It seems Alaska has a reputation for a particularly unusual phenomenon. I'm not talking about the stunning scenery, the wildlife, the history, the folklore... I'm talking about the abundance of men. Whenever I tell friends, family and the occasional stranger, about my planned visit to Alaska in two weeks time, the most common replies seem to be: "Ooh, are you going to find yourself a husband?" or "Ooh, I hear there are a lot more men than women over there, lucky you!", as if my prime reason for going is to nab myself a native male.
But my curiosity was piqued, so I decided to do a little research, purely for scientific reasons you understand, and it's true... hallelujah. Alaska has the highest man-to-woman ratio of any state in America, or as the Alaskans call the rest of the US, the lower 48th. Very intriguing. So I dug a little deeper and found out why there were almost five men to one woman. Very simply, the biggest industries in Alaska are Timber, Oil, Gold, Fur, Fishing and Hunting. So, even in our progressive, equality-driven modern times, these are still very much male dominated work places. It's not that we can't do those jobs (eek!), more likely, it's that most women aren't stupid enough to do them. We don't really fancy getting tossed around in the deepest coldest ocean in the world, developing frost bite and losing fingers to ferocious King crabs in the Bering Sea; nor do we really like the idea of standing in a field, in the middle of nowhere, waiting for crude oil to explode all over us; nor do we want to spend our summers, smelling like dead ferrets in a forest inhabited by wolves and grizzly bears, whilst skinning rabbits for breakfast and shooting things. They're just jobs we would simply rather not do. But these jobs are hard. The men that do them are tough, so if you want a manly man, maybe you'd better come with me.
As you can imagine, I am not the first person to have discovered this. Women have known for years! Organised tour groups, full of hungry females, fly in from all over the world to find themselves a husband. They arrive in Anchorage and then spread out, covering huge areas, like a lusty forest fire. Even Oprah Winfrey got in on the act several years ago, and flew 20 single Alaskan bachelors in for her show, to see if she could find them a wife. There are also many, many dating sites, but the best one I found, has to be www.alaskamen.com. If you like a full figure and a beard, you're in luck ladies!
But it seems Alaskan men have different priorities than most males we're used to. They don't want attractive, funny, sexy, intelligent women, with soft skin, big boobs and white teeth... Actually, they do want all that, but what is more important to them is if you can wield a chain saw, chop wood and catch a fish. It helps if you are also a fabulous cook, great in bed and won't scare the wildlife without make-up, but having practical skills is the main priority. The kind of woman who could wrestle a coyote while downing a pitcher of beer... now that's wife material. I read an interview with an Alaskan woman about dating, and her advice was to go 'au natural'. Her claim to fame was coming first in a hairy-legs competition in her local bar. All the guys thought it was awesome, she said! And her prize was a date with any guy in the bar and some moose meat! Now that's my kind of place.
Some Alaskan men do sound like they have a few wolves short of a pack, though. I'm not referring to city dwellers here, but the men that make their living off the land and sea, bullied by nature in unforgiving conditions, for months on end. Fishermen and hunters, especially, lead very isolated lives, slugging their guts out for two thirds of the year, and then returning to so-called normalcy for the long cold winter, trying to keep sane until Spring comes again. It's got to make you a little nuts.
I found this joke which sums it up perfectly...
Three Alaskan men are sitting around a blazing campfire, exchanging tall tales about how tough they are. "I was hiking through the forest," began the first, "when a 10-foot tall bull moose with a 90-winch rack stormed out of a thicket and charged me. I grabbed him by the antlers and wrestled him to the ground and beat him senseless."
"That's nothing," said the second. "I was fishing, when a 2000-pound grizzly bear came after me and my catch. I ducked as he swiped at me, jumped on his back, strangled him and then skinned him with my own teeth."
They all turned to the third man, waiting for his story. He didn't say anything - just sat there stirring the coals with his bare hands.
If you are imagining George Clooney right now, all handsomely rugged in a lumberjack shirt and big boots, tough and mean on the outside, but underneath it all, a sweet, charming, warm-hearted, sensitive soul who just wants to be loved, by you... aahhhh. Think again! These men are hard through and through! I read about an American woman meeting a guy in a bar in northern Alaska. George, she said, was wearing a wolf-fang necklace and a freshly skinned racoon hat. But what had really put her off, was a large red scab on his face. When she asked him about it, he told her it was where he had burned off what he thought was a cancerous mole, but rather than go to the hospital which was hundreds of miles away, he just did it himself using some kind of acid.
It reminded me of one of the best quotes I have read about Alaskan men:
The odds are good, but the goods are odd!