A hugging newsletter? The first edition is ready for the presses.
It's the idea of a 33-year-old New York couple, owners of a greeting card firm, who have reaped an amazing success from their "Hug Coupon" in the past four years, selling them by the millions.
"We both really firmly believe in how affection helps people and gets them through life," says Ann Faraone, like her husband Charles a former schoolteacher. "Hugging is nice," he says. "It really is wonderful. I find it very, very relaxing."
"Good for one hug," reads the coupon, "redeemable from any participating human being." It has turned out to be one of the best-sellers of their firm, Once Upon a Planet. "Flabbergasting," says Ann Faraone.
The coupons are sold in packets of eight for about 50 cents in stationery and novelty shops across the country. Other big sellers in the line: "Kiss Coupon" and "Sex Coupon," also "good for One ('Nothing too raunchy here,' insists Ann Faraone) sexual encounter. . . . "
While their firm sells a wide range of items, she says, "60 percent of our mail comes in response to the hugging card."
Teachers buy them, she says, and "ministers and parent associations." Singles who want to meet someone in a bar hand them out.
"Some kids wrote that whenever mother gets mad at them, they give her a hug card."
The coupon's popularity, she says, led them to the hugging newsletter, "Let's Hug!" as a "clearinghouse to get people in touch with other people interested in hugging -- people who believe in its benefits."
Adds her husband: "Lots of people don't know how to go about getting hugged -- and they shouldn't put if off."
As for hugging in their life: "When I go home tonight," he says, "we'll progably watch the TV hugging and then go to sleep in each other's arms."