Every grown man should have a large stuffed animal. Mine is a shark. I named him Chester, after my friend who used to sing for me. I just gave Chester a hug. In fact, nowadays, I do it every morning.
You see, Chester guards the other half of the bed. Whenever my girlfriend isn’t here, he makes sure everything stays as it is. In the meantime, he supports me with free hugs.
When I was a teenager, I saw a documentary about “The Scary Guy.” Scary is mostly frightening in appearance: Tattooed and pierced from top to bottom, he looks like a Hells Angels VIP member. Actually, he’s more of a teddy bear, and for over 25 years, he’s been a speaker going up against hate, violence, and bullying, particularly at high schools.
I’ll never forget the scene with Toby. According to science, Scary explains, each human being needs 16 hugs a day in order to go to bed on a normal, healthy emotional level. “Wow! I wonder how many normal people are on this planet,” Scary says.
After waiting for his 16 hugs a day and getting only three in six months, Scary decided to go out and get his 16 hugs a day. Then, he shows Toby how two boys can hug in the hallway without everyone pointing at them and whispering that they must be gay.
That’s the reason I said “every grown man” in the beginning: Of course every woman and, in fact, every grown adult should have a fluffy buddy of their choosing. It is especially for men, however, that hugging a furry panda might be considered weird. Imagine walking into a 30-year-old woman’s apartment and seeing a large stuffed dolphin on the couch. “How cute,” you might say. Replace the woman with a man, and you can see how easily “How cute” might become “How weird.”
Men commit most violent crimes. Men are the ones shooting up schools. Men are more prone to suicide. At the same time, men are less likely to show public displays of affection. Men constantly worry about both looking and actually being strong, and men are, unfortunately, quick to mock other men when they aren’t. I don’t know exactly how, but I’m sure all of this connects.
I don’t think the science Scary quoted actually exists, but I don’t need a study to know we need more hugs. In a nice trend among at least my group of friends, the men have started hugging each other more frequently in recent years. We’re not quite at 16 a day, but we’re moving in the right direction. Scary would be proud.
Until we get there, Chester will be happy to keep subbing in. No matter your gender, age, or profession, I highly recommend you secure a quiet yet fluffy friend. That way, you’ll always get your hugs when you need them – and it’ll never be too late for the saving grace of an honest embrace.