"Bills, bills, bills. One is born, one runs up bills, one dies." - Blackadder, Blackadder the Third
Left: Pugsley pushes a car. I love it when The Boy takes pictures like this - the perspective they provide is fantastic, especially when he focuses on the dust bunnies.
I promised more on the differences in between Texas and Alaska. I like to keep the promises that I want to keep, so, here are some more:
Interest level. Texans are very, very interested in Alaska. Alaskans consider Texas too small to worry about. I get my hair cut at the local SuperCuts™ and have darn near started a hairstylist mutiny because I described the conditions in Fairbanks where the stylists won’t work on Saturday or Sunday (the big days for tips down here) because they make enough money for Pez® and pantyhose during the week, and are hungover or something on Saturday.
Permits. Everything down here requires a permit. Government is just as inefficient in Fairbanks, but there’s so much less of it than down here. When there isn’t enough government to suit us, heck, we band together to form homeowner’s associations so we can argue about how many beer cans you can throw onto your lawn and leave sitting for a month before you’re officially branded a “nuisance.” (For the record, it must be more than a twelver. Maybe I need to buy beer in shinier cans?) There are also things called “building codes,” whatever those are.
Choices. I’m the kind of guy that can go to the same restaurant and order the same thing every single time I go out to eat. I ate (true story) the same thing for lunch every single day that I had lunch in high school. Variety in food isn’t important to me. Picky as hell? Yes. Novelty required in dining? No. Here in Houston it’s choices galore. Most average restaurants are as good as the best dining available in Fairbanks. STOP IT. I wish there was just one place to go. The Mrs. (reasonably) wants to, in a town with 734 restaurants per person, to go to differing places. Me, it just makes my head ache. I know what I want to eat at the places I’ve been. Going to a new restaurant makes me as confused as George Clooney is when he’s playing characters that aren’t, well, George Clooney.
More Choices. We went to one grocery store in Fairbanks, got our prescriptions there, too. Do we really need the seven different grocery store chains within a mile of my house? The sixteen pharmacies? Oh, they all sell beer? Nevermind. We can keep those.
Weather. The obvious. I’ve yet to break out a winter jacket here. The Mrs. entered Pugsley’s room the other night and thought it was a bit chilly. She thought to herself, “I’ll have to have John fix that before winter.” Then she realized it is winter. It’s already as cold as it will get. Fortunately, Pugsley has good, umm, appetite-related insulation. More insulation for his room? Nah. More reinforcement for his floor? Maybe.
Traffic. More cars on a single mile segment of road at 8am than there are in Fairbanks. All of them (except for mine) are
Doctors. Doctors in Houston are like bimbos in Hollywood. Cheap and numerous. Hopefully not dumb. In Fairbanks, it costs a sack of gold and a blood oath to get a prescription. Here, doctors follow you home to see if you need to have your pillow fluffed.
Houses. Like doctors in Houston and Paris Hilton, houses are cheap here, too. Nice houses: they’re in the $60/square foot price range. In Fairbanks, houses are expensive, and I never could figure that one out – it’s not like Alaska’s not made of land.
One thing both places share is pride. Alaskans feel (outside of the federal highway money) that they’re an independent sort. They don’t need others. At midnight on the local radio station in Fairbanks, they play the Alaskan Anthem. In Texas, they’re sure there isn’t another state, and if you make Texas mad, it will just chuck the Stars and Stripes and go back to being the Lone Star Republic. I was in Home Despot® and was making my ritual donation of $157.23, when I chatted with a clerk. He was from Arkansas, and had lived in Texas for five years.
His advice: “When a Texan asks you how long you’ve been living in Texas, you just tell ‘em that you might have been born someplace else, but you got here as soon as you could. They love that.”