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Talking to Strangers: Furry Convention
"It’s really weird and intimidating to talk to someone though a wolf mask." "Of course it is. That is the appeal."
BY NICK KEPPLER
Last week, the 16th annual Anthrocon, the world’s largest gathering of furries, was held in Pittsburgh.
How big a part of your life is the whole furry culture?
A very small amount because I am still very new to the game.
How did you become interested?
This creature right here [points to someone]. We’ve known each other for about four years now. That’s how I was introduced to it to begin with. I had no idea what it was until it was explained to me. The sighting came first and then the explanation.
What do you mean “the sighting?”
I was hanging out with him and his roommate at their house and this was one of the first few times I was hanging out with them, and he just came out wearing these enormous orange feet and I thought they were kind of interesting-looking slipper things. I’m like, “Where did you get those?” and he’s like, “Wait, wait, there’s more!” and he came back decked out in full orange fox suit costume and I was like, “So, were you a mascot in college and this is like a memento or what? What is this?” That’s when the explanation came.
What was the worst date you’ve ever been on?
It was a guy who met me at my work, when I was working at Express. The guy walked in, asked me out and I said OK. We met at a coffee shop. He was a half an hour late and apparently had no idea what your standard latte from Starbucks was, so I had to explain to him all the different flavor types. The whole time I felt like he was just analyzing me but not really listening to anything I was saying. I started looking around thinking, “How do I get out of here?” because I could talk to the wall and it would react with just as much interest as this guy. I think he was just hanging out with me and hoping I’d shut up and go home with him. I started telling particular stories to freak him out. I told him about my one and only experience at a night fetish club, which a girlfriend invited me to.
Tell me about how you found yourself in a fetish club.
I have a girlfriend I have known for ever and ever and ever. She’s always been a punky goth girl. That wasn’t our common point of interest; that was just how she acted, but she‘s a sweetheart. At one point she was like, “You have to go to this club with me. I’m a member,” and I said, “Sure, I’ll try it out. Just don‘t expect me to do anything crazy. I just want to go in and check it out.” It was OK. It was different. It was even different for an experience clubbing. It looks a vampire coven when you walk in. It’s very dark. There are little white candles on the tables. There is a room with an X on the door with a swing in there. I just stayed out of that room.
And you thought this would repel this guy? Because I would think if he was just looking for sex, he’d think, “Oh, this girl has been to a fetish club; my chances are better!”
He was an awkward panda, so no. It made him say, “Oh, look at the time; I should be going,” and I was like, “Buh-bye, get going.”
So based on your experience, should people avoid hitting on someone while they were working on the job?
Because I get blushy and shy when people hit on me, I didn’t know to handle that, other than to say, “No, thank you.” I’ve gotten numbers a couple times while at work and other than the one I haven‘t taken any up on those.
Has anyone ever told you something inappropriate?
Oh, god yeah! I had a group of males come up to me when I was working and they were like, “What’s going on, girl?” and I was like, “Um, I’m folding clothes. Can I help you with anything?” It ended up with, “So, listen I would like to get your number so maybe we could hook up sometime. Maybe you want to hook up or if you have a girlfriend with low self-esteem or low confidence.”
That was the wording?
That was the wording. I looked at him like I was probably going to smack his face clear off. I was like, “If I did, I would not let her ten feet in front of you, pal.”