REALITY CHECK: The Hug-o-porium is now open for business

Reality Check | Mike Taylor

As regular readers of this column know (Hi, Carrie and Dave!) I’m always looking for some new way to make enough easy money that I never have to work again. I know, I know, I don’t work all that hard now, but still, not having to work at all would be even better.

I was built — emotionally, intellectually and physically — to experience a pampered, uneventful life of leisure, indulgence and extravagance. I would be immensely happy to while away my days as a trust fund baby, living off the fruits of someone else’s hard work and sacrifice; preferably an uncle who died young, leaving me the bulk of his estate, including a nice castle in England and a big yacht anchored off the coast of Belize.

I do have a rich uncle, one I haven’t seen since I was a little kid, but he steadfastly refuses to die and even if he did he has kids of his own that will undoubtedly inherit his loot.

There might have been a time, when I was still young and marginally attractive, that I could have enticed a rich widow to marry me, but rich widows are tough to come by in my social circle. Rich widows, it turns out, do not hang out at roadside bars, pawn shops or the third floor walk-up apartments of rock ’n’ roll drummers.

Not that it matters. These days, I’m too old and ugly to attract a rich widow, or even a widow with a decent 401K. I might be able to attract a poor widow, but that would do little to advance my goal of living a life of leisure, so what’s the point.

Over the years I’ve come up with several get rich quick schemes, but so far, none have panned out. The reasons for my failures differ from scheme to scheme; some required work, which is what I’m trying to avoid in the first place; other ideas were stolen before I had a chance to implement them (curse you, Pet Rock guy!); and some I foolishly abandoned because they simply seemed too ludicrous to succeed (the career arc of Lady Gaga, for instance).

But now I think I’ve finally found the golden egg, that one, perfect stratagem that’s going to rocket my financial portfolio into that rarified ionosphere shared by guys like Bill Gates and the dude who invented the Ginsu knife.

It’s hugs.

That’s right, hugs, the kind you give your grandchildren or your best buddy after you’ve had too many beers. Plain, old hugs. Nothing erotic, nothing weird; just hugs.

“Now, wait a minute,” you may say. “Hugs are free.”

To which I say: they are … now. For centuries, people have just been giving hugs away, never once stopping to consider their potential monetary value. Until recently, that is.

Administrators at a kindergarten in China’s Jiangdu District recently figured out that students who receive regular hugs tend to do better academically than do kids who get none. Now, being relatively new to capitalism, the Jiangdu administrators are willing to explore all money-making options.

So they started charging for hugs.

I kid you not. Parents worried about the math scores of their son or daughter may now pay a $12.80 monthly “hugging fee,” which covers two hugs daily, delivered by a teacher who promises to at least appear sincere and caring. The kids whose parents are too cheap to shell out the cash can hug themselves as they slowly circle the academic drain.

Teachers say the hugging program creates a “good mood” for learning, at least for the kids getting the hugs. If the hugless kids don’t like it, they’re free to quit school and get a job in a Shanghai sneaker factory.

This all seems morally ambiguous, at best, but that’s never stopped me before. So, without further ado, I now announce the Grand Opening of Mike Taylor’s Hug-o-porium Deluxe! For only one buck, I will hug you.

The actual length of the hug may vary depending on whether you are an overweight, smelly guy in need of a shave, or a nubile, Swedish stewardess, but rest assured, the hug delivered will be sincere, caring and filled with the genuine empathy that only Mike Taylor’s Hug-o-porium Deluxe can supply.

Visa and Master Card accepted at most locations.

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