Mr. Huggins is a bear on the edge: addicted to g’oo, suffering withdrawals and living in a tree. Discarded billboards tell the story of g’oo, a drink designed by Megacorp to make critters feel good, which eventually results in Megacorp owned rehab clinics. Huggins tries to enjoy coffee with his doggedly optimistic hippo friend Snugglypoo, but is concerned their favorite Deli (now owned by Megacorp) will switch to cheaper beans. Hug recalls the days when he first came to the city of Villeville with dreams of becoming a trolley car tour guide. When he discovered the trolley hadn’t run in years, he built a rickshaw and started his own tours, blasting the city for its corruption. A shady figure, Wiley Willy inspires Huggins to turn his little tour business into a full-fledged enterprise, but disappears sticking Hug with the expenses.
“You guys suck. Get your act together” is the aimless complaint Hug writes on a napkin. Snugglypoo sees it as a legitimate call for change and goads Hug to take it to City Hall. On the way, they run into a politicking Shermanist, contraband g’oo bootleggers, riddling transcendentalists, and a rehab mongering weasel. All the while, behind closed doors, Megacorp is meeting with mayor Polly Wally to get his support for Kindnesse (a g’oo substitute) in exchange for their political clout. Polly correctly surmises they’ve thrown support behind his political rival Happy Snuggletoes too. Despite setbacks, Hug and Snug succeed in delivering the complaint napkin, but Hug is convinced it was a pointless exercise. In a bizarre turn, the aimless napkin causes Polly to give a second look at Kindnesse.
All In a Day’s Work
Snug works as a groundskeeper at the estate of a reclusive billionaire. Hug complains about how no one really listens on his tours and decides Snug’s job is probably even more thankless. But Snug actually likes working with his friend Paddy Paws, a goof-off porcupine who would rather pick berries than rake leaves. While giving a tour, Hug’s path is blocked by a caustic mayoral debate, and though he insists he’s not a delivery service, a member of the Wick Party asks him to deliver fliers to campaign headquarters. Sitting in traffic, he reads the fliers, incensed that they are full of lies. He convinces Snug, a self professed ‘wording expert’, to help him print up a more honest version, and they deliver those to campaign headquarters instead.
Hug crosses paths with Happy Snuggletoes, a mayoral candidate for the Robe party, who explains to a small crowd that there would be more money for programs if the City didn’t spend so much cleaning up after Jackasses. Hug recalls his days as a jackass, when he was high on g’oo and part of the ‘roof boccie’ scene that went around smashing windows and reeking havoc in search of a more challenging boccie game. It was during one of these games he met Snugglypoo when an errant boccie ball sailed right up Snug’s ass. Hug takes Snug to the children’s hospital where Snug fills up on pop rocks, causing the ball to come flying out like a bullet destroying the hospital. Hug and Snug flee the scene. A while later, the Megacorp backed incumbent, Polly wins the election, which Hug laments, was “fixed from day one.”
The Smiling Truth
Hug complains that his stomach hurts from eating too many danish and asks Snug if they can take the bus home instead of walking. A crocodile convinces them one of the buses will take them where they need to go, but instead of taking them home, it whisks them off the The Smiling Truth Spiritual Retreat and Health Spa. While critters from all walks of life reside here, it is