Floating amidst a new season’s hatch of ski bunnies and buckaroos, Mr. Henry found himself distinctly out of place. At the entrance to the Mangy Moose bar, they carded him, a courtesy and a compliment he accepted very graciously.
Seeing that no one among the beer-swilling mob had been born before the completion of Mr. Henry’s undergraduate education, however, he retreated to the mammoth pine log fireside to read Jane Austen’s Emma.
He was surely the only person reading for a radius of many miles.
A hard day of falling down on slick, packed-powder moguls had left his body humming all over. He was thrilled that each of his knees still retained most of their function. He was thrilled that he had not perished on the slopes, flattened by a snowboarder on energy drink. He was sure the glass of Moose Drool Brown Ale was the finest he had ever tasted. The high-hipped, blond waitress of peach complexion, ready smile, muscular thigh and genuine unenhanced American bosom served him with such graceful enthusiasm that all of Mr. Henry’s resistance against empty-headed, slacker youth began to melt.
Mr. Henry chose his position between the fire and the door with care. The afternoon’s beany lunch of vegetarian chili and ‘everything’ quesadilla served mid-slope in the Casper restaurant was working away at his vitals. To best protect the Moose’s good patrons as well as to protect Mr. Henry’s personal honor, a windy corridor was needed. To its credit, the Moose is appropriately drafty.
The Mangy Moose at Teton Village in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is a paradise for skiers as well as for meat-eaters. Although the roast beef and pork chop are the toughest he has ever eaten, resistant enough for alpine outerwear, once your teeth manage to soften them Eskimo-style they taste quite good, especially the chop. The real treat comes with the salad course – a genuinely old-fashioned, crisply delicious, iceberg lettuce wedge topped with crumbled blue cheese dressing. Mr. Henry was so moved he tasted Mrs. H.’s ‘Ranch’ dressing, a surprisingly toothsome buttermilk mixture.
The Moose’s finest features, apart from the sunny and robustly beautiful waitresses, are the walls and rafters. All manner of frontier detritus hangs there: bathtubs, tractor seats, stuffed raccoons, bedpans, baseball bats, scythes, arrow points. The Moose is the most interesting museum in Wyoming, the only collection that captures the genuine spirit of the old West without a double slathering of hokum. After all, nothing is phonier than the Old West.