There’s a store where you can pay to spoon with a professional cuddler. For serious

As weird as I would feel cuddling up to a stranger — No, I do not want to be your little spoon this evening. Or your fork, your spatula, or any other utensil you’d care to cozy up to. — turns out a lot of people feel rather differently. At least if we’re using the interesting success of Portland, Oregon’s Cuddle Up to Me as proof.

The newly opened, er, specialty shop offers up just what its name implies: no strings attached, totally platonic, and (ostensibly) not-creepy cuddling with a stranger. A stranger who is also a “professional cuddler” by the name of Samantha Hess, whose one-woman freelance cuddling biz was in such high demand it necessitated (and funded) the new brick and mortar location, which reportedly pulled in up to 10,000 customers its first week. That’s a lot of people in need of a cuddle. (Hess’ business is actually not the first of its kind. There was this woman who founded Cuddle U NYC last year. And this woman who opened The Snuggery in 2012. Not to mention Cuddle Connections in California.)

And while this all sounds like something you might see on an episode of Portlandia (a good one!), it seems that the business is completely legit. The cuddle studio apparently comes equipped with various “themed” cuddle rooms (cuddle chambers?), cameras (for obvious safety precautionary reasons), as well as a team of female professional cuddlers who are required to undergo a 40-hour cuddling training program. We’re not sure what exactly that entails, but we’re guessing workshops on the finer nuances little spoon etiquette and what to do with one’s hands when they get sweaty from 40 straight minutes of tender hand-holding.

On a serious note, though, if the testimonials and comments already popping up on Cuddle Up to Me’s Facebook page are any evidence, Hess and her business — which tailors cuddling sessions, that can cost $60 per hour, to client’s specific needs and desires — fill a much-needed niche. The cuddling is non-sexual, as previously stated, and aims to provide the simple, soothing balm of the human touch to people who might not be getting enough of it. And, while we can’t say that the entire concept isn’t, well, odd, who are we to judge someone who just wants a quick snuggle on their lunch break? Everyone needs a good hug from time to time.

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