This is a story about me, and what it was that broke me out of the shell in which I used to hide. You see, there was a time when I wouldn't dare mention the concept of being furry to anyone outside of the fandom. Now the only reason I would avoid mentioning it is because it isn't immediately important. What happened, exactly, and when exactly did this change take place?
It was my second time at Anthrocon, and after my first year's experience, I wanted to get things moving right from the start. I didn't have too much memorabilia from my first year, so I didn't look much like a furry on my first day. Determined to change this, I went hunting for a tail to match my fursona on the first day.
I was disappointed for the first day. Between the ubiquitous fox tails, competing cat tails, and numerous rainbow-colored tails of all descriptions, I had no success in my search for a wolf tail that matched my style.
The second day started much the same; I searched throughout the Dealer's Den for someone who was selling the kind of tail I wanted. Finally, I found a new table that had opened sometime during the day. Their tails were significantly more varied than those that were being sold elsewhere, and one of the tails was the perfect color for me. It was long and fluffy, a light brown on top with a white bottom.
"How much is that tail?" I asked the dealer, pointing to the one I had spotted.
He gave me the price and took it down from the rack so I could see it closer. "This is one of our better tails," he told me. "And all of our tails squeak when you squeeze them." He demonstrated, then handed me the tail so I could look it over.
Now, I have no problem with furs who go around with squeaking tails, noses, or even entire suits, but it wasn't exactly my style, as I tend to be just a bit more restrained. Still, the tail was perfect, and there was no outward indication that it would squeak, so I decided to purchase it. Before long, I was walking about the convention center, wearing my tail proudly.
The fact that it squeaked was rapidly forgotten as I managed to learn how to work with it rather quickly. Sitting was an interesting exercise, but certainly did not cause too many complications. At any rate, wearing the tail was a bit of novelty, and I was enjoying every minute of it. All the while, no one who saw me wearing the tail suspected it of being anything more than a cool looking tail. I was quite pleased with it, and never thought twice about wearing it to the con on the third day.
It wasn't until I went to lunch that anything noteworthy happened. I was standing in line to order my lunch, when I felt a tug from behind and heard a squeak from my tail. I turned to see a border collie fursuiter behind me, acting embarrassed as he hid his face behind large, cartoony paws. I grinned. While I had not intended for anyone to find out about it, I wasn't about to spoil the fun. I tapped him on the shoulder, causing him to peek between his fingers at me. I held my arms wide, and he gave me a hug with little hesitation. My grin remained in place all the way through the line, and I waved to the suiter as I took my food to my table.
As I sat down, I easily move my tail out of the way without even using my hands. I was starting to get used to having a tail, and was feeling quite accomplished for it. As I considered this, I felt my tail swinging back and forth. I looked back, expecting to see another fur batting at it, but was surprised to see it moving of its own accord. I jumped up, forgetting my food, and walked quickly to the restroom. I found it empty, and so stood in front of the mirror, turning awkwardly so I could see my tail.
The first thing I noticed was that, not only did it still effectively obscure the place where it was strapped to my belt, but the way it sat now made it definite that it could not possibly be attached in that manner. Perhaps it could have been cleverly attached to my jeans, but the fact that it flicked back and forth in response to my thoughts destroyed that idea entirely. It couldn't be; my tail was now a part of me!
It did not take me long to realize that, although it reacted as though it was real, it was still clearly a fake tail. While it had been designed well, it was, perhaps, a bit too perfect to be real, and the fur fibers were still just clever imitations. I gave it a tentative squeeze, and felt a tug at my back, but no sensation from the tail itself. The squeeze also activated the squeaker, and it sounded again, confirming once and for all that it was fake.
As I squeezed, though, I felt a strange warmth around my feet. Looking down, I saw a pair of large, cartoony paws instead of my walking shoes. I lifted each of them, and found as I set them down that I felt again that they were just imitations, with some muffled sensation coming from my real feet. Still, their sudden appearance tipped me off to the cause of the changes. I grabbed my tail, looked in the mirror, and squeezed again.
As the squeak sounded in my ears, the touch of my tail's fur became muffled, and I saw a pair of paw gloves appear from nowhere on my hands. They had only four digits, but my hands fit them perfectly, almost as though my real hands now only possessed four fingers. I waved to myself, and saw the pads on the gloves, designed to my own preferences.
