Our ability to improvise in pursuit of money is rather staggering.
People with an alert mind and extraordinary vision find ways and means to establish businesses that defy logic, yet can turn out to be commercially successful.
Who would have thought that to provide a cuddling service to members of the public would be a viable proposition in an age when sexual freedom is no longer frowned upon and will therefore make such a business incredibly hard to launch in credence terms?
Although it is early days to predict as to whether such a venture will survive in the long term, a professional cuddler has opened a shop selling hugs to comfort lonely Americans on a high street tucked between a hardware store and an art gallery.
Samantha Hess, and her staff of three, offer human contact for a dollar a minute. Hugs can last from fifteen minutes up to five hours, which costs $300.
‘Most people do sixty minutes,’ said Ms Hess, a former personal trainer. She had been meeting clients for what she calls ‘huddles’ in their homes or in cinemas before she had taken a lease on a shop in the centre of Portland, Oregon.
Cuddle Enterprises, which organise ‘cuddle parties’ or offer home visits, have existed in America for a decade, but attempts to open shops have proved difficult. A cuddle house in Wisconsin was shut down amid fears that it constituted a brothel.
Ms Hess, thirty, said she has received hate mail but police, after inspecting her premises and examining the rules she imposes – and the security cameras in each of the four cuddling rooms – have no concerns. ‘People ask if it was prostitution,’ said Peter Simpson, a police spokesman, ‘but it’s just cuddling.’
Jason O’Brien, who is making a documentary about the industry, found many clients were elderly people who had lost a spouse. ‘Everyone gets this salacious idea in their heads but this can have therapy benefits,’ he said.
Perhaps so, but I’m not convinced that it does not also have any sexual implications. Cuddles have a sensual effect that might lead to heightened sexual impulses, which may cause frustration that counteracts any health benefits. Arousal is a human reaction and, if not fulfilled, is the cause of many of our ills today. Adding to it in the form of cuddling is not the best way to comfort the loneliness of the elderly.
To cut to the quick, let sleeping dogs lie, for fear they will awake and bite you.