When I sent my book Polar Bear Dawn to an editor for a manuscript evaluation, I was told the book was too long and too many characters. I cut out 20,000 words, and in some of those words were the strange love stories from Alaska. Well, some of them were too good to pass up, so here they are.
The first story I heard was from an Anchorage cab driver. I was heading from my hotel in Anchorage to the airport.
“Where are you headed?” The cab driver asked. He was native Alaskan, small in stature, high cheek bones and wispy beard – I thought he might be a Inupiaq from the Alaskan Arctic.
“Prudhoe Bay,” I answered.
“I used to work there,” the cabbie said with a smile – he glanced back at me in his rearview mirror.
“So, why did you come back to Anchorage?” I was curios. Prudhoe bay is the home of Alaskan oil. A person cleaning rooms made 60K a year, an oil worker made 90K and above. But they worked two weeks in and one out.
The cabbie laughed, “I called back home, and my cousin answered the phone. I asked my wife – hey why’s my cousin there – and sitting on my couch? And my wife said…well…your not here!”
“In Alaska – easy to find a job – hard to find a wife!” The cabbie said laughing hysterically at his own punch line.
That was my initiation into the strange stories of love life in Alaska. That trip to Prudhoe Bay gave me another story. I was there to do a trade show in safety work wear, and I was told of man who’d been mauled by a Bear that summer.
The man dropped by my trade show booth, and I had to ask him about his experience. He said he’d been out with this wife hunting Deer. They’d shot one and were cutting it up when Bear attacked him from out of the woods.
“How’d you get away from the bear?” I asked.
“My wife shot it,” He answered calmly. “But she didn’t get him right away…so the Bear bit on me a little bit.” He showed me an arm with healed indents of Bear teeth.
“Your a lucky man,” I said.
The big man in a set of big blue overalls grinned, “Hell, yeah, a man needs a wife who’s a good shot – she’s a real keeper.”
The following summer, I was in Anchorage on business, and one of my customers, an Alaskan resident, told me how he’d fallen in love with his second wife.
“We went out to my camp at the lake,” he said, “And that was the day I knew I was in love with her.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“Well,” my customer said, taking another pull of his beer and chewing on some Halibut cheeks,” She cut half a cord of firewood while I went fishing…my god a real Alaskan woman!”
I remember just shaking my head and smiling. I knew I’d never understand Alaskan’s.
My last strange Alaskan love story was in March in Anchorage. We’d finished a trade show, and we ended up at Chilkoot Charlies.
This is probably the strangest bar in Anchorage. Or the ten strangest bars as they’re linked together by some sort of weird system of hallways and stairs. Rock and roll, blues, and Karoke all flow somehow from room to room. The motto of the establishment is “We Cheat the other guy, and pass the savings onto you!
And that night, as we drank Alaskan Amber Ale and listened to really bad karaoke being belted out by alcohol induced singers – we witnessed a couples wedding bliss.
A young couple, he dressed in top hat and tails over a tee shirt, cargo shorts and hiking boots, and her in a tight fitting red velour evening dress that showed her ample curves with matching hiking boots, were dinning on chicken wings and beer at a table in the corner.
“They actually booked that table a week ago,” the bartender said. They came out of the bush yesterday…their wedding night,” He added with a shrug.
The bar full of Alaskan’s and visitors serenaded them with karaoke songs, and sent beer to their table. They were in wedding bliss.
My customer turned to me, “Yeah, it’s Alaska and it’s love.”
And those are some of my stories that I wanted to put into Polar Bear Dawn. It was fun to share them with you.
You’ll find more of my stories, the fiction kind, in my books Dolphin Dreams and Polar Bear Dawn on Amazon, Kindle and Kobo.