Hi, my name is Bill, and I’m a recovering normie.
Those of you who frequent Boozy Barrister’s blog may have stumbled upon a reference or two to Furries, or as they are generally referred to amongst themselves “the fandom.” Boozy has become somewhat of a furry phenomenon, and as an internet friend of his (that is to say, someone that is more likely to refer to him by pseudonym than by his legal name) I took an interest in seeing what this group of animal enthusiasts was all about.
Sidenote: I tried to think of a cute pet name for Boozy’s followers, but realized I couldn’t do better than “alcoholics”
Now I’m no stranger to fandoms as a general concept. If you’ve ever seen a checklist of things that were popular for 90s kids, you know my life’s story. I’ve collected everything from plastic dinosaurs to Pogs. I still have a binder full of Pokemon cards that doubles as the bulk of my retirement asset portfolio, and I’ve engaged in lightsaber manufacturing at an advanced enough age that I could have legally spent the time and money drinking alcohol.
The one thing that I know about being a fan of something today is that, in order to do it right in this part of the 21st century, you have to do it ironically. Meaning, you have to actually hate the thing.
Take Star Wars for instance. I was a young lad when the prequels came out, and boy was I hyped. I had seen the original movies because my dad had shown them to me, so I was already a fan. Seeing a Star Wars movie in theaters though? I couldn’t wait for it. I sat there in the theater with my hand-made brown Jedi robe that was stitched together by my mom’s friend, with my plastic toy lightsaber and participated in the quasi-religious experience that is the opening night of a SW movie. And, I’ll tell you what, I loved it. I’m pretty sure my first attempt at engineering was figuring out how to fabricate a double-bladed lightsaber out of two regular ones. I loved Darth Maul, seeing Obi-Wan as a buttoned-up padawan was great, and yes, I even liked him (you know who I’m talking about). Now, if you asked me today, I would probably deny that the 95% of Episode 1 that isn’t the duel of the fates scene even exists. “No one hates Star Wars like Star Wars fans do” goes a popular saying that I think more and more is an understatement that applies to the majority of nerd culture today.
Star Wars is just one example now, but in the modern era of sports and entertainment culture, no fandom is safe from vitriol and hate for the very thing it allegedly celebrates, well, almost no fandom…
I attended a furry convention for the first time several months ago. I had lived in the city that it takes place in for my whole life, and had seen and heard about the Furries each year when they came around. The Furries I had met all seemed nice enough, but it wasn’t until I had an opportunity to electronically “meet” Boozy that I had any real interest in attending. Seeing Boozy was cause enough to attend my first furry convention, but from the first moment I stepped in the registration line, I felt more like I was stepping into a family home at Thanksgiving than an international convention. People were waiving to each other, asking each other how their flights and drives were, talking about when they got into town, and updating each other on the major events in their lives, between video game breaks on one type of handheld console or another.
In the concrete jungle of my city, Furries are often out of place, walking around in a full “fursuit” or even in mere tails and ears, they garner glares and chuckles from much the surrounding populace. In the convention, I was the one who looked out of place coming fresh from the office in my suit. Even so, I never felt like I was being stared at or laughed about, even though I definitely looked ridiculous dressed as a lawyer while dodging tails and quietly stepping out of the way of large and acrobatic hugs from convention attendees who were particularly happy to see each other.
First I met Boozy Barrister himself, a gruff yet kind soul who looked ready to introduce himself to a judge with “your Hon-ah I am just a simple country lawyer.” He in person was exactly the man you might expect to meet from being a long-time follower of his: jovial, expressive, and possessed with a certain hard to define characteristic that I can only describe as “drunk uncle.”
Then, I met the badger, and he’s a different story. While possessing the same body, as soon as a young fan approached him, Boozy’s presence shifted as if stuck by lighting. Whereas before he was a Hulk of justice, regaling me with stories in hilarious fashion about ridiculous clients, judges, and situations that he found himself dealing with (while abiding by the ethical rules, of course); now he was the calm, thoughtful, Bruce Banner who had been adopted as Godfather of the fandom. I saw this shift occur enough times to give me whiplash, but rather than being an act that was being put on for the benefit of rubes, I realized that something else was happening. Boozy was becoming the badger, able to put all of the aches and pains that make up life as a lawyer aside to simply enjoy existence with another pers-, er, animal.
