As far as topics go, I think this is one of the toughest gauntlets that’s been thrown down here at the Grip for a while. Charlotte has asked each of us for our ‘Kinky limits: the deviations that are too squick for us to include in our fiction.’
Like others have said this week, my squick factor has a fairly high threshold. If it’s not illegal then I’m happy to write about it. However, the one subject I’ve never chosen to write about is Furries.
I’ll explain now why this pushes my squick buttons. (NB – I don’t ordinarily use the word ‘squick’ but it’s Charlotte’s word and I think it’s fitting for the milieu of this subject. Also, I’m beginning to see that Charlotte likes words beginning with a ‘squ-‘ sound. For further information, please see her previous choice of topic when she asked what made us ‘squee.’)
I am not a tactile person. This is possibly an understatement. I am possibly the antithesis of a tactile person. If someone places an avuncular hand on my shoulder, I have to quash the urge to snap their fingers. If someone embraces me so they can talk to me more intimately, I have to quell the urge to rip their arm from the socket and beat them with the soggy end. Touch my hand whilst we’re dining together, I’ll be thinking of stabbing you with my fork. I am not a tactile person.
I can tolerate holding hands with my wife. I can allow a manly embrace from my son when the occasion merits such an exchange. But, when people who are neither my wife nor my son decide that they need to enhance our conversation with physical contact, my knuckles turn white and you can hear the splintering of enamel as I clench my teeth and grind them slowly together.
To be honest, I try not to let people know about my aversion to physical contact. I’ve practiced the smile of someone who appreciates a clammy hand on my formerly clean forearm. I’ve perfected the untroubled air of a man who yearns to have his palms and shoulders touched by sweaty strangers. I could seriously be awarded an Oscar for my performance in the life-drama ‘The Man Who Didn’t Care About Catching Germs From That Dirty Bastard.’
But, some of you might be asking, what has this got to do with Furries? Others might be asking: what the hell are Furries? This article from the BBC should answer that second question: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8355287.stm. For those who couldn’t be bothered following the link: Furries are a community of people who share the practice of adopting anthropomorphic personae. Sometimes, most often online, this is done purely through the imagination. More popularly, and particularly at community gatherings of Furries, it’s done by dressing in plush animal costumes, or at the very least, wearing a tail.
My response to the first question (What’s this got to do with Furries?) comes with the understanding that Furries are perceived as a tactile community. According to the BBC article listed above, the Furries Community is not all about sex – that’s a media exaggeration designed to tabloid-titillate easily entertained readers. However, dressing in furry costumes, petting, stroking, skritching and touching, do lead me to believe that the whole experience would be more tactile than I could tolerate.
Of course, writing about Furries would have its own set of writerly squicks that I wouldn’t dare approach. For one: I’ve never been to a gathering of Furries, so I wouldn’t be able to write the scene with any authority. For another: Furries have their own domain of language and it would take too long to translate the concept of Fursonas or Yiff to a readership not already immersed in the culture. But, most importantly: it’s all about touching and stroking and a level of tactile involvement that I really don’t want to dwell on.
So, in summary: my personal squick is Furries because I have some serious intimacy issues. I hope I haven’t offended any Furries who might have stumbled on this blog. I respect your right to the culture of your choice. And, more importantly, I hope no one wants to give me a pat on the back after reading this blog. Trust me: it won’t be appreciated.