And you know what the guys did with their money when they did work? Their money was for fun, and my money was to support them. That’s not going to fly with me.” Across the bar sat Bush Man Greg and Rich – the president of the Talkeenta Historical Society who had fetched the record-breaking bid last year at the ball. The others were the seasonal workers, oil workers, fishermen, etc, and they were the type Shanny had described. “People always ask, ‘So why don’t you ever date anyone around here? Sometimes you meet someone like that and keep in contact.I asked them: “Shanny said that all the men in Talkeetna just want a woman that has a job and a house and a pick up and is going to support them. As far as Mike was concerned, they weren’t the real Talkeetna men. But it’s a general rule I think: if they live here, you already know too much.
“Alaska takes a man that has a whole lot of guts and determination,” she explained. This past year we set a new record: $23,300 in the auction.” I asked them if they knew of any bachelors that had married the women that had bought them at auction. Four younger men stood and drank beer at the other end of the bar.
“But a lot of guys come here and they don’t have the determination. And that’s why in the Bachelor’s Ball the proceeds go to the abused women’s shelter.” Shanny instructed me and my friends to hold ourselves in high regard, and to never settle for losers. Given the chance to defend the men of Talkeetna, none seemed all too keen to talk, but outside of the bar one tapped me on the shoulder.
The opening ceremony to the Ball is the Wilderness Woman Contest in which, among other tasks, women must fetch water from a creek, prepare a sandwich, and open a beer for a lounging bachelor.
In round three, the finalists “must fill a sled with split wood, then tow it by snow machine and feed the wood into a bonfire, around which bachelors tell lousy stories.” As the Talkeetna Bachelor Society website explains, “‘.’ In the spirit of this humor, the Talkeetna Bachelor Society birthed the Wilderness Woman Contest.” But the joke is apparently not a joke. They really are,” explained Shanny, a 51-year-old blond woman at the bar in the back of Nagley’s. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family and kids and stuff.
“Wait through their first two or three years ‘til they get a job, a place to live, a car of their own,” she giggled.
The fishermen descend almost before we even make it through the door of the rattletrap bar.
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The townspeople hold an annual Talkeetna Bachelor Auction and Ball wherein single men in the town are auctioned off to female bidders.