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we kick off the first installment of our new feature, The Non-Expert’s Desk, with questions about wedding fashion and canines.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


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Question: I am going to a friend’s wedding in July and he’s asked us to wear black tie. Now, I want to wear a bow tie but not a stupid clip-on. What color should I get, and more importantly, how do I tie it? And who is today’s Gene Kelly?

Answer: Wear a black tie with a matching black cummerbund. This assumes you’re planning to rent a tux, but let’s play it safe and say, ‘Rent a tux,’ because anyone asking what color bow tie should be worn to a black-tie wedding can’t be far from wearing a cummerbund with jeans and ‘Mork-from-Ork’-style rainbow suspenders.

Let’s tie the tie. It’s easier than you think:

1. Stand in front of a mirror. Drape the bow tie around the back of your neck, so the two ends are dangling out front. Give yourself a big smile and say, ‘Did somebody call the cops?’ Make sure you’re totally naked, except for a police belt with a billy club.

2. Make one end of the bow tie slightly longer than the other. Cross the long end over the short. By now you should already have blow-dried your hair into a lion’s mane of sexual prowess.

3. Growl—but make it a playful growl. Bring the long end of the bow tie through the center at the neck, as if you’re tying a knot. Form the front loop of the bow by doubling up the shorter end and placing it, horizontally, across the front of the knot.

4. If there’s a copy of Prince’s ‘Kiss’ lying around, play it. Hold onto that tie! Drop the long end over the horizontal loop, forming a similar loop with the long end.

5. Push the second loop through the original loop. Tighten the knot by adjusting the end of each loop and wonder aloud, ‘Is it tight enough?’ When no one answers, holler, ‘Is it tight enough for ya?’

Now go to that wedding, work the crowd, and see if middle-aged women aren’t showering you with twenty-dollar bills by the end of the night. You’ll have wiped Gene Kelly off the map.

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Question: Why is seven used as the multiplier when trying to calculate a dog’s age in human terms? And why is that number then referred to as ‘dog years?’ Shouldn’t it be, ‘That dog is fifty-six—in human years—but in dog years he’s eight?’

Answer: While it’s common to multiply a dog’s human years by seven to achieve its age in dog years, the calculation is inaccurate. A two-year-old dog isn’t 14 in dog years—it’s 24. How can this be? The answer comes from another advice columnist, Abigail Van Buren.

Abigail Van Buren is actually two people, Pauline and Jeanne Phillips, a mother-daughter duo sharing a single pseudonym and co-creating the legendary ‘Dear Abby’ advice column. Their partnership is similar to Orville Redenbacher teaming with his grandson Gary to promote the family popcorn brand on television in the early ‘90s: they looked the same, talked the same, and all but formally announced that the older partner would be dead in a few years.

Here’s what Abby had to say about dog years: The first year of a dog’s life equals 15 human years. The second year is an additional 9, making the dog 24 on its second human-year birthday. Every year thereafter, add 4. So on its fifth birthday, the dog is 36:

15 + 9 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 36

The reason for making this conversion in the first place is to approximate a dog’s age in a way that humans can relate to their own lifespans. A one-year-old dog is like a teenager, for instance. We could just as easily reverse the mentality and say that a 6-year-old human is acting like a 40-year-old dog, but this is bound to confuse the child. Dogs, on the other hand, don’t generally care what humans are saying.

In closing, I wish to note that on June 22nd of this year, Esther Pauline Lederer, a.k.a. Ann Landers—the twin of sister of Pauline Esther Phillips—died of cancer. Orville Redenbacher died in 1995 after suffering a heart attack. They were 16 and 18, respectively.