[media-credit name="Courtesy of the Snuggle House" align="aligncenter" width="586"]citizen-snugglehouse101813[/media-credit]It’s downright amazing to think how far the United States has come in terms of entrepreneurship. Back in the day, entrepreneurs developed and perfected useful things like steam engines and railroads, while today, our entrepreneurs have a tendency to charge (and overcharge at that) people for services that need not have a price tag. There are a number of really good examples that come to mind, such as tanning salons (just sit outside in the sun, people), but the one I have chosen to focus on concerns the recent opening of a certain business here in Madison, The Snuggle House.

The Snuggle House has gained national attention over the past month and a half, stealing the spotlight in local papers and even New York Magazine, not to mention that it was also a hot topic on The Today Show. This press, whether positive or not, has definitely brought this new business to the forefront of people’s minds. Additionally, allegations that The Snuggle House is actually a brothel have also been widely expressed (and it doesn’t help that this new business is likely to have more male clients than female), which delayed its opening for about a month.

However, as The Snuggle House officially opened for business last week, it seems that the snugglers were able to prove their commitment to non-sexual touch therapy. Furthermore, there are cameras in all the bedrooms, placed to protect the employees and discourage kinkiness. These two provisions really helped to put city officials’ minds at ease, but has done nothing to douse wide-spread skepticism in general — skepticism that is only furthered by the going rate of a cuddling session.

So how much is a good session of cuddling really worth nowadays? Why, a mere $60 per hour. Physical touch is not the only thing included in the package, however … individuals will also experience an “increase in oxytocin levels and a sense of well-being can last for days after a snuggling session.” If you’re looking to be more than just a regular client, though, then I have good news for you; The Snuggle House is looking to hire! You could join the ranks of the small, proud team of professional snugglers (qualifications include extensive experience with a full-body pillow, hugability and a profound belief that you’re working to benefit humanity, not exploit it.)

Aside from the fact that I am completely unable to take this business seriously (although, don’t get me wrong, I do acknowledge and appreciate these snugglers seem to be sincerely trying to help their clients through stress reduction; one snuggler in particular has made it her mission to help individuals feel more connected in a disconnected world), I’m also absolutely opposed to the notion that these snugglers are simultaneously manipulating basic human desires in order to amass wealth.

It’s awful that business owners these days are willing to sell anything to make a profit. There are many services that are better off without a price tag. And furthermore, regardless of how it’s stated, clients are still basically paying for physical intimacy — two people are on a bed, and money is exchanged. Additionally, the notion of sidling up to a complete stranger would do nothing to decrease my levels of stress; rather, it’d make me even more anxious. Overall, The Snuggle House is just proof that any good or service is marketable in today’s for-profit world.

Briana Reilly (reillybrianar@gmail.com) is a freshman intending to major in journalism and international studies.