There’s nothing like people-watching at a bar. I turned 21 in February and since then half the fun of going to the bars has been watching other humans stumble over each other.
This summer I spent many a weekend in the Mat-Su Valley, and was finally able to check out a few of the bars I’d grown up around, only dreaming of what was behind their narrow entrances. Some were smoky and grungy and absolutely what I expected. Some were the complete opposite. But overall there was one common thread: an abundance of moustaches.
I never thought much of it, because, in Wasilla, a moustache on a 50-something guy is something that’s fairly commonplace. Kind of like worn-out Carhartts or the fact that they own more than three hunting rifles.
And somehow the moustache fad I know so well from the Valley has been transported to Anchorage.
I’ve been living “in town” for over three years now, and can finally see the differences between the quiet, strip-mall clogged community I grew up in and the urban sprawl that makes up Alaska’s largest city. The women from the valley have a penchant for dying their hair unnatural colors, that the men have a thing for mullets and that we all have a slight upper-Midwestern twang to our speech.
I’m not ashamed of where I came from. To me, the Valley is still one of the most beautiful places in Alaska, and the people are some of the kindest, most generous souls in the world.
But I’ve been shedding my Valley skin. I wear North Face jackets with Pashmina scarves. I eat at Mooses’ Tooth at least once a week. I love the clash of rustic and yuppie Alaska that makes up Spenard. I own three different types of Teva sandals.
But there’s one thing I haven’t been able to shed: a love of moustaches.
It’s not a sex-appeal thing. Really. It’s just a small thing that reminds me of home.
I can’t begin to count the number of people in my life who have had a moustache; dog mushers, doctors, family friends. Even my dad has had a moustache for all of his adult life. If he ever shaved it, I don’t think I would recognize him.
Lately, they’ve been roaming UAA’s campus. It’s not a large part of the population, but it’s enough that everyday I see someone new sporting a ‘stache.
Part of me wants to think that maybe Brad Pitt’s toothbrush moustache in “Inglorious Basterds” has something to do with it. Or that maybe the World Beard and Moustache Championships that were held over the summer has inspired a whole crop of young moustached men.
Or maybe, it’s the Valley.
Let’s face it, after the last election, it’s possible that the small town of Wasilla (full of “real”Americans) is more famous than big-city Anchorage. So doesn’t it seem possible that maybe the Valley mustache craze would invade A-town?
Thursday morning I walked through the spine between the engineering building and the Student Union. Right before I hit the double doors, there was another one. A big, thick Burt Reynolds of a ‘stache. On a kid who couldn’t be more than 22. It was glorious.
After over three years of torment about being a redneck hick from the Wasilla, finally Wasilla trends have descended upon Anchorage.
So, welcome to the Valley. Whether you like it or not.