Shock had given away to happiness and curiosity. I gave my tail another squeeze, and the body of my suit appeared from nowhere, suddenly taking the place of my regular clothing. It was designed to match my fursona, with perhaps a bit more of a cartoony appearance than I usually envisioned, but that consideration was hardly an issue with me. I wanted to see the full effect, so I gave my tail several more squeezes in quick succession. Instantaneously, a fursuit head had replaced my own in the mirror. I looked and felt like I was wearing a high-quality cartoon wolf fursuit, except my vision was unhindered, and I didn't feel an uncomfortable amount of heat. I tried to say something, but covered my mouth with large paws when I heard a familiar squeaking noise. Instead of speaking, it sounded as though I had squeezed my tail again, except this came from the mouth of the suit.
It took me a moment to realize that I had expressed my shock in a manner very similar to many fursuiters, by pantomiming a gasp into my paws. Rather than feeling any more shock or surprise, however, I let loose a few quick, squeaking laughs, still accompanying them with a natural pantomime.
I felt great! Being at Anthrocon had already been a great experience, but this was altogether different, an even fuller feeling of happiness than I had ever felt before. I felt much more free, almost as if my change had gotten rid of my usual calm stoicism and replaced it with an almost giddy excitement. I wanted to share this with someone somehow; even if they could not experience the same change, I wanted to share how much I enjoyed it.
I came out of the restroom, waving to everyone that I passed. My food was left on the table as I made my way back to the convention center. Partway there, I ran into a familiar suiter, the same who had squeezed my tail to begin with. I offered him another hug, and he again obliged without hesitation. As we stepped back from it, he grabbed his own tail and squeezed it. As it gave a familiar sort of squeak, he pointed to me. I knew what he meant; he had changed the same way, and wanted to know if I had done the same. I nodded enthusiastically, and he gave his own squeaky laugh.
The two of us spent much of the rest of the con hanging out together, letting people take our pictures, offering free hugs, and generally doing things I never would have been willing to do before I changed. It was as though the suit that I now occupied had also changed my personality to be more happy-go-lucky. It was no dramatic mental change, no animal mind replacing my human one, and nothing that I would have resisted given the chance. I simply felt more free, more alive, than I ever had felt before. The things I was now willing to do were nothing more than the things I wished I could bring myself to do before, but had been too withdrawn to try.
The last two days of the con passed in a blur. Late the first evening, I discovered that squeezing the tail reverted my form back to normal at will, and just as easily changed me into my fully suited form. The knowledge of how to change back was helpful, but rarely used. Only when I slept and at the end of the con did I change back. Just before I left, I exchanged email addresses with my border collie friend, and we both agreed that we had to do it again as soon as possible.
The day after the con, I stood outside of my gate at the airport, waiting for my flight to leave. Exhilaration and happiness had given way to exhaustion and regret for the end of a great con. I had two more hours to wait, and everyone around me looked as exhausted as I felt. I sighed, thinking of ways I could brighten everyone's day, but was still too shy to do anything myself.
A now-familiar tug from behind caused me to turn around and look at the young girl who had curiously pulled on my tail. She couldn't have been more than three years old, and her bright, curious eyes seemed to carry a certainty that my tail was real.
Instead of releasing it as I turned around, the girl hesitated a moment, before giving it another firm tug. This one was strong enough to squeak it, and I felt the sensation of change once more as my body was overtaken by the fantastic costume.
The girl stepped away, wide-eyed as I changed, but no one else noticed me until the change was finished. I squeaked a laugh, and knelt down with my arms held wide for the girl. She hesitated only a moment, then jumped into the hug with a happy giggle.
Two hours seemed like far too short a time now as I went about the gate area, doing what I could to entertain my fellow travelers. By the time the gate had opened for boarding, I had gathered quite a following of children, none of whom could get enough of my antics. As I reverted to my normal form, no one seemed to notice anything wrong with the sudden change, although everyone knew I had been the man in the suit. Several parents thanked me for keeping their rowdy children busy, and even though some grumbled about me being too odd for their liking, I couldn't have been happier.
As far as I'm concerned, if I'm odd, then the problem with the world today is that it isn't odd enough.