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  Texas : Features : Humor : Column - "A Balloon In Cactus"

Cuddling With Your Enemies

by Maggie Van Ostrand
Maggie Van Ostrand

Just when you think you've heard every strange thing science can possibly come up with, like perfecting a way to combine human and animal embryos (we could always buy them a hair removal kit for a birthday gift), a biological computer that fits inside a drop of water (what size fingers would you need for that keyboard?) or a flying gyrocopter car (Don't we already have them and call them airplanes?), the University of Zurich in Switzerland comes along with the announcement of a "groundbreaking discovery" that's even weirder. You'll never believe this one. I'll tell you anyway.

It's a nasal spray that "increases our trust for strangers." Dr. Thomas Baumgartner of said University expects to "improve sociability by administering oxytocin," formerly known as the love hormone. When it comes to strangers, times have changed. We used to just shake hands.

Dr. Baumgartner says "people who inhaled oxytocin continued to trust strangers with their money -- even after they were betrayed." This so-called "Cuddle Drug" inhibits the defenses of those who get a whiff of that nasal spray.

Dr. Mauricio Delgado, a Rutgers University psychologist, says "While a degree of wariness may protect one from harm, being able to forgive and forget is an imperative step in maintaining long-term relationships." If that's true, send a batch to my ex-husband.

Instead of giving this drug to someone nave enough to trust a person who already betrayed them, how come nobody's talking about dosing the untrustworthy one? The words "common sense" should be updated to "uncommon sense." These people don't seem to have either.

Be frank, does this sound like much of a scientific advancement to you? When it comes to money, I don't even trust people I do know, let alone strangers. And what's good about still trusting someone even after they've betrayed you? Nobody minds jailing crooks but, if we had even a light snort of this drug, we'd just hand over our wallet and then use our savings to give them a vacation in Hawaii.

After considerable thought about potential uses of the Cuddle Drug, here are a few --

1. The U.S. government can borrow more money from China to buy the drug from Switzerland and then bribe the CEO of Glade to sell it as a new scent of room freshener. This should contribute to really happy marriages, thoughtful teenagers and very, very friendly parties. People would invite the IRS over for dinner and happily write tax checks taking no deductions.

2. Sell the cuddle drug as a perfume ingredient so all women can attract millionaires without having to look like a fugitive from Sex and the City. Chanel can sell fashionable little containers of sniff, like they used to sell tins of snuff.

3. Market it large in insecticide spray tanks. Spread it around your front door and you'll happily invite Jehovah's Witnesses inside for the weekend.

4. Drop thousands of bottles of cuddle spray onto terrorist nations so they'll quit attacking and love us instead, even if we aren't virgins any more.

5. Just drop cuddle mist on all inhabitants of all countries on the planet, so we can really love our neighbors and have world peace -- what every Miss America contestant has ever wished for.

6. Spray all of Hillary Clinton's enraged supporters to help them get calm instead of getting revenge.

It just seems that ocytocin (which is also one of the ingredients in illegal Ecstasy), should find a more worthwhile use than deleting our defenses in exchange for a measly cuddle. That's why I haven't volunteered to test this drug. Not that I'm scared, I just don't trust Dr. Baumgartner.

Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
June 9, 2008 column

 
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