The 2012 Talkeetna Bachelor Auction was the most profitable ever, and possibly the most raucous: a four-hour howlfest that had at least one woman literally swinging from the rafters.
I am not making that up. This was a late-30s/early-40s woman sitting in my row in the upper level of the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar. Several times she got so carried away that she grabbed hold of an overhead beam and swung from it.
When I say “carried away,” I mean “under the influence of alcohol.” But she was not alone. Let’s just say that a whole lot of red Solo cups got filled up — and emptied — that night.
Lest you think the event was just a drunken revel, let me say that….well, it pretty much was. But damn, it was fun, and not everyone was actually drunk – on alcohol, anyway. I don’t drink at all, yet I felt a sort of osmotic intoxication, carried away by the presence of a hundred or so screaming women.
Be careful what you wish for
One of the two emcees was the angular and elegant Marnie, bartender at the Fairview Inn – which is where the idea for the auction and Wilderness Woman Competition was born back in 1981.
The most common gripe at the Fairview, she said, is “Where’s the chicks?” Now those mopey dudes were faced with a room full of XX-chromosomers – “and they’re scared shitless.”
Some of them were. You could see it in their eyes. But they overcame their fears long enough to dance, stroll, stride and in one case even fall off the runway. Their little turns on the catwalk raised about $14,000 for local charities.
Last year I wrote about the event as a series of make-believe tweets. I didn’t actually report it on Twitter then and I didn’t this year, either – in part because the wi-fi kept kicking me off and in part because carrying an open laptop on icy streets would not have been a good idea.
In the interest of silliness, I’m mock-tweeting some highlights of this year’s auction and competition. All the iPhone photos are courtesy of Alison Willis.
Breakfast at Harley’s Old Thyme Café before we leave. Way too much. In a good way. #roadfood
So much road food, in fact, that I can’t finish. Two slices of bacon left for my niece’s dog. #begginstripsareforamateurs
New record set: A little over 2 hours to Talkeetna, 114 miles away, thanks to clear, dry roads. #alaskansforglobalwarming
Hardly any snow on the ground in Talkeetna, either. Not good for the local economy. #skidoouponblocks
Indescribably great views of Mt. McKinley and the also-rans, Foraker and Hunter. #uglystepsisters
Missed the Parade of Lights (mostly snowplows and emergency vehicles) as it passed hotel. I was in the bathroom. #postcholecystectomydigestiveissues
Also missed the parade downtown – for some reason it actually started as scheduled. #whateverhappenedtotalkeetnastandardtime
Went to the bachelor meet ’n’ greet at VFW. Lots of young bachelors this year. #cradlerobbing
Brief instant of horror when I realized I’d lost my qiviut smoke ring, a wonderfully warm (and expensive!) accessory. #qiviut=greatscrabbleword
In VFW bar, asked question that wouldn’t make sense anywhere else: “Did anyone turn in a smoke ring?” #alaskavernacular
Happy ending: Someone had turned it in. #honestpeopleROCK
The great outdoors
I needed that smoke ring the next day: The warmest it got was about 10 degrees, and not until mid-afternoon. #atleastitsnotfairbanks
Sign at microbrewery: “Try a can before you buy a man.” #dutchcourage
The famous “salmon dill dough” pizza is back! #sayitfast
Biggest field ever for Wilderness Woman Competition. #stonecoldthriller
One contestant did the first heat in slacks & sports bra. #heatisarelativeterm
Announcer jokes about delaying the start for a few minutes. Contestant drops to icy street and does pushups. #alaskawomenkickass
Doesn’t put shirt right back on after she finishes. #alaskawomenfreezeass
That’s one tough dame. I bet if she did the Polar Bear Plunge she’d stay in long enough to wash & condition her hair. #alaskawomenrule
Her secret weapon: airplane-sized bottle of tequila, chugged with friends. #didsheswallowtheiceworm
Dog barks at guy dressed as moose. Stops when guy raises mask, revealing himself as dog’s owner. #havewemet
Dog barks some more. #yourenotmydad
Canines are everywhere in this town, except on leashes. #itsadogslife
A rousing evening
Prime rib night at the Latitude. #whatnomooseroast
Thought we were early to the auction, but tables already sold out. We head to upper level. #yousnoozeyoulose
Local, nameless band plays a while. What it lacks in intelligibility it makes up for in volume. #turnthatcrapdown
I have an idea for band name: Bachelor Balls. #heeheeisaidballs
First bachelor goes for $650. #toorichformyblood
All others go for at least $100. #nocouponseither
Probably because the auction now accepts credit cards – and because bachelors are tax-deductible. #auditredflag
Former auction organizer laments inflation. “Band members going for $250? I used to sell them for $25!” #thosewerethedays
One guy has gift for winning bidder: coyote-fur hat with bear claws on its string ties. #thisaintneimanmarcus
His description: “Everything on that hat, I killed.” #makesyourheartgoPETApatter
“Foxtail dance” guy wears workboots along with the fur jockstrap. #stylin
Two members of our group bid and win. #taxwriteoffs
Crowd is kind of loud. Some guys look kind of scared. #estrogenpoisoning
Hormones are definitely a factor: A couple of winning bidders make out with their guys onstage. #getaroom
Niece and I skip the post-auction dance. Our reward: gorgeous aurora borealis. #lightupthenight
The day after
Breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse: A pancake bigger than the plate on which it’s served. #carbohydrateparadise
“Rudy in a parka,” the cheese-stuffed reindeer sausage in potato dough? Still funny. #bakedgoodsarentusuallythisamusing
The roadhouse also has public showers, for which you can buy a punch card. #discountpersonalhygiene
One guy wears an “ATF” hoodie. In gun-crazy Alaska? Then I notice it stands for “Alaska Troutfitters.” #potentiallydangerousacronyms
McKinley et al. are still visible when we hit the road. What a treat. #postcardviews
The trip back is sunny and scenic. Until we hit Wasilla, anyway. #nozoning
As always, a great time – and it would be even more fun if some of you join us next year. #shillingforalaska