By Jack Edwards
I’ve been hugging like a maniac lately. In fact, in the last month alone, I’ve have two people threaten to file restraining orders against me for my serial hugging. But the fear of civil litigation is the least of my worries. After all, this is the cold and flu season. What’s a little litigation expense compared to a 105 degree temperature and the dry heaves for four to seven days?
In case you’re wondering, this is all Jill Daly’s fault. She wrote an article for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explaining that hugging produces a myriad of health benefits. Apparently, hugging can battle heart disease, diabetes, depression and improve one’s immune system. I don’t think I need to remind my regular readers that my own research on this topic began and ended with a cursory review of Ms. Daly’s article while I waited for the caffeine in my morning coffee to fully engage, but in my defense, the article seemed quite complete (it was certainly very long).
Ms. Daly’s hugging article discusses, and I am not making this up (Google it if you don’t believe me) work done at an outfit called the “Touch Research Institute” at the University of Miami. Mind you, southern Florida already has all that great weather, and now they’re getting paid to touch each other. (I’m not so sure this type of research is completely legal in the other 49 states and the Territory of Guam – I assume, just from general observation, that it is perfectly legal, even encouraged, in the District of Columbia). While I urge to you look up the Touch Research Institute, do not, I repeat, Do Not, Google “Hugging Workshops.” First of all, I’m not quite sure how most computer filters work, but if you are going to ignore my advice, I suggest that you crank your filter up to DEFCON 1, before you hit the search key. Yes, there are such things as hugging workshops, and if you ever come across someone who has attended one, and you would like to ask him about the experience, Don’t. Run like your life depended on it. Avoid that person like the plague. Here’s a little insight from someone who has hit the “enter” key on this himself: The word “cuddle” will fill your screen. And no, these not necessarily one-on-one cuddles. Yes, it gets pretty gross, pretty quick.
My research into the health benefits of hugging failed to identify whether the nature and quality of the hug plays a significant role. Perhaps the Touch Research Institute could jump on this. For example, does the length of the hug correlate to the level of health benefit? How about how tightly you hug the other person? Is a two arm hug quantitatively better at reducing your stress? I smell a federal research grant percolating as I type. It appears that Jill Daly and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have plenty more work on their hands. These are important questions about important work that deserves our federal research dollars. In fact, it’s the type of important work that just about any desperate, burned-out congressperson in a tight race and looking to grease a few palms would unquestionably find deserving, and might motivate him to do “the people’s work” of slapping a two million dollar rider onto a soybean subsidy bill to once and for all get to the bottom of these important, lifesaving questions. I think that every American who values health and home would agree that if this research – and the federal money driving it – only saves the life of one single hapless soul (perhaps a small defenseless child – or more likely, one of us pudgy couch potatoes) from a stress related disease, such as watching March Madness, then it would be worth it.
In the meantime, I feel my blood sugar rising from that batch of donut holes I just polished off. I’ve got to go find someone to hug.