Zach Stone: On Clothing and Friendship

"We all like presents. I love giving and receiving gifts. The other day I was reminded of one of the nicest presents I have received in a while: a bow tie from Hermes. It was not a memorable gift because it was from Hermes- even though it is likely to be the only thing I ever own from that venerable establishment- but, rather, because of the giver. I moved to Wadham in January 2010 when I was appointed as a Sub Dean. As part of my job I received partial SCR membership and occasional lunch rights. I distinctly remember quaking in my boots the first time I went to SCR lunch. Not because the Wadham Fellows are notoriously mean, closed, or tradition bound- happily the opposite in fact- but simply because I was a) a grad student and b) a Yank. I lived in utter terror of cutting the cheese in the wrong manner and being forever scorned as an uncouth American. Luckily for me, one of the tone setters of Wadham’s SCR happens is among the kindest men I on planet earth. I hindsight, it was probably painfully obvious I didn’t know anyone as it’s hard to hide when you are a 6-4 bearded American in a room of Oxford dons. Nevertheless, he dragged me from the end of the table into the thick of the conversation and generally ensured that I always felt welcome and was introduced to people and so on and so on. Switching gears, I wear neckties a lot. Basically, I find it much easier to be productive during the day when wearing a tie. It makes me feel grown up I guess. Moreover I have a predilection for bowties for many reasons, reasons I lack the space to delve into at this time. Remember, I am a rather noticeable person being large, American, and at the time quite beardy. Anyhow, friends recognized my affection for the bowtie and commented on it. It became a sort of college joke. One day I arrived at my pidge to be greeted by parcel of an unmistakable shade of orange. Attached was a note that said something to the effect of: ‘This was a gift to me, but I don’t wear bowties but you do. I thought you might enjoy it.’ Needless to say I was moved. I will not lie, it is a stylish piece of neckwear and I appreciate it as such. However, much like my boots, the physical act of donning and wearing it never fails to remind me of treasured memories. Especially at a phase in my life when I am again feeling insecure and venturing out into new, at times scary, environments. My friend’s real gift was friendship, as I warmly remembered when we bumped into each other yesterday as I was wearing the said bowtie and had a quick but encouraging chat."

-Zach Stone

Read more from Zach here.

(Image Source: Hermes)