What It Feels Like to Hug Richard Fuld

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"My face on your shoulder." Photo: Getty Images

This past weekend, Clare Baldwin, a journalist from San Francisco, had a unique experience. While staking out Richard Fuld at his home in Ketchem, Idaho, the 26-year-old Reuters reporter was hugged by the former Lehman Brothers CEO — twice. "The hug was warm," Baldwin wrote in her report, adding that it was

far from what you might expect from a banker nicknamed "gorilla" for his combative and intimidating behavior. It was accompanied by a departing "goodbye, sweetie."


Fascinating. Still, for us this raised further questions. What were the circumstances of the hugs? More important, what does the man who has been called Wall Street Public Enemy No. 1 feel like and smell like? Because we're never afraid to ask the important questions, we called Baldwin and demanded further details. She gave them.

Okay, re-create the hugs for me. I want to feel like I am there.
There were two of them. The first one happened on Friday afternoon. We had been talking for about ten minutes. He had been kind of leaning against my car. He reached out to shake my hand, then he just kind of leaned in and gave me a hug.

Like was it a one-armed deal, or a full embrace?
Both arms. It was like a hug.

Was it a pervy hug? Did he press up against you in a gross way at all?
No, no. Not at all. There was no weird dynamic to it at all. I'd been asking him stuff that was personal. It felt natural, though I wasn't expecting it, certainly.

Did he feel soft, or was he more wiry and muscular?
He's very fit, and he has a very angular face, you know. But he was wearing soft clothes. A black fleece vest over a long-sleeved underwear top, shorts, and sandals.

Was he wearing socks with the sandals?
No, but he had a sock tan.

Was he scratchy or hairy-feeling at all?
He had a really short haircut, but he wasn't hairy.

Did he have a scent at all?
Not that I can recall.

Really? Nothing? I suppose you were so shocked you forgot to bury your face in his collarbone and inhale deeply.
Sorry.

That's fine, I mean, it's a hole in your reporting that your editors may not be happy with, but you know. Any other observations?
He's not particularly tall. He certainly has a presence but he's not very tall.

Okay, let's move on to the second hug. You figured out he was flying back to New York on a 7 a.m. flight, and booked yourself a ticket on the same plane, which had a layover in Salt Lake City. [Ed: We're paraphrasing to speed things along.]
He didn't really want to talk on the plane, but he said he'd talk when we got to Salt Lake City. When we landed, I talked to him a bit more. We parted ways, then I found him again at the gate. I said, "You know, I gotta try this one more time. I don't understand why you're not talking anyway. There's going to be a lot of press around the 15th. Are you scared, what's going on?" He said he didn't want to be defensive. Then he was called to board. He just kind of threw his arm around me, and said something like, "I have daughters your age — what are we going to do with you, Clare?" That was like a side hug.

Like an arm around, more than a hug. Anyway, okay. You have the Gorilla's arm around you, for the second time. The initial shock is over. What do you remember?
Hmm. Not much, really. He was dressed very casually again. He was wearing jeans.

Like Barack Obama mom jeans or fashionable jeans like Ryan Seacrest buys for Larry King?
Not really fashionable, but not that bad. Light-blue loose-fitting jeans. And a white T-shirt. With a pocket.

So his bare arm touched you this time? Was it hairy?
Well, no, because he had a shirt over the T-shirt. A red-and-white collared shirt, which was open.

Oh. Did you pick up any scent at all? Any recognizable male grooming products?
Nothing distinguishable. He didn't really smell like anything.

Maybe if I sent over some sample-size versions of Mennen Speed Stick and Old Spice, it would jog your sense memory. I'll get on that. In the meantime, anything else?
He had a little North Face backpack.

Well. That's kind of cute.

On Dick Fuld's trail, no dinner but I got hugged [Reuters]