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  • Writer's pictureJason Simms

Meet the Phluffles--a COVID fever dream creature emanated from--well, I don't really know what.

Updated: Feb 28

It all started with conference calls.

A gif model photos for Love's Labour's Lost set in an outdoor park.
An over-embellished model photo for Love's Labour's Lost

In the late winter of 2019, I spent an unprecedented amount of time speaking to strangers through my not-so-magic telecommunication box while designing the set for St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST.

panoramic model photo for Love's Labour's Lost
A panoramic model photo for Love's Labour's Lost

The hours spent in my tiny Brooklyn studio doodling whilst listening effectively tangled my subconscious and digits in an unexpected collaboration. I kept drawing these unusual, yet familiar creatures as if they had lived for eons deep within the catacombs of my mind...perhaps being displaced by less convenient thoughts.

A doodle of a monster dog thing.
If you know the name of this creature, please tell me what it is.

As these doodles transgressively grew in numbers, my attachment to them lessened. Carelessly pushing creative ink around on old bill envelopes and tax documents could not find harmony with my on-again-off-again tidying tendencies. One wonders how many of these strange creatures found themselves moving aimlessly on a conveyor looking up at the environs of a recycling plant. Alas, the two depicted here are all that remain from the era of conference call doodleship. Found face down wedged between my air plant drying rack and melamine desktop, I briskly snapped photos of them...and promptly misplaced them. Filling the voids eroded by my self-involved insecurities on Instagram took priority over respectable archiving practices.

A doodle of a Phluffle.
The first image of a Phluffle.

The essence and forms of these cryptids uncomfortably intersects at familial and foreboding--playfully charming yet non-deserving of trust. One must assume that underneath the colorful supple fuzz lies the potential for violence, greed, and other catastrophic misgivings inescapable from the realities of biology. It wouldn't be until four years later that all of this would be proven to be true.

A COVID fever dream resurrects the forgotten.

Like most people these days, I had a brief physiological relationship with COVID-19. With the exception of an apocalyptic fever-induced nightmare, I fared well against the vicious spike proteins attached to the spherically symmetric microscopic monsters clinging to my tissues. I woke up comforted to realize that my second floor bedroom was in fact not flooding due to a global unexpected climate cataclysm. As I reconciled my reality with my fear, I was simultaneously unable to dispel the creatures of long ago from my mind's eye. Lacking good explanation, all I could think about was these supercilious specimens.

With the realities of a "recommended" quarantine coalescing against the backdrop of a coming winter break, its was clear what needed to be done. These figments had yet met their full potential. By days end following my hallucinatory phantasms, my hand and mind brought a solitarily created exquisite corpse back to life.

In the days following, like Dr. Frankenstein-Seuss, my thoughts were consumed with nothing but understanding this subconscious cryptozoological regurgitation fledging from my cranium and flanges. I did what any lucid imaginative person would do, I became helplessly obsessed...

What do they look like?

a Phluffle blinks

Where do they live?

What do they eat?

Do they have pastimes?

Most of these queries were surprisingly effortlessly resolved with the exception of one: "What are they called?" After some thought, I again engaged my insecurities and beseeched my Instagram followers for aid in this taxonomic quest; these obscurities were thereby dubbed "The Phluffles of Phloob".

Pretty soon a narraative emerge in the form of a 45 second animated short:

I recognize that after absorbing this blog post you are likely to meet me with disbelief as I state my obsession with these fluffy fauna is waning--and honestly it is difficult to tell what may or may not me next for the Phluffles--but in this precise moment, I will attempt to reclaim the lost hours of sleep drained from me by these succubi of the mind.

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