Monday, February 2, 2015

Some Not-So-Furtive Thoughts On Furrys And/Or Furries


If you looked at my recent website history, your brow might furryow (I mean, furrow). Once you scroll by Food That Looks Like Celebrities, things take a sharp detour into The New Furry’s Dictionary, Furry Name Generator, Furry Fandom: The Ultimate Guide, and my favorite, Dr. Phil Found His Furries.

I do love animals, and yes, I’m one of those people who thinks it’s acceptable to talk to dogs, but no, I promise you, I am not a “furry.” At least not yet. I did, however, become interested in the group after I watched Mika Brzezinski laugh and flee the stage following discussion of a news story about a furry convention gone awry. 

Her reaction, sans the off-stage fleeing, looked a lot like mine. 

As a grown adult, who parades around wearing a fur costume with other people parading around wearing fur costumes? Wait, it goes beyond that. As a grown adult, who celebrates and shares their admiration for make-believe animal characters that walk and talk like humans? 

Well, fans of furries do, that’s who. Members of the furry fandom are those who “appreciate, promote, and produce stories and art about anthropomorphic animals, as well as explore, interpret and examine humanity and human values through anthropomorphic expression. This includes animated cartoons, comic books and strips, stories, artwork, costumes, and stuffed animals.”

See: not creepy at all. Nothing out of the ordinary. No red flags. 

One of the cable networks has the slogan “Characters Welcome,” which might as well be my personal jingle when it comes to writing. I write for the sake of developing characters, often much to the detriment of plot. Who cares what X is doing to reclaim the great love of X’s life when X is a Bigfoot chaser with an IQ above 130 who is in the process of having a tribal tramp stamp removed because it reminds X too much of the death of X’s mother?

I don’t know. I’m shy and an introvert (yes, those are different qualities). I have a hard time milling with the masses, so maybe inventing fictional people is my way of attempting to better understand my fellow human beings. Or feel a little more comfortable chitchatting with them. Maybe that just sounds like lame psychoanalysis. 

Whatever it sounds like, writing about characters a tad outside the grid of normalcy is something I strive to do. A lot. That’s why when I heard about a chlorine gas leak at a furry convention, I couldn’t resist. This lack of resistance led to:  


HOW TO CRASH A FURRY CONVENTION 

  1. Albert Einstein said, “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” Discover what makes a furry tick. Go beyond the stereotypes or Googling anthropomorphism. What are the hopes and dreams of the average furry? Do they vote in off-year elections or enjoy off-roading? What brand of toothpaste do they prefer? If asked to choose one: Bugs Bunny or Tom and Jerry? 
  2. Pick the right outfit. Keep in mind: fursuits run in the thousands. If you’re on a budget, a tail or a decent set of ears will do. 
  3. What’s in a name? Everything, actually. Focus groups are a.) too expensive and b.) too time-consuming. If you’re all thumbs with adjectives, visit a furry name generator website.
  4. Nab a cab. After all, you might want a cocktail (or three). Wearing a fox head behind the wheel is also not recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  5. Grease the doorman. Sure, a nice bottle of sparkling wine or a crisp hundo could work, but creativity and craftsmanship with this group count (e.g., a signed copy of Watership Down, a handmade plushie, a Moleskine sketchbook).
  6. Never fear begging, crying, faking credentials or the occasional white lie. Should all else fail, evoke the Explosive Diarrhea Clause.
  7. Don’t be a lone wolf. Once you’re in, look for somebody affable (e.g., kittens, squirrels, bunnies) and introduce yourself. Open with a compliment and proceed with smalltalk. Avoid politics, religion, Mika Brzezinski, your recurring nail fungus, yiffing, the media, that dream you had last Thursday, that one CSI episode, the health benefits of kale, or the fastest, most direct route to __________.
  8. Mind your manners. You’re human, so behave like a human. Running around barking like a dog or flapping your wings and screeching like an eagle sizing up its prey will not score you free tickets to Anthrocon.
  9. Flattery will get you everywhere: "That detail work on your dragon scales is amazeballs."
  10. Be a witness to the occasion. Carpe Diem! 

Listen Up A-Listers
Listing. I’ve been guilty of falling victim to this form as of late—perhaps because I’m the scattered working mother of a toddler—and though I’m pretty far from being anti-list, I felt like employing the technique in the above example was a cop-out, a convenient way for me to orchestrate the obvious: satire. Or worse, middle-school ridicule.  

Furries are different. Okay, maybe on another sun in another solar system different, but who am I to mock? 

  • I’ve been known to talk to myself to the point of my toddler asking, “Mommy, who are you talking to?” 
  • My dog, who also happens to be female, humps me. Mind you, I’m not on all fours or anything, but I’ve told myself her behavior isn’t really untoward. However, it is, in fact, disturbing. And untoward. 
  • I have an irrational fear of bees, wasps, hornets, flying ants that look like bees, anything bee-like or bee-ish. I will not only swat and run from them, but also catapult spaghetti inside a moving vehicle at the mere thought of their seemingly benign contact. 
  • When certain sport’s teams lose, for which I have zero control, it often affects my mood for the entire day … and possibly the next … and the next. 
  • Until I became a mother, I bathed. Almost daily. 
  • I have anxiety over playing the simplest of card games or doing the most basic of math.
  • Via the phone, I’d prefer never to make reservations, doctor’s appointments, travel arrangements, inquiries into billing discrepancies, pizza orders, home repair requests, and so on and so on. If I had my druthers, I’d never answer my phone. When something requires dialing and then communication through dialing, ninety-five percent of the time I will ask my husband to do it, and he usually will do it. Because I do the laundry.
  • Speaking of laundry, I will only buy Tide detergent. Ever. 
  • I can’t parallel park and refuse to relearn it. Thank God I live in Kalamazoo, MI. 
  • I’m a closet fan of Totino’s Pizza Rolls, words that end with n’, the Eagle’s song “Lyin’ Eyes,” Vanderpump Rules, and in certain cases, the deliberate, reckless use of clich├ęs.

Whether you feel this list classifies me as weird is your call. Trust me, I’m embarrassed by most of it. I realize it may be nothing more than a way to boost my self-confidence, but I admit, there will always be part of me who thinks furries are a bunch of weirdos (granting they’ve been misunderstood and maligned).  

While I’m not one who believes an author should edit his or her work to avoid offending furries and non-furries alike, I am one who also believes lack of said editing does have consequences. One consequence may be shitty writing. Another may be shitty hyooman-hood (hyooman n.: a [furry’s] dismissive term for “human”).

Despite consistent failure, it’s still my goal to avoid both. 

(Not Really.)