During my time as Boozy’s shadow I got to meet some of the great celebrities of furry fandom, individuals who were genuinely happy to be there meeting me and made me genuinely happy by association. In fact, if there was something that wasn’t on display during my time at the convention it was inauthenticity. Fursuiters, other Furries, and whole families walked around the hall and associated spaces, everyone seeming to enjoy themselves, everyone there to take part in an almost ecstatic joy that emanated from the space. I used to think, like many still do, that being a furry was a sex thing. However, like life in general, while sexuality is a part, if that’s the only thing you focus on, you’re missing the point.
On top of the happy, nearly care-free atmosphere of the convention, Furries raise a crazy amount of money for charities each year, often choosing to donate the proceeds from their fundraising to animal shelters and other related charities that often are overlooked for other pressing causes. I was present for no less than three separate events to raise money for the charitable cause of this year’s convention, and was blown away each time with the generosity on display.
Probably the best expression of furry fandom that I came across while at the convention was that fursonas (the in-fandom identity of Furries) are the expression of the “best self” of the person who adopts them, certainly that was my experience. The Furries that I met and talked with at the convention all were being their best, true selves, all while made up with ears, tails, and other related accoutrements. So what if someone wants to dress up like a fox and prance around, sometimes literally? If that makes someone happy, I wish them the best, and boy-howdy do Furries want you to be happy.
That isn’t to say that there isn’t some controversy in the fandom. As you’ve seen on Boozy’s own blog, there are such a thing as “nazi furs” and while controversy is not courted by conventions, even the best of atmospheres has its fair share of drama. After all, I said it was like a family at thanksgiving, not Disneyworld. But these things are truly fringe elements of what is already a rather small group.
So, as I explained to my parents, family, and friends who found out that I went to a furry convention, I’m not a furry, nor would I say that I’m particularly fur-curious. For one, I wouldn’t know what animal to be. I like eagles, but “legal eagle” is such a cliché…maybe I’d be a lion? I don’t know. Honestly, I can’t say that I’ve put much thought into what my hypothetical fursona would be. Who knows, maybe by the time the convention comes back to town I’ll be prancing around with the best of the horses or giggling with a pack of hyenas.
In reality though, I know that I’m not nearly good enough of a person to be promoted to animal.
The year is rapidly winding down, and many of us are feeling blank headed when it comes to gift-giving and what we should get the people we love… or at least the people to whom we are socially obligated to give something around this time. Maybe there are one or more lawyers on your holiday giving list this year, and being not of the world of law and order, you’re not sure what to get them. I assure you, we all have a couple of copies of “100 jokes for lawyers” (probably from a hilarious sibling or cousin) and a wacky tie is going to get worn exactly zero times.
Heck, maybe you are a lawyer and just couldn’t think of a way to bill for browsing Amazon’s online deals (two words for you: telephone depositions). So, let me humbly suggest a few options for things that you can quickly pick up for the lawyer who is, let’s say, ‘fortunate’ enough to have you for a loved one. I tried to think of things in various price ranges, so full disclosure, not all of these are going to be winners. But hey, it’s the end of the year, I’m halfway out the door to my firm’s holiday party, and I’ll be halfway into a carton of egg nog by the time you read this, so I think it’s fair if I phone in this completely fabricated obligation I’ve created for myself.
General Disclaimer: Some of these gifts may only be “last minute” eligible if you spring for expensive shipping, that cost is not factored into these pricing tiers.
Disclaimer to readers outside of the US: These cost ranges are being measured in Freedom Dollars, so adjust accordingly to your godless currencies before making a purchasing decision.
The “Office Secret Santa or college friend you haven’t Seen in a while” Tier (<$50)
Pack of Tide Pens
At the risk of over-sharing, I am a disgusting slob. I also tend to behave in a way that can only be described as “the ‘before’ person in every infomercial who can’t operate in the human world.” Needless to say, these two traits make life in a professional environment difficult. That may make it sound like this gift is really only appropriate for me, but I know I’m not the only one like me out there, I’ve seen the infomercials for the Sham Wow.
Seriously though, everyone needs one of these pens in their office, briefcase, and glove compartment, but nobody ever has one when you spill a tiny bit of ketchup right on your lapel before an important client meeting Ryan…
My Cousin Vinny on Blu-Ray or DVD
My Cousin Vinny is the closest thing to a masterpiece of legal cinema as possible. We all know now that Atticus Finch was a racist, and watching Paul Giamatti’s John Adams feels too much like education to enjoy. Not only is this one of the most true to life legal movies ever made, but Joe Pesci is also every lawyer’s spirit animal. He has multiple bar exam fails and the courtroom demeanor of a bull in a china shop, but still does well for his client despite being a ridiculous and/or contemptable character. You know what they say, art imitates life.
