We did a fund-raiser before we left Alaska. After the theatrical performance I hid behind the set as long as possible, hoping to avoid being social. It had been a long day and I didn’t know if I could smile at any more strangers. Eventually, hunger got the best of me and I ventured toward the food table.
Oh, Miss Banfield, a voice called out, I’ve been waiting for you. Would you join me please?
I had to. It was my job.
Just one moment, let me get some food and we’ll talk.
I was in the mood for prime rib and potatoes, but settled for the crackers, cheese and bite-sized vegetables offered. I peered back at the circular table that was tucked in the corner, and quietly assessed the gentleman who had spoken; middle-aged, businessman, reliable, somewhat dull. A rapid evaluation, I concluded, and probably unfair.
Balancing an abundant supply of food on a tiny paper plate, I approached his table. He stood to pull out my chair, reached into his briefcase and placed a file on the table. Miss Banfield, I have figures I’d like to show you.
I blanched. Oh dear, I thought, he’s from the Internal Revenue Service. I stopped eating.
Don’t be alarmed. I have a list of assets I want to go over with you, just take a minute.
I slowly began eating and studied him again. He must be the bookkeeper from Pacific University, I thought. They were our financial host. Perhaps he needed me to take figures back to the main office.
I ate and listened, while he spoke of land, houses, machinery and cars. He disclosed his personal income and many of his intimate tastes. When he finished I was completely baffled, without a glimmer of comprehension. I wiped my mouth with a small green napkin and looked blankly into his eyes.
I don’t understand a word you’ve told me. What’s your purpose?
He straightened his back and became very formal.
I was wondering if you would consider marriage. As you see, I am a very stable man, well employed and respected. I own a great deal of land and have been looking for the right person to share it with. There is a shortage of women in Alaska, so I don’t have a bursting selection. Would you consider my proposal?
I was completely taken back, tried to be gentle, wished him luck and made a hasty exit. What a girl has to go through to have a meal in Alaska.