Ancient cultures seemed to have a thing for animal hybrids. Among the gods worshipped by ancient civilizations are such varied deities as Thor, Dagon, and Kali, who was blue, had six arms, and carried severed heads everywhere. But whatever its pantheon, each ancient culture seems to have at least one god that looks like a fusion of two animals. The ancient Indians worshipped Ganesh, the elephant-human god. The Egyptians of ancient times worshipped Ra, who was half-falcon and half-man. And the children of 1990s America worshipped Furby, the grotesque, hairy bird creature.
For those of you lucky souls unfamiliar with it, the Furby was a toy fad during the nineties. It was a robotic, talking bird creature with soft, deceiving fur covering its cold plastic shell and huge eyes that stared deep into your soul. If provoked, it would move its mouth and say cute phrases like “I love you” or “Can I have a hug?”
It sounds innocent enough, I know. But for anyone who housed a furby, the bizarre plaything slowly morphed from harmless plaything to feared idol.
The big problem with furbies was that you had no control over them whatsoever. For the most part, you expect toys to respond directly to your input; if you push forward on the remote’s lever, your RC car moves forward. But furbies moved and spoke in response to noise. So whenever it heard any sound, whether it was little Billy playing pretend or mom bumping into the table, the furby would feel the need to chime in by saying “I love sunshine” or “Who dares to profane my holy sanctum?”
Furbies had no off switch. They only “went to sleep” when they detected absolutely no noise. You were never sure whether your furby was watching or listening to you. For all you knew, the Great Furby was all-seeing, all-knowing.
The only reliable way to get a furby to shut off was to lock it inside a dark room. It would shut down and all would be well…until someone decided to enter the room. The first thing you’d see after you opened the door and turned on the light switch was a pair of huge, hellish eyes staring back at you. And then, in a voice that reminded you of a drug-addled Big Bird, the furby would speak. It may have said “good morning,” but you knew it meant “Foolish mortal! You cannot escape my judgment! Now bow before me, lest I consume thee with holy fire!”
And so the people of the ‘90s lived in fear of their dark god, the Furby. I know many who would try in vain to appease their furby by buying more furbies, performing ritualistic Furby dances while wearing their fur-covered robes, and even sacrificing Tickle Me Elmo dolls on altars made of play-doh. As a Furby heretic, I lived in constant fear. I’ll never forget the sting of terror that would run up my spine every time I heard a furby’s evil bellow.
Times have changed and, at long last, the reign of the Furby is over. Gone are the days of the Furby cult, but remnants of its power remain. If you look hard enough, you can still find furbies buried in basements and tucked away in closets, gathering dust and remembering their bygone days of glory. And though their followers now are few, their eyes are no less mesmerizingly-evil.