The other night I was at a small dinner party at a dear friend's house. She and I have known each other literally our whole lives. Out friendship has waxed and waned but since college our friendship has only gotten stronger. It's great to have a friend who knows you so well and who you know so well. We don't see eye to eye on everything but we have the kind of friendship that has been around so long that it would take an awful lot to break it.
So we were having this dinner that she made in honor of her younger brother who was off to new adventures and several of his friends were in attendance. Now I haven't seen her brother in ages although I usually am kept up to date with his goings-ons through her and in some ways he and I have a lot in common - the constantly traveling all over to weird places to do work for one. Still, it came as a surprise when his friend's reacted to meeting me by saying "Not the Fairbanks, WS, is it?" and then proceeded to announce that they wanted stories. I have plenty of stories but I always find it hard to start when someone just asks for one, kind of like when someone asks me to say something in another language I know (I finally solved the latter one by always saying "I don't know what to say"). I need a little warm up and to get a flavor for the people I'm with before I launch into any.
Needless to say when we were all sitting down for a fabulous meal one of them started asking real questions about Alaska. It's always interesting to me what people ask about it because it reveals a lot of the mythology that is out there about the state. I don't remember what the guy asked though because Longest Friend burst in with "I would never live in Alaska. Have you ever seen WS's legs? I mean they're white! So white, you wouldn't even believe it! I mean first it's so damn cold they have to wear all these layers and then they have maybe a week where they can wear shorts and then the mosquitoes come out and you have to cover up! I mean, her legs are practically see through!". The poor fellow who started the question said meekly "But they don't have skin cancer." And she fired right back at him "No they just freeze to death." At this point I was laughing so hard I was overcome with a coughing fit (that pesky Thanksgiving crud still hanging in tough) that lasted the better bit of a half an hour and couldn't defend my poor state or my legs. Although she's right about the cold and the mosquitoes (and probably my legs but last I looked I can still see a distinct tan line from my time in Morocco - I should have just pulled up my pant legs and let the company judge for themselves. Granted, one winter I visited my parents after having not left AK for an entire year and I was so pale people kept asking me very pointed, concerned questions about my health).