Have you seen the bumper stickers around town that say, “Keep Missoula Weird?” If you haven’t, don’t worry, you will. Missoula is a city that seems to be made up of extremes and opposites. Loggers and hunters are neighbors with hippies and environmentalists. Do you think Missoula is the weirdest city in the U.S.? I’ve found one other city that just might beat Missoula in the line-up. It’s St. Louis, Missouri.

You wouldn’t suspect a little city in the Midwest to be weird, but you just might be surprised. You see, St. Louis is home to the most diabolical of all law breakers, the elusive, serial hugger. Yes, that’s right. Someone is going around hugging strangers, and the city is up in arms. Apparently, they just will not stand for being hugged by someone they don’t know.

This mysterious man has been given nicknames like Jack the Gripper and John Wayne Embracey. His M.O. to approach women while they are shopping by themselves, pretend to know them as a former neighbor, and then ask for a hug under the pretense that it is his birthday. The police have identified this menace to society, but have not formally arrested him because they are unsure whether his affectionate exploits are considered criminal activity.

I don’t know about you, but it’s at times like these that I’m thankful I live in a safe and somewhat sane place like Missoula, Montana.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of The University of Montana, animal lover and writer.