No, I did not make this up.
Yes, this is a real thing. How do I know?
No, not from personal experience.
I know because I read it in the June 19th New York Times: Pillow Talk with a Professional Cuddler.
Besides dog walker, barista, and bookshop clerk, this apparently is the latest and greatest way for newcomers to make their way in NYC.
News to me, the movement dates back more than a decade. The nonprofit group Cuddle Party, organizer of snuggle mixers, “has morphed into a cuddle-for-hire industry of one-on-one sessions.”
“For $79, practitioners who sign up receive about 10 hours of training.”
Yes, for less than $80 and in less than a day, you too could become a Professional Cuddler.
And what do you do exactly?
“Once trained, pro cuddlers promise a physical and psychic salve through spooning, arm tickling and deep embraces. Think of it as a blend of talk therapy, yoga and improvisational bodywork, the free jazz equivalent of massage.”
Full body, totally clothed, on a yoga mat, with pillows and blankets.
And what does this cost?
About $80 an hour.
And where does this happen?
In yoga studios, conference centers, hotel rooms, and people’s bedrooms.
So just about anybody can hang out a shingle and call themselves: a “Professional Cuddler”. No background checks. No regulations. No accreditation of any kind.
Trendy, treacherous, and sad, yes? But I believe it’s also very believable.
Alone and lonely in a city of eight million strangers, one’s desire for intimacy can long go unfulfilled. Yet the simple longing for human touch, a basic human need, is the same everywhere. Its as real in small-town Mannassass as it is in downtown Manhattan.
“Being touched and touching someone else are fundamental modes of human interaction, and increasingly, many people are seeking out their own professional touchers and body arts teachers – chiropractors, physical therapists, Gestalt therapists, Rolfers, the Alexander-technique and Feldenkrais people, massage therapists, martial arts and T’ai Chi Ch’uan instructors,” writes Sharon K. Faber, Ph.D. in Psychology Today.
“And some even wait in physician’s offices for a physical examination for ailments with no organic cause – they wait to be touched.”
I don’t know what all of those things listed above are. I, like you, will have to go to Google to figure that out. But I do know that many of these make sense: physical therapy for wounded shoulders; a deep tissue massage to decompress from stress; a chiropractic adjustment for an aching back.
Supportive, therapeutic touch.
But professional touch is not the same as personal touch. The former does not suffice to satisfy the human heart. All God’s children have a deep-seated need to reach out and touch that special someone’s hand.
Personal, intimate, relational — human touch is sacramental and sacred.
I am not talking about marriage but I am talking about something deep and holy – something that I believe I wholly deserve:
Something that no “Professional Cuddler” could ever deliver.
So this woman is on a quest. I will be borrowing a friend’s dog to hang out at the dog park. I am signing up for “Book Talks” at Mount Vernon and wine tastings at Grape and Bean. I started volunteering on occasion for Story District and also on Saturdays @LOC. I am changing my traffic patterns. I have uploaded my profile to Zoosk.
”Sex & The Single Vicar” is a very personal quest that I will very publicly post one week at a time.
A personal quest maybe not unlike your own? So dear readers, I invite you to click “follow” and come along on the search.
I promise not to disappoint — at least I’ll try.
The Rev: Joani