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Aw, C'mon ... Give Wolfowitz a Hug

In these times of crises, we all need a good cuddle.

June 27, 2004|Shawn Macomber

Last weekend, for the umpteenth time, I found myself at a party where the conversation turned to life in George W. Bush's America, which, to hear my fellow partygoers tell it, is apparently a mirror image of Nazi Germany. When prodded to contribute my opinion to the mix, I said that I thought our descent into bloodthirsty jackbooted fascism may be a tad exaggerated.

I presented a few standard arguments, but, unfortunately, I persuaded no one. So I turned to my final evidence: the emergence of the "cuddle party."

Not familiar with the cuddle party? What, don't you read GQ, Nerve Online or Time Out New York? Haven't you been listening to the chattering on the dance floor of your favorite chic club recently? The clerk at the natural food store with the directions to all those oh-so-secret raves hasn't dropped this, er, bomb on you yet? Tsk tsk. I feel sorry for you. Honestly, I do. But until I came across the website of self-proclaimed romance coach/sexual war correspondent/serial capitalizer REiD MiHALKO, I myself was unaware that, like most Americans, I was failing to get my "Recommended Daily Allowance of Welcomed Touch." Thus, naturally, I was not empowered with a "sense of self-expression, sexuality, relationship and play."

This doesn't sound like Nazism, does it? Doesn't exactly sound like American society is chasing after the Nietzschean Superhuman. After all, Hitler consolidated his power with the Night of the Long Knives, not the Night of the Pillow Fights.

Now, paying $20 to lie in a room full of pillows, stroking and being stroked by 20 or more strangers might seem a bit trashy, or even desperate, to you. Folks between the ages of 20 and 60 screaming "Puppy pile!" and climbing onto one another might seem like regressive psychotherapy for the unhinged. This, I have learned from reading MiHALKO's manifesto, is the "echoes of our Puritan foundations," which have made today's world "a very scary and unsafe place to voice our sensual needs." I smell John Ashcroft all over that.

Happily, despite the obstacles of repressive American society, the revolution that started in MiHALKO's living room is now spreading like wildfire, comrades. Cuddle parties -- some of them sanctioned by MiHALKO (he's trademarked the "cuddle party" moniker), others off the official cuddle grid -- are springing up everywhere. It's big-city fun for folks in the blue states, and, per usual, the Canadians are thinly veiling their rip-off of the American can-do spirit with halfhearted snuggle parties.

"Our need for touch has gotten so packed down and warped and pressurized that we fear its release," MiHALKO intones on his site. "These years of cuddle oppression have become explosive." The cuddle party is a place for that touch explosion to go off without anyone getting hurt.

There are rules: Ask before you touch or kiss; keep your clothes on; no sex. Arousal is acceptable and expected. I can see MiHALKO's point here, because, despite the supposed nonsexual nature of the cuddle party, I have yet to read a first-person account of one that doesn't devolve into several women making out while men massage their feet.

As a badge of success in the modern era, there is even an online store where Web surfers can buy cuddle party gift certificates for friends and family, as well as "Cuddle Gear." Meanwhile, across the Internet, on dozens of websites and blogs, people are crying out for bigger cuddle parties, hoping to one day fill entire gymnasiums or even stadiums, like some sort of G-rated scene from "Caligula."

This, the more optimistic among them believe, will be the beginning of the end of all things bad. Myself, I'm not so sure. Problem is, I'm enough of an optimist to scuttle the idea that we're living in a fascist state, but not so much one to believe that adults rolling around on the floor together is anything more than a cheap thrill.

Shawn Macomber is a staff writer at the American Spectator and he also runs the website

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