A 'Furry' Tale for a Foxy College Student
Anyone walking through the corridors of OC might notice one of the students has an extra appendage, where normally one would not grow.
OC Student Brian Fallstrom, 19, wears a synthetic foxtail as an accessory to his daily attire.
"I just do it 'cause it's fun, it's a sign that I'm not afraid to be different," said Fallstrom. "It costs less than a piercing or tattoos."
Fallstrom is a returning OC student. He first attended as a Running Start student in the fall of 1998. He graduated from Bremerton High School in the spring of 2000 and then went to Pacific Lutheran University in the fall.
Fallstrom got his tail 18 months ago at a convention called Conifur Northwest. The convention is one of many furry conventions.
Fallstrom said a 'furry' is either a fan of drawing or writing about animals with human characteristics, such as walking on two legs, speaking intelligently, or having opposable thumbs. A 'furry' can also be the animals themselves. These animals are called anthropomorphic animals, although Fallstrom pointed out that the term 'furry' is broader than the dictionary definition of anthropomorphic.
The convention is held for a three-day period in Fife. There are many 'furry' conventions in the United States, according to Fallstrom.
"A furry convention is a place where people who share this common interest can gather and meet each other," said Fallstrom.
Items such as art prints, comic and story collections, plush toys and wearable items are sold at the conventions in a place called the "dealer's den," he said.
Fallstrom wears his tail at all times except while he is in the shower, sleeping, or at a job interview. One time, he remembers, a U.S. Marine recruiter at a PLU career fair said, "You know, son, you should have that (the tail) removed." However, there is no need to resort to any medical procedure. His tail detaches easily from a belt loop.
The reason Fallstrom chose a foxtail while at the convention was it matched his online alter ego Alfador.
Alfador, he explained, is a three-tailed anthropomorphic fox or kitsune that has blue hair and magical powers. A kitsune is a "fox-spirit" that's history is a blending of Japanese and Chinese legends and myths, according to Fallstrom. Alfador's "offical birthday" is May 9, 2000.
Alfador's magic powers change depending on what Fallstrom is doing. For some stories, Fallstrom said he has definite limitations as to what Alfador can do, including illusion, healing and destruction.
"Alfador's magic is neither good nor evil by nature," said Fallstrom. "It is his actions and decisions that determine the quality of his character, just as it is for mortals."
The character of Alfador was made up by Fallstrom. He said he has created an origin story and history for the fox since it was created.
"I'd come up with the idea of an anthropomorphic fox with magic powers, based loosely on the Japanese and Chinese fox-spirit legends, and Alfador became my online alter-ego," said Fallstrom.
He got the name Alfador from the Super Nintendo video game "Chrono Trigger." In the game "Alfador" is the name of one of the character's pet cat.
"Alfador's name is only mentioned once in the entire game," said Fallstrom. "I thought the name was cool, so I used it."
Fallstrom realized he was a furry fan in 2000.
"I've liked anthropomorphic animals since I saw my first Disney movie, but actually finding out about 'furry' fandom, as it is, didn't happen until early 2000," said Fallstrom.
After he bought his tail, Fallstrom decided to try it out on the PLU campus, which he was still attending at the time.
"I found that it was so fun to wear it and have people ask questions about it, that I just didn't want to stop," said Fallstrom. "As I say to people, it makes a great conversation piece, and as my mom says, 'At least it isn't a tattoo or a piercing.'"
Fallstrom once saw a man from France on television who wears a penguin suit everywhere he goes. Fallstrom said he remembers thinking, "I would never go to such great lengths, myself, to be like my character, but I admire his courage to be different."
Fallstrom would like to create a character costume of Alfador, but he said, unlike his tail, he would only wear the costume for conventions or other times he considered appropriate. Fallstrom's tail is made of all synthetic materials and is machine washable. It is not made of real fur.
Fallstrom lives at home with his parents and a 17-year-old brother. He is hoping to attend Harvey Mudd, an engineering college in Claremont, Calif., in the fall. The University of Washington is his second choice.
He is very interested in math. He had completed high school calculus by seventh grade, and as a Running Start student he had taken the math course "Differential Equations" offered by OC by the time he completed grade 12.
Fallstrom looks towards engineering as a career decision.
"In engineering, I could use the advanced math I've been building up for a purpose, rather than simply for its own sake," said Fallstrom.
He is not part of OC's engineering program. He said he is not interested in an associate's degree from OC, but he is planning to transfer in the fall.
Anybody who is interested in learning more about 'furries' can go to www.conifur.org, which is the official Web site of Conifur Northwest. For more information about Alfador and stories and art done by Fallstrom go to www.alfador.8m.com, which is Fallstrom's Web site.
"The Internet is a great way to find people with common interests, not just for furries, but for everybody," said Fallstrom.