The author with her husband at an Alaskan fish camp
Janelle Meraz Hooper
A variation of this story was published in my short story book, Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories…
I heard about a great Jewish guy from Alaska who went to New York City to look for a Jewish wife, and all of those big city gals turned him down. Seems they all got cold feet...before they ever left the Big Apple.
To be fair, part of the problem may be the way Hollywood portrays life in Alaska as a kind of a frozen Dogpatch. Truth is, the big cities in Alaska are just like any other big cities in the United States, only with snow. Maybe this guy should have had as many references for Alaska as he had for himself.
Or, maybe, he was looking in the wrong city. Why didn’t he come to Tacoma? There must be lots of beautiful Jewish girls here who aren’t afraid of a little snow.
If any of you ladies happen to meet a nice Jewish (or other) man who asks you to marry him and live in Alaska, here’s some advice from someone who did just that...and had a great time:
1. Alaskans like to say there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear...and it’s true. Don’t buy any winter outdoor clothing until you get there. It’s expensive stuff and you don’t want to have to buy outerwear twice. Then listen to the locals, they’ll tell you what you really need. One hint: don’t expect to be warm and toasty in a snow bank if you’re wearing jeans.
2. Take your sunscreen and your bikini. Summers in Fairbanks look a lot like summers in Washington. Temperatures are often in the nineties, and people sail their boats on the lakes, hike and fish just like other real people. In winter, travel agencies have great deals on trips to exotic places that grow pineapples and palm trees. You may see more tropical paradises living in Alaska than you’ll ever see if you live “outside” (Alaskan for outside of Alaska).
3. Leave your creature-phobias behind: there are no snakes, spiders or other obnoxious creepy creatures in Alaska. It’s too damn cold. This alone could be a good selling point to any woman.
4. Be prepared to entertain yourself. Days are short in the winter. If you’re not working, plan to keep busy to avoid the winter blues. This won’t be difficult. Alaska is rich in culture. Art and history museums abound...the opera houses so important to the gold miners have evolved into elaborate facilities that attract all of the Broadway road shows. Believe me; you won’t be starved for the arts.
5. Be social. Alaskans are very friendly. You will be invited to a constant stream of parties. Accept all of them. You’ll have a great time; Alaskans are the brightest, most creative, and adventurous people I’ve ever met.
6. Learn to love the great outdoors...there’s a lot of it. Thanks to a great infusion of oil money, Alaska is rich in multi-purpose trails that are used for walking, biking, and cross-country skiing...although, in some cases, you may have to share these amenities with a moose.
7. Don’t underestimate your female competition. Contrary to popular belief, Alaskan women are beautiful. They’re just as stylish as Northwest women and what the local Nordstrom doesn’t have they order from expensive mail order catalogs.
8. Have a big refrigerator. You’ll find out why soon enough: Alaskans describe their weather as nine months of winter and three months of company. The only people who get more company have addresses right outside Disneyland. Everyone wants to see Alaska...make a big bowl of pasta and gas up the car.
9. Have money. There’s only one down side to Alaska: it’s a long way from home. You can fly someplace glamorous for what it’ll cost you to fly to Sea-Tac between Seattle and Tacoma (go figure).
10. Don’t even talk to me about earthquakes. We’ve got those here, remember? Besides, they’re going to make your e-mails real interesting.
So, if some nice guy asks you to marry him and move to Alaska, my advice is to go for it. Chances are, you’ll have a great adventure, and when you revisit your old neighborhood, it’s going to look a lot smaller...in more ways than one.