I’m unzipping my pants when it really sets in that I’m about to have sex with a furry. The man I’ve met on a furry dating site stands in front of me adjusting the Velcro on the crotch of his fur suit. He’s dressed in what looks like a Mickey Mouse costume except softer, like one of those giant stuffed animals won at a carnival. I studied biology in college, but I can’t recognize what animal he’s supposed to be. I think some sort of gazelle, but the fur is purple, so it could actually be a fantasy animal like a kirin or one of those unicorns that have psychic powers.
“I’m going to do your back first,” he says and has me lie on the massage table. He removes his paws or hooves and struggles to pour oil onto his human hands without getting any on his suit. His studio apartment is freezing and all I can think about is draping his animal body over me. The suit even has the smell of fur, a mixture of BO and steamed rice.
For my part, I’m dressed-up in a fluffy tail that represents a Siberian tiger, a t-shirt with a tiger face on the front, and my baby blue boxer-briefs, which have nothing to do with tigers. I’m just a beginner. If I knew when I started exploring the furry scene that I’d be here two hours later, I would’ve at least bought white mittens beforehand, like I’ve seen on the internet. All I had in the apartment was one tarnished gardening glove under the sink, and when I put it on I looked like a Disney Afternoon cartoon parody of Thriller era Michael Jackson.
“Remove your shirt,” he says, and then reassures me with, “I won’t bite.” I don’t have a response that involves an animal-based pun, but I’m trying. I slip out of my shirt, and the hair on my neck rises when the oil touches my back.
“How’s that feel, Toby?” he says in a Barry White deep voice, obviously not his voice, his fursona’s voice. Toby is my fursona name. Toby the tiger—I thought that was pretty clever. Fursona is like the inner spirit animal they talk about in yoga class, but is enhanced in that you are the spirit animal. He rubs the back of my shoulders, the oil heating with friction from the opposable thumbs he shouldn’t have.
“It feels puurrrrfffect.”
As he makes his way over my shoulder blades, I think about how I ended up in half a furry costume whispering animal noises to a complete stranger. The short answer is that I have begun my second act. You know, the second part of your life. The thing parents say to you when you’re thirty-two and still working at In-N-Out Burger—“don’t worry son, you still have your second act!” But my second act isn’t as interesting as having arrested development and playing Call of Duty in my parents’ basement.
My second act began when the partner of my life, the man I graduated college with, the man I got my first real apartment with—the one with the dishwasher and laundry—left me for another man. My second act began when the man who taught me how good a tongue feels between my toes, the man who stayed overnight on our first date telling me “I’ve been waiting for you all my life”—appeared at the bathroom doorway ten years later and said instead, “I don’t even know who you are anymore.” My second act began when the love of my life left just one of his work shirts when he moved out, and I wear it, even though it’s two sizes too big and has a coffee stain on the cuff. It smells like him, not the cologne he wears, but the thin smell of his skin, of his life—faint, but enough. That’s the kind of second act I’m in.
“A little harder,” I say to my playmate. “I want to feel some pain.” It sounds awkward as it echoes off the unpainted walls. It sounds like porn which eases my shoulders so that they rest on the table. For a moment I think I’ve chosen wisely by trying out this furry thing. That my desires to be with someone decked out in soft fur, something warmer than my lonely body, is the perfect remedy, the safe haven where only pleasure is allowed. For a moment, there’s total relaxation, and my jaw slackens, a bit of drool slips out, and a soft grunt escapes my lips. I’ve finally found something I can enjoy again.
At least until he starts punching my spine. I wonder if I’m being a bad playmate with this stranger. I wonder if being new to the scene is making me selfish and naïve and only concerned about my own orgasm. So I moan out his name. “Ooohhhh.” But I don’t even know his name, so I stop moaning. He moves to my side and lights four small candles on a table in front of me, like a birthday cake.
My ex never forgot my birthday. He planned it months in advance, and took the day off to clean the apartment and get me little gifts—a chocolate truffle, movie tickets, some sexy underwear—like the twelve days of Christmas. On my last birthday, I’d gotten an email from my ex. I was so surprised I couldn’t open it until lunch. It didn’t say happy birthday or, as I’d hoped, I miss you. Instead he asked me to repay the security deposit.
“You need to get out of your headspace,” my furmate says. The kneading of his fingers is intense now like the weight of a steaming iron as it smoothes out a twisted bed sheet. The kneading hits something, like a bruise, or a pimple, or cancer. I imagine him continuing to rub this spot. He’ll say “I feel tension here” or “this is the center of all your pain.” I’ll think back to when I returned to an empty apartment with a pile of keys on the table, a plastic cup flipped in the sink, a single stray button. I’ll say “yes” to my furmate and the pain will cause my eyes to well with tears, an obvious metaphor for the disintegration of, not just my relationship, but my life. Then he’ll press down hard on the tumor, I’ll beg him to press down harder, until there’s a sharp pop and we share a long sensual howl.
But it doesn’t happen. He passes over it a second time and then moves on to my ass. He asks me to lower my underwear and slaps my rump. And then he pauses. I feel his breath on my ear and he says, “I’m going to do your thighs now. Lift up your tail for me. Let yourself go.”
And I really do try. I growl and grind my thighs against his polyester covered chest, hoping to create a static charge that flashes through us both and sets off wild orgasmic ecstasy. He thrusts back giving me everything he has to offer. But the shock never comes. My arms give out from under me and my voice breaks into a whimper.
About the Author: Chad Koch is a founding editor of Foglifter, a queer literary journal. He recently received his MFA from San Francisco State University, where he was editor-in-chief of Fourteen Hills. He’s the recipient of the Leo Litwak fiction award from Transfer Magazine. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Transfer Magazine, Sparkle & Blink, The North American Review, The Madison Review and Eleven Eleven Journal.