You're browsing through the personals section of a newspaper or website. Maybe you're looking for someone, or maybe you just look because they're so much fun to read. Anyway, you're browsing and decoding the initials as you go along: SWF (single white female), BDM N/S (black divorced male, nonsmoker), C TV DD-free (Christian transvestite, drug and disease free).
Then you come across a string you can't make heads or tails of. It goes B++,Es,I++,Sp+,>Sf,b,%,p,@,h,#a,F bad bun veg.
You think some computer code accidentally spilled into someone's personal ad and, man, are they going to be pissed if they had to pay for all the extra letters.
Actually, although you most likely will never find it in a newspaper, this is a real personal-ad code, and here's what it means: I always sleep with a plushie (stuffed animal). I have sexual feelings for plushies. I have rich sexual fantasies involving plushies; they live in my mind. Intimacy with my plushies is an important part of my sex life. I haven't had fursuit sex but the idea appeals to me. I like plushies that are: dressed in bondage gear, show signs of sexual use, are puppets and have a strategically placed appendage. I'm a hermaphrodite and my age is none of your business. I've dressed up as a badger, a bunny and a vegetable.
This code comes from a website, FoxWolfie Galen's Plushie Page (www.velocity.net/~galen), which caters to people who have a fascination, sometimes a sexual one, with stuffed animals and also with dressing up as one. "Costumes like this," the site explains, "are often seen at sporting events in the form of team mascots. They are often worn at amusement parks by people who dress up as popular cartoon characters." You may think of it, as most would, as a business gimmick, and then discover that some people just do it for freaky fun.
The fetish was brought to our attention by MTV's "Sex 2K" show, which profiled a guy who really dug dressing up in his giant fox suit. From the website, we can see that it runs the gamut from people who just like their stuffed animals a lot, to people who dress up as animals and get sexual gratification out of it, to people who modify their stuffed toys for sexual use. As it tells us in "The Plush Code" (see above website), "t" means "Talented -- I look for plushies that are boinkable in some way."
The site explains a few other concepts, like Zootaphiles ("someone who loves fursuits. ... Not everyone in a fursuit is a zootaphile. Some may be wearing the fursuit as a job and have no special liking for it"). And Toonophiles ("someone who loves cartoons. ... Toonophiles may, or may not, be sexually aroused by cartoon characters"). And texturephiles ("someone who loves how various textured materials feel. ... Popular textures include fur, vinyl, silk, rubber, polar-fleece, denim, etc.").
What it doesn't explain, or maybe we missed it, is how a fetish like this springs into being. What is it that causes people to have perfectly normal relationships with, say, a stuffed bear, and then one day find themselves gazing at Teddy Ruxpin with the misty, narrowed eyes of unrequited passion? We probably will never know. We do know for sure that not everyone who wears a fursuit for a living is into this kind of thing -- because we live here, after all, and know people who have had jobs like this. But we can't help thinking that Orlando must be an absolute mecca for such activity, as it probably has the highest concentration of fursuit-wearing jobs of any city on the planet.
Another thing we know for sure: We're not picking up a stuffed toy in anyone's house ever again, especially not a Tickle Me Elmo. Not without the fire tongs.