… you might be a cheechako

By Sean Pearson

First things first. If you have to ask what a cheechako is, you are one. (I really hate it when my point is moot.)
Nevertheless, that doesn’t actually preclude you from reading any further. Somewhere along this diatribe, perhaps you will come to know the enlightened path of the Sourdough. Then again, there are some things you just can’t truly experience by reading about them. Maybe it’s time to pull up those big-boy Carhartts and man-up to the real Alaska experience.
Being a Sourdough is more than just achieving that perfect “Alaska” look. That being said, there is a certain acquired “state of being” that comes with being a Sourdough. Generally speaking, these are fairly subtle nuances that can only be recognized by trained, professional “Sourdough Spotters.” (Don’t try this stuff at home, people. Someone could get hurt.)
Sometimes though, you will notice one wandering aimlessly in the Safeway parking lot dressed in only boxer shorts, XtraTufs and a “No Annexation” T-shirt. He — or she — may be muttering something about big box stores and seawalls — and losing cars in parking lots.
Which brings us to the topic of a Sourdough’s car. Regardless of how many cars they own, Sourdoughs will realistically have at least one of the following:
• A rusted-out pickup truck covered in sand and salt corrosion, bearing an “Exxon Sucks” bumper sticker.
• Any kind of Subaru.
• A vehicle that was taken by the tide.
• A car of any brand on blocks near the garage.
• Absolutely NO vehicle that has less than 10 chips, cracks or bullet holes in the windshield.
In fact, if you have less than 10 chips, cracks or bullet holes in anything you own, you might be a cheechako.
OK … wait.
I know I could continue this running dialog of trivial Alaska crap via the above-utilized “Jeff Foxworthy catchphrase” — or loose interpretation thereof. Unfortunately, I find it rather old and tired, so I’m going to opt for the more “straightforward” method of just telling it like it is.
If you still think Alaska is not a part of the continental United States, you are a cheechako.
Hmmm. Maybe I’d do well to back up a bit. You know, explain a few things.
First of all, there is no “official” line to cross in order to become a Sourdough. As far as I know, there is no hazing or initiation involved, nor is there a secret Sourdough handshake. (I’ve got a really cool idea for a secret decoder ring though. I mean, if someone was into that kind of thing.)
There is also no specific time period one has to have lived in the state of Alaska in order to qualify as a Sourdough.
(Disclaimer: The debate on the above statement continues, as we’ve yet to have a final ruling from Homer Sourdough Society Sergeant Val McLay. Rumor has it, no one actually qualifies as a Sourdough, according to Val’s rigid standards. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with actually being conceived in Alaska more than 55 years ago.)
And while there is no official dress code, some of the above-referenced items such as XtraTufs and Carhartts are kinda understood as the uniform of the Sourdough.
Being a Sourdough does not come with any particular scent. Sometimes it may be a mix of smoked salmon and WD-40, while other times a combination of Pushki and a Scottish Red Knot. More than likely, however, you will not find a Sourdough wearing Axe Body Spray or Luv’s Baby Soft.
Sourdoughs rarely need bug spray, as their blood is considered too “tough and viscuous” for mosquitoes. Many dare not even bare their tiny mosquito proboscis in the same vicinity as a Sourdough out of respect.
Oh, and — for the record — having a “special encounter” with a bear does not make you a Sourdough.
Sleeping in the woods with bears and singing them lullabies does not make you a Sourdough.
“Whispering” to the bears before they eat you does not make you a Sourdough.
It does, however, make you stupid.
Oh, and if you still think there really isn’t a place beyond our borders called the “Outside,” you are definitely a cheechako.
It’s a jungle out there.

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Posted by on Sep 8th, 2010 and filed under Spiew. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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