In a Strange Land: Anthrocon

By: Jason Waddell

The summer of 2006 was my first summer living away from home. I had taken an internship at a Carnegie Mellon engineering lab, and lived in a ratty sublet house with three friends just off-campus. Aside from working a scant 24 hours a week in the lab, I spent my days exploring Pittsburgh, playing Super Smash Bros. Melee with my roomates and consuming endless gifs of Zidane headbutting Materazzi in  what must have been the most remixed footage since Star Wars Kid.

Very few of our university’s students were Pittsburgh natives, and the area surrounding campus was a bit of a ghost-town during the summer. I eagerly sought out any and all diversions, and found one in the form of a flier advertising an upcoming Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament.

Sunday, June 18th, 3:00, Anthrocon.

I relished the idea of live competition. While working at Major League Gaming I had battled with the best in the world, but always from the comfort of a hotel room, never on the tournament stage. We redoubled our practice efforts, excited to put our best foot forward.

Tournament day rolled around, and I rode in a friend’s car to downtown Pittsburgh. We parked towards the Strip District, and walked past the Westin Hotel on our way to the Convention Center. A group of strangely costumed people loitered in front of the hotel. It was my first convention, and as far as I knew cosplay was par the course for these sorts of events.

We enter the convention center, which was strangely cavernous and vacant. Bustling sounds can be heard, but the halls are virtually empty. It was the last day of the convention, and most of the festivities appeared to have died down. We make our way to the door of the room advertised on the flier.

We had trained for weeks, but simply were not prepared for what was waiting for us on the other side of the door.


The room was packed wall to wall with furries. I felt like a Hitchcock protagonist. Had I missed some obvious clues? What life choices has led me to, inadvertently or not, attend a furry convention? My mind swirled. Did I misread the sign? Could this all have been avoided if I had taken a second year of Latin in high school? Worse yet, I had dragged two friends into this mess. Did they think I knew?

A squirrel suit directed us to a sign-in sheet. The sheet had three columns:

Name, Animal, Anthrocon Badge Number

I hesitated, but my friend Johnny forged ahead.

Johnny, Duck, 608271

We of course had no badge numbers, but Johnny hadn’t driven all this way for nothing. I scribbled down an animal and random 6-digit ID number and sat down beside him. We turned our attention to a TV where 4 players were warming up. It was a free-for-all, between Kirby, Jigglypuff, Pikachu and Pichu. Naturally none of them had selected a human character. On the next TV were 4 Yoshis, endlessly swallowing and excreting each other. ssbm-yoshi3

In the face of overwhelming evidence, Johnny was forced to concede that this was not, in fact, the tournament for us. We drove home a little dismayed, and a little bewildered.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you should learn your Latin roots. You never know when they might help you avoid attending the world’s largest furry convention.

Anthrocon: “Fur, Fun, and So Much More”


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