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How I Came West, and Why I Stayed

It was a long, strange trip, over frozen plains and rivers and into the mountains; but when the going got really tough, I'd close my eyes, and there they were: Lisa, in camouflage pants, stalking bears; Debbi, in blaze orange, wheezing out female elk calls till huge bull elk stampeded down the hills, ready to perform.

Now I stood outside the Silver Dollar Saloon, the wind whipping around my collar, my hands like two lumps of ice even in my thinsulate-lined mittens. The sky was cluttered with stars, but I couldn't stand there staring at them all night. I took a deep breath and pushed my way through the swinging doors.

My glasses steamed up, but I could tell everyone was looking at me by the dead silence that dropped over the room. I took off my glasses and wiped them clean on my neckerchief. Then I put them back on. I'd been right; every head in the bar was turned toward me, and the faces were sort of orange, and puffy-looking, in the light from the video games.

I cleared my throat. "I'm looking for cheerleaders," I said.