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It's a Long, Lonely Search for Men Looking for Love in Alaska
The New York Times ^ | July 21, 2004 | SARAH KERSHAW

Posted on 07/21/2004 8:50:36 AM PDT by Willie Green

For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.

NOME, Alaska, July 15 - It was late on a summer evening at a saloon on Front Street in this dusty mining and fishing town on the Bering Sea, and the men were excited.

The bar, Breakers, was packed. And standing on the beer-stained floor was a most unusual sight for Nome's many bachelors: women.

There they were, an oasis in the Arctic, shooting pool, giving out phone numbers, dashing off to the restroom to apply lipstick, coquettishly sipping drinks bought by their suitors, including a popular cocktail, "Love Me Tender," made with gin and peach vodka.

"Aren't they so fantastic?" one single man said to another. "I wish they wouldn't leave us."

Summer is a time of hope for the unattached men of Nome, a tough gold rush town of 3,500 people in Alaska's far western corner, where single men outnumber single women by almost two to one. Each June, with the midnight sun come the summer interns - this year, seven fresh-faced women in their 20's from across the lower 48 states. They work on a nutrition project with Nome's Alaska Natives and then spend many of their nights barhopping.

In July, a troupe of traveling strippers from Minnesota makes its annual stop in Nome; the other night, five topless dancers drew a huge crowd to another Nome saloon for their show, "Erotica."

Seth Augdah, 24, a ticket agent for Bering Air, attended the topless revue, and he was heavily flirting with the interns at Breakers the night before. But there was a certain sadness in his eyes.

"The summer influx is great,'' Mr. Augdah said. "But I would like something long term. My friends keep telling me, 'Seth, one of these days, a girl will move to town, and she will be perfect for you.' I'm still waiting for that day."

Alaska is known for its abundance of single men. Gold miners, oil workers, hunters, trappers and fishermen moving here in droves to live out the fantasy of a rugged, prosperous life on the frontier, a fantasy not often shared by women. The latest census data show there are 114 single men for every 100 single women in Alaska, compared to 86 single men for every 100 single women nationally (and 80 to 100 in New York State.)

The current ratio in Alaska actually reflects a slight improvement, from the single man's perspective, over 10 years ago. In 1990, there were about 94,000 single men and 75,000 single women, while in 2000, there were about 113,000 single men and 100,000 single women, according to the census. Forty-eight percent of Alaska's 650,000 residents are women, according to the 2000 Census, up from 47 percent in 1990.

Complicating matters for lovelorn men, Anchorage and Fairbanks, the state's two largest cities, are becoming the fast-growing hot spots of a new demographic - lesbians. Alaska now ranks 12th in the nation in its concentration of lesbian couples per capita, said Jason Ost, a researcher at the Urban Institute and the co-author of "The Gay & Lesbian Atlas."

The increase in the number of women here is largely because of the growth of urban areas like Anchorage and Fairbanks, where life has become much less isolated and difficult and therefore more appealing to women, experts say. The Internet and "big box'' stores provide the kind of conveniences that were lacking in much of Alaska until just a decade ago.

"What is happening is that the cities are normalizing," said Judy Kleinfeld, a professor of psychology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and the director of the university's northern studies center, who specializes in gender studies. "City life is just like life in the lower 48, and there's no particular reason why women should want to leave."

But Professor Kleinfeld, who has conducted extensive interviews with unattached men living in the bush, acknowledged that bachelors looking for love in rural areas of Alaska were still facing tough odds and that mail-order brides were common.

"In a place like Nome, they are still asking, 'Where are the girls?' " she said.

If the shortage of women is less severe now in the big cities, Jason Friars, 25, who lives in Anchorage, has neither noticed it nor reaped the benefits.

Mr. Friars, a hotel cook who moved to Alaska a year ago from California, was interviewed one evening at a downtown bar called Darwin's Theory. When asked about the dating situation, he paused, took note of who was at the bar and announced bitterly that there were 22 men and four women, including a female reporter from out of town.

"I have one girl in mind right now," Mr. Friars said. "And she has 200 options."

Repeating a commonly exaggerated interpretation of the male-female ratio, Mr. Friars said, "The women up here, they know it's 10-to-one odds, so they can be as picky as they want."

There was some evidence of pickiness among women on an online dating Web site, Plentyoffish.com, where an Anchorage woman recently posted a message headlined "Bye Bye Losers."

"I am a female who knows what she wants and will stop at nothing to get what I want," the woman wrote. "That means what I want I get and I will not take no for an answer."

On the same site, where there were significantly more Alaskan men seeking women than women seeking men, a man posted this message: "Bushdweller seeks good woman," saying, "I live out in the Alaska bush {lcub}wilderness{rcub} leading a back to basic lifestyle. I have no electricity except when I use a generator. I haul water and heat with wood."

A bartender at Darwin's Theory, Brandi Domas, 31, said she saw many solo men at the bar.

"These guys are really sweet, and they should not be sitting here alone," Ms. Domas said. "I tell them to import, to go out of state, bring a girl back and then watch her close. Import, import, import!"

