Recently, I came across a story about an enterprising woman in New York who charges $60 an hour to cuddle. Yep, it’s true, Jackie Samuels runs a business, The Snuggery, for people who like to snuggle. It’s all nonsexual contact, just people who like to hug and cuddle, and are willing to pay. [caption id="attachment_14073" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The best part? You don't have to pay – people give out hugs for free![/caption] She’s not alone. In Tokyo, just last week, a cuddle café opened its doors for business. (The manager got the idea for it after reading about Jackie.) No sex, here, either, just snuggling, talking, holding hands, you know. But there are extras: $13 gets you a cuddler in a costume like Sailor Moon, for instance. Then I started to think, Why pay for it? And I realized I’m not alone. Olympic gymnast (and heartthrob!) Louis Smith says he would rather take a girl home and spoon rather than sleep with her. Then I came across the Free Hugs Campaign, about a guy who started this movement. Then Sick Puppies uploaded their song “All the Same” along with a video to YouTube to support the campaign. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy just watching it. [HTML1] And now, all around the world people get together holding up signs that read, “Free Hugs.” If it makes someone feel good and smile – no matter what’s going on in his or her life at that time – then what’s wrong with that? Nothing, according to my friend, Simone, who once gave her friends coupons for free hugs that could be cashed in anytime – with one stipulation. They had to pay it forward. Isn’t that smart! I thought. “I’m not surprised,” Simone said when I told her about people that want to cuddle. “There are lots of people even on dating sites saying that they want just that.” And, she added, “It seems apt, considering people spend more time with technology than with each other sometimes. There's something to be said about a hug or physical contact that you just can’t get from a computer!” She makes a good point. I wish I could give everyone a hug. When I think of all the stuff that happens to us, and how damaged some of us are from things that happen to us, I think sometimes that words are not enough. When someone is bawling because a relationship is over, when someone gets a medical diagnosis that will affect them the rest of their lives, when someone close to you dies, and the words aren't enough, sometimes a hug says a lot more. One of the watershed moments in my life was a hug. My dad, who was very sick in hospital, was never a hugger. It was really hard for him to show emotion toward other people, even those closest to him. When I went to visit him, I asked how he was feeling. “Not so good,” he said. Which was really weird. As he was the kind of person who never wanted us to worry, so for him to say that, I thought, he must be feeling really bad. I didn't know what to say, so I hugged him, and we hugged for a very long time. There were tears, and he died a few weeks after that. But in that honest moment, it was the closest I ever got to my dad, even though no words were spoken. Soooooo, inspired by Simone (and my dad), I am going to hand out coupons for free hugs! It won’t solve the hunger issues in the world, it may not stop a war from happening and it may not stamp out injustice and all the horrible things that can happen to us. But maybe it will make someone feel a little bit better and give them a little hope, like everything’s going to be OK. How about you? Have you hugged someone today?