Black’s Law Dictionary
Imagine how you’d feel if someone got you a dictionary, that’s exactly how this works. This gift is great because the recipient will either feel confused or insulted, but will have to pretend they like it or else risk appearing like they’re a rube who doesn’t enjoy knowledge or something. Bonus points if the recipient is sovereign-citizen savvy enough to get it when you say “look up travel.”
The “In-law you got in the family gift swap” Tier ($50-$125)
Decent Bottle of Alcohol
This one is self-explanatory; don’t get anything fruity, this ain’t no 4th of July party.
The standing desk is the gift that says “your butt looks like it’s a little wider than it was last year.” Maybe you recoiled from my admission of being a disgusting slob earlier because you’re a true go-getter. You wake up every morning at 4am and hit the gym before work. Good for you, but you know that a gym membership is a bit too on-the-nose of a gift, right? Get them a standing desk!
It’s fun, it’s professional, it’s trendy, and best of all, you get to flaunt your health and fitness superiority when they open it, by loudly declaring: “sitting is the new smoking, you know.” Who cares if that phrase is so old and tired that Family Guy already riffed on it, you’re not here to spread joy, you’re here to ask the host to warm up your gluten free gravy and flex in the figurative and literal meanings of the word.
1-year subscription to LawyerSmack
In a controversial and highly debated move, longtime “blawger” and all around decent fellow Keith Lee decided that his LawyerSmack group had gotten to large and too unwieldy to be a neat little side project anymore. It was obviously a place that people enjoyed, and represented something of value to many, and he was pouring plenty of time and energy into providing content, forging links between users, and moderating on top of that. It was little surprise to those of us who are active, then, that he decided that he would charge a membership fee to be a part of his burgeoning community. While some have balked at the idea of a “paid chatroom,” others have decided that the cost is not prohibitive, and in recognition of the work put into the community, which is itself larger than the Slack platform it calls home, have willingly paid the fee to participate.
However, not everyone was able to ensure their own survival from the purge of non-paid members that followed. Some have stood on their principle, and are missed occasionally, but are also necessary sacrifices to avoid constant advertisements. Others have said that they would like to remain or return, but that the costs are too prohibitive for them. For those members, and for ones who have yet to even join the group, there is room in LawyerSmack, and we’d love to have them. So this year, why not give the lawyer in your life the gift of a crippling lack of productivity?
The “Relative who got you a really thoughtful wedding gift, so god-as-my-witness Billy, you’d better get them something nice now that you’ve had the merest bit of financial success” Tier (>$125)
At this price tier, you’re almost certainly going to be drawn to art, both originals and prints. But, if this is a gift for a lawyer, you can’t get them anything so pedestrian as to be comprehensible. No, your lawyer giftee deserves only the finest of modern arts. The closer it looks to being compatible with a toddler’s art style the better.
Now, what I just said may make you think that I do not appreciate the fine arts, but nothing could be further from the truth. I love a good art as much as the next guy, and I am perfectly capable of starting at a basketball on a bench and drawing profound meaning from it (so long as I’ve paid the entry fee to a museum for the privilege). So what you’ll want to look for are deep, dark, harsh brush strokes, and colors in the red end of the spectrum to evoke visceral emotions in the viewer. Lawyers need high blood pressure in order to do their jobs more effectively.
On the other hand, if you actually like the person, get them a professional print of the city they work in/near. Law is a very parochial profession, in order to practice in a particular state, you have to seek admission to that state’s bar. This means that Lawyers are often more attached to their particular geographic location than the general population. You know this is true, because just about every law firm website will have a picture of their hometown on it somewhere. Every day I walk into work, I’m greeted by three large prints of my city, with one being of the building I work in. So, if modern art isn’t your thing, find a nicely done professional photo that says “I think you might forget where you live if you’re not exposed to photographic evidence 24/7.”
A Literal Taser
Maybe you’ve seen the commercials on TV talking about a product that claims to solve that ‘2:30 feeling’ problem where you hit a road block after lunch time that slows your productivity. Not too many people outside of lawyers know this, but there’s also a 6:30 feeling, and on occasion, an 11:30 feeling as well. A simple cup of coffee can’t help you in those circumstances, no, you’re beyond that. You’re at a level of tired that can only be solved by one thing: imminent fear of death.
This is where the Taser comes in; simply giving oneself a little jolt to the system should shake him/her out of that tired, restless feeling and get the recipient back to work in a jiffy. Be careful though, you’ll want to caution the recipient against using this gift too many times in a row.
Sleep deprivation is the new smoking, you know.