But the women had complaints, too, and it seemed, from dozens of interviews with singles across the state, from Nome to Juneau, in the southeast, that Alaska was embroiled in an intense war of the sexes. A popular cliché about finding a man in Alaska is, "The odds are good, but the goods are odd." A popular cliché about breaking up with a woman in Alaska is, "You don't lose your girl, you lose your turn."

"Men? They are looking for someone who can skin a moose and bring home a sixpack of beer," Liz Lynch, 37, a single publicity agent for an oil company, said. "A lot of women out there say, 'Get thee to Alaska.' But they're nuts. And I like a mountain man, a rugged individual, oh, my God. But these guys don't commit."

In terms of the male-to-female ratio, things have not changed much in Nome, famous for its rough saloons, its frontier state of mind and for being the last stop of the annual Iditarod dog sled race.

And Mr. Augdah, the wistful ticket agent, is not alone. Well, he is alone, romantically speaking, but he has plenty of male friends who are single, too. According to the Census, there are 598 unmarried men in Nome, not counting widowers and divorcees, and 344 unmarried women.

One of Mr. Augdah's friends, Haven Harris, 25, an aide to a state senator from Nome, said that he had not had a girlfriend in years and that he was planning to move to San Francisco by the end of the year to find a woman. The ratio of single men to single women in California is 92 to 100, according to the Census.

Mr. Harris made reference to the long, dark, freezing, icebound winters in Nome, which is 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

"I want to live in Alaska all my life, but it's hard being in the bush in Alaska when it's so hard to find someone," Mr. Harris said one night between innings at a softball game on a gravel field in the tundra. "If you're going to live up here as you get older, you're going to want to be with someone."

The interns, socializing later that night with Mr. Harris and Mr. Augdah, said they were warned about the male-female ratio before coming to Nome last month.

"My friends thought it was funny they were bringing all these nutrition girls to Nome," said Kelly Keyes, a 26-year-old intern from Worcester, Mass. "And they kept saying, 'The ratio, the ratio, the ratio! It's 30 to one!'"

"You get a lot of attention here," Ms. Keyes said. "The guys are like 'Woo!' "

At Breakers, Mr. Harris was pulling out all the stops with Ms. Keyes and the other interns, massaging their shoulders, mentioning that he worked out five times a week, impressing them, he hoped, with his cue shots and quick wit.

But near 2 a.m., as the midnight sun was setting, he left the bar alone.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: Alaska
KEYWORDS: singles

Dreamed I was an eskimo
Frozen wind began to blow
Under my boots and around my toes
The frost that bit the ground below
It was a hundred degrees below zero...

And my mama cried
And my mama cried
Nanook, a-no-no
Nanook, a-no-no
Don´t be a naughty eskimo
Save your money, don´t go to the show

Well I turned around and I said oh, oh oh
Well I turned around and I said oh, oh oh
Well I turned around and I said ho, ho
And the northern lights commenced to glow
And she said, with a tear in her eye
Watch out where the huskies go, and don´t you eat that yellow snow
Watch out where the huskies go, and don´t you eat that yellow snow


1 posted on 07/21/2004 8:50:38 AM PDT by Willie Green
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To: Willie Green

I see that the love lives of single Alaskan men beat out any coverage of Sandy Berger.


2 posted on 07/21/2004 8:54:31 AM PDT by ICX (This tagline was inadvertently removed from the National Archives.)
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To: Willie Green

Note to self: Check out www.Plentyoffish.com :>)


3 posted on 07/21/2004 8:56:00 AM PDT by apackof2 (Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body Pro.16:24)
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To: Willie Green
"I live out in the Alaska bush {lcub}wilderness{rcub} leading a back to basic lifestyle. I have no electricity except when I use a generator. I haul water and heat with wood."

Hard to see why any woman would want to pass all that up.

4 posted on 07/21/2004 8:56:54 AM PDT by Maceman (Too nuanced for a bumper sticker)
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To: Willie Green

A few words of advice to these lads.

Fourth avenue in Anchorage for sex.


5 posted on 07/21/2004 8:56:59 AM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: Willie Green

Maybe there's hope for China's male/female ratio problem? Some anthropologist could use this as a good case study.


6 posted on 07/21/2004 9:01:19 AM PDT by Odyssey-x
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To: Willie Green

Geez, I remember when it was a big deal for girls to get Dietetic Internships at MCG or Emory.

Now its Alaska (sorry guys, but I like indoor plumbing too much).


7 posted on 07/21/2004 9:02:34 AM PDT by najida (Who said I could spell? My fingers are faster than my brain.)
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To: RightWhale
Peak Easy says we will not run out of women but that it will get more expensive. 4X
All these alternatives are more expensive. It is too late.

Good news: Hotter-burning sun warming the planet

8 posted on 07/21/2004 9:05:48 AM PDT by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: Willie Green

Big question: do those homesteads have indoor toilets?


9 posted on 07/21/2004 9:09:39 AM PDT by Ciexyz ("FR, best viewed with a budgie on hand")
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To: Willie Green
They work on a nutrition project with Nome's Alaska Natives and then spend many of their nights barhopping.

