Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Wolf

I am of the habit of retelling stories. Some tales are too funny and perfect not to share again and again. Now while I am certain that I have probably told this tale to some of you before, I promised someone that I would sit down and commit the tale to electronic paper and share it with all of you.

In 2004 we made our first trip to the Folsom Street Fair. At the time this would be the largest event in the company’s history, it most definitely was not the last. It would also mark the turning point for it as well. From that point on things went from busy to insane. From a guy working out of his garage with some help from his friends to where we are now. This event lit the fuse on the rocket ride that has been the last 2 years of my life. But this, this is not a tale of that ride; rather this is but a moment that took place at said event.

For those who have yet to experience Folsom St on the last Sunday in September, well then you will just have to close your eyes and imagine a world where anything is possible. If you can eroticize it, then honey put it one and parade it about! Drag queens, leather men, hippies, furries, modern primitives, nudists, pony girls with carts and half naked tourists by the tens of thousands take over a few square blocks of downtown San Francisco for the day. While I’m certain that every conceivable fetish paraded past our booth that afternoon, one that still kicks my ass is the wolf.

It was late in the day and the swirl of people, seemed like it would never end. The flow of bodies past our small both felt like a living sea of sweat and leather. The sea however parted for the beast. Lead along on a chain by a woman, the beast wore a complete suit of leather armor. Not armor in the traditional sense. No, this was layers upon layers of finely crafted black leather that molded to its once human form that transformed it from an up right man into a hulking wolf. So complete was this costume that the only remnant of the human that lurked underneath were the eyes, kind and gentle, peering out from within the leather that muzzle that covered its face.

Lumbering up to the booth, it sniffed and pointed said muzzle at us, friendly yet cautious. We responded with a chorus of “oohhs” and “ahhs” at the intricate and obviously difficult costume. (Keep in mind dear readers, the temperature was pushing into the 90’s by now and he was under easily 50-60 pounds of black leather, being former armor wearing types ourselves we were very impressed.) Cocking its head to one side in recognition, the beast gave out a playful “ Woof!” to which we all responded with playful laughter in response.

Obviously enjoying the response, it trotted up to the booth and barked again. Being the closest, I offered an upturned hand to the creature. I guess I must have smelled ok, because the next thing I know the beast is pushing it’s leather muzzle against my shoulder and making those happy yet pleading sounds all dogs make when they want to be pet. The rest of the gang take turns feeding “treats” to the beast as I do my best to scratch the creature behind its ears and praise it.

Just before turning to leave, the beast’s handler asks me, “Can you howl?”
“Like at the moon? Sure, I grew up on a farm” I respond
“He would love that”

Squaring my shoulders and drawing in a huge breath, I let out a long and loud howl. Now the site of one man howling on Folsom street might seem strange, however no sooner had I finished my howl when the rest of the crew started howling in unison. The beast reared it’s leather head back and let out a joyful howl in response. Onlookers who had watched the event started howling as well. We howled louder and louder till for just a moment it felt like the whole world, or at least our tiny corner of it, all raised their heads in unison and joined together in one lupine song.

And then, just as quickly as it began it was over. The beast was swept back into the shifting sea of bodies and was gone.

We looked for the beast when we returned the next year in hopes of re-creating that moment. But as is the case with moments, the best ones are never to be repeated.