“I haven’t been with a woman since she died,” he says.
“How long ago was that?” I ask.
His eyes well up, and his voice trembles as he leans in. “Six years, six months and 11 days.”
Time for us to get out of here.
Annie and Tara
We had traveled 4,500 miles from Washington, D.C., to wind up here, in Homer, Alaska, a fishing village whose nickname is “The End of the Road.” We were on some kind of quest, but for what exactly? At the moment we were talking to Whale Tooth Guy, it wasn’t exactly clear.
Earlier that month, we — two harried Washington Post reporters — had been sitting in the newsroom cafeteria with a colleague, lamenting the state of our love lives. One of us was recovering from an on-again, off-again relationship that had finally finished its death spiral; the other was nursing a broken heart and in the meantime had taken up with a thrice-divorced playboy nicknamed Gator.
Winter had found us single again, and we were feeling as if we had lost our mojo. Never mind that we each had our own issues: too much wanderlust, a habit of falling in love with the wrong men. We launched into a debate familiar to single women over 22 in the greater Washington area: Is it us? Or is it D.C.?
We live in a metropolitan area that has one of the largest percentages of single women in the United States. Add to that the idea that many guys here are more interested in power than in romance, and you have a potent recipe for single-gal gloom.
Our married colleague Freddy, who was noshing on a container of leftovers, piped up.
“Why don’t you two go to Alaska? Plenty of guys there.”
We looked at each other. Go to Alaska?
The more we thought about it, the more it began to make sense. Alaska has the highest man-to-woman ratio of any of the 50 states. We were used to blue-suited guys who hunched over their phones and dragged around briefcases stuffed with legal documents — or the nuclear codes. What — and whom! — would we find in Alaska?
A few weeks later, we arrived in Anchorage. At dawn, we were awakened in our airport hotel by the howls of sled dogs in a nearby kennel. It was a lonely, mournful sound, but it felt like the perfect welcome.
A single sheet of paper from the U.S. Census Bureau titled “Population by Sex and Selected Age Groups for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: 2010” contains a telling statistic: For every 100 women in Alaska, there are 108.5 men. For every 100 women in the District, there are 89.5 men, fewer than in any of the 50 states. (True, the District is a city and not a state, but come on.)