Nice to see tax dollars put to good use.

No, that was not sarcastic. I don't mind if it means these poor fellers git to see a woman once in a while.

Then again, these guys chose this lifestyle, knowing full well how harsh and lonely it was.

10 posted on 07/21/2004 9:10:01 AM PDT by MamaTexan (Liberals are just communists in metro-sexual clothing)
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To: Willie Green

Amazing to see Nome like that now, word must have gotten out because if I recall, during the 80's single women outnumbered single men 4 to 1.


11 posted on 07/21/2004 9:13:20 AM PDT by RedBloodedAmerican
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To: Willie Green
Alaska is known for its abundance of single men. Gold miners, oil workers, hunters, trappers and fishermen

Alaska, as the women say: "Where the odds are good, but the goods are odd."

12 posted on 07/21/2004 9:19:00 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Willie Green
Alaska was made for country western music, but my favorite quote was:

One of Mr. Augdah's friends, Haven Harris, 25, an aide to a state senator from Nome, said that he had not had a girlfriend in years and that he was planning to move to San Francisco by the end of the year to find a woman.

13 posted on 07/21/2004 9:19:18 AM PDT by xJones
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To: Ciexyz; martin_fierro; xsmommy
Big question: do those homesteads have indoor toilets?

Perhaps.
But I think the permafrost prohibits them from putting one in the cellar next to the laundry tub.

14 posted on 07/21/2004 9:19:41 AM PDT by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: Ciexyz

It is easy to spot married men by their cars. There are three kinds of pickup trucks. One kind is driven by a young man on the prowl--why they would prowl the streets of Alaska loking for wimmin is a mystery. Another kind is driven by working men who wear Carharts and carry various construction materials in the bed of the truck, or driven by men who have expensive toys such as dirt bikes, snowmachines, and riverboats. The second kind is either happily married to a real pioneer woman or has substituted gasoline engines for wimmin. The third kind carries a 300 gallon water tank in the bed. The third kind is a married man with need to carry water to the home every day. Wimmin need a lot of water.


15 posted on 07/21/2004 9:21:44 AM PDT by RightWhale (Withdraw from the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and establish property rights)
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To: Willie Green

I gotta do this!

When I was in Alaska I was old and fat (already) and I had to beat the women away with a pool cue. Granted, they were usually married to someone else, but their husbands were off in the hills, hunting or digging for gold or something else to make them feel good about themselves. If they’d only stayed home and worked at the local grocery store or broker’s office their wives wouldn’t have been bothering me and their marriages wouldn’t have been breaking up.

It never failed; when moose season opened the bars filled up and when breakup came around and the miners took off for the hills the same thing happened. It’s the same all over the world; women want attention and if their husbands won’t give it to them… Well, someone will.


16 posted on 07/21/2004 9:21:47 AM PDT by oldfart ("All governments and all civilizations fall... eventually. Our government is not immune.)
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To: Willie Green

Me love you long time!

17 posted on 07/21/2004 9:23:59 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim (Be a Dollar a Day FReeper, and SMILE when you get your Mastercard bill!)
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To: Willie Green
One of Mr. Augdah's friends, Haven Harris, 25, an aide to a state senator from Nome, said that he had not had a girlfriend in years and that he was planning to move to San Francisco by the end of the year to find a woman

Well. Good luck with that. Do a close inspection before you go home with "it".

18 posted on 07/21/2004 9:24:33 AM PDT by Hank Rearden (Refuse to allow anyone who could only get a government job tell you how to run your life.)
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To: Willie Green

Love is where you find it.

 

19 posted on 07/21/2004 9:30:02 AM PDT by Fintan (Put...the candle....BACK!!!!)
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To: Willie Green
Each June, with the midnight sun come the summer interns - this year, seven fresh-faced women in their 20's from across the lower 48 states.

They must go home in August "walkin' funny".

20 posted on 07/21/2004 9:30:45 AM PDT by PBRSTREETGANG
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To: Ciexyz

"Big question: do those homesteads have indoor toilets?"

Sure, just not the flush kind. They call them "inhouses."


21 posted on 07/21/2004 10:14:20 AM PDT by wyattearp (The best weapon to have in a gunfight is a shotgun - preferably from ambush.)
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To: Clemenza

And you complain about Seattle?


22 posted on 07/21/2004 10:47:16 AM PDT by Cacique
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To: Willie Green
The latest census data show there are 114 single men for every 100 single women in Alaska, compared to 86 single men for every 100 single women nationally (and 80 to 100 in New York State.)

Sure...sounds to me more like a lot of single men in the Lower 48 just blew off the census takers.

23 posted on 07/21/2004 10:52:03 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves
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To: Willie Green

Who sponsors these summer internships?


24 posted on 10/07/2004 2:33:38 PM PDT by bebopfan
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To: ICX

Somebody can't do basic arithmetic.
2:1 would be 200 men , 100 women but later in the article
it says 114 men to 100 women.

The ration is 1.14:1.
They are hardly starving for female companionship.


25 posted on 10/07/2004 3:26:47 PM PDT by TASMANIANRED (What did Kerry know and when did he know it?)
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