Sometime after Scooter Scutaro had his first chinstrap mishap and before he regretted wearing a thong, he concluded that the furry lifestyle has its limitations. He experienced a lucid flash of insight that made him realize something essential about human nature, but just as he was about to reflect upon it, someone flung a cup of Dr. Pepper at him and his epiphany vanished as sugary fizz dribbled through the mesh mouth that served as both his only air source and his sole view to the outside world. What was it about a molded plastic camel that made people want to pelt its humps?
But then, dear God no, the field house filled with who let the dogs out (woof, woof, woof, woof)! and someone was shoving Scooter toward the pulsating lights and unsteady pyramid of cheerleaders. Sleeping in a microwave during August in the Everglades would have been cool compared to the sauna trapped inside his suit. If he had peed himself, he wouldn’t have been able to tell. Scooter gyrated his humps spasmodically, like he was trying to put a fire out with his ass. The crowd went wild, roaring camera flashes and dog whistles.
It had started out so innocently.
Furries are people who like to dress up in animal costumes. Not all furries are plushies, who like cuddly toys, sometimes specially adapted for pleasure, like the unicorn with the miracle horn, or the teddy who can hardly bear it, but most plushophiles are furries. Dirty furverts. Like the ones at a Fur Convention yiffing in a huge collective pile until their fur is matted with spooge and they have transcended their individual selves to lounge in an upper echelon of enlightened post-bodily awareness.
Scooter, only son of Vespa Scutaro, famed condiment collector of Staten Island, happened to be a furry and a plushy, but generally didn’t go in for anything more than your usual petting, hugging and skritching. Just light scratching and grooming. Like you might do with your friends at a social gathering.
So when he answered the ad looking for “an energetic keeper of the spirit stick” who got to wear a hirsute camel suit, he had thought it would be the perfect opportunity to meet some new furry friends.
After days of tingly anticipation for the first game, Scooter jammed his body into the vacuum formed ABS plastic head of a grinning camel and pranced out in front of a gymnasium full of rabid Division III basketball fans chanting “Airball! Airball” in unison every few possessions.
Scooter was bummed.
Not a single furogenous zone to tickle, no one to give his humps a proper rubdown. What good was wearing oversize leathery kneepads, if he couldn’t spend the afternoon kneeling? But no, he was required to dance on command during the timeouts, working up such lather that his whole celery stalk body would grow sodden before he could take a breath.
Then he glimpsed the lovely furry grizzly, the divine visiting mascot. She had oversize bear paws and foam in all the right places. He saw his chance and busted a move, slaloming his way towards her, oversized head swaying, cloven hoofs thumping, damp fingers desperately working the furry paws to push aside the popcorn vendors and little girls squealing to high-five him. Away, trollops! He stiff-armed them aside mercilessly, his Bactrian body undulating, his vision blurred with high fructose corn syrup, until he arrived at the she-bear’s side, primed for action.
She wiggled; he waggled. She raised the roof; he picked strawberries. She roared; he reared up and went for it, grabbing at her haunches like the Alpha Furry. He had never felt more yiffy, ripe and ready for some hot fur-on-fur friction. He had bonded with frogs and ferrets, Hello Kitties and Smurfettes, but never a grizzly, never in front of so many cheering fans egging him on. In harried lust he thrust and parried, flounced and pounced, feeling the synthetic fibers on his body vibrate with keen purpose. Yes! Oh yes! Oh sweet mother of Minnie Mouse!
Scooter was in thrall, about to unleash the beast, when his legs were swept out from under him and he crashed, humps-first, to the bottom of the bleachers. Two burly security guards pinned him to the hardwood. He looked back at his mascot mate, her paw clawing the air in a sad but lascivious farewell. This, Scooter realized while dragged kicking from the arena, had to be true love.
Ravi Shankar is founding editor of Drunken Boat, and teaches for the New York Writers Workshop. He has published or edited 10 books and chapbooks of poetry. Along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, he edited W.W. Norton’s Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond. He has won a Pushcart Prize, been featured in The New York Times and The Paris Review, appeared as a commentator on the BBC, the PBS Newshour and NPR, received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Corporation of Yaddo, and has performed his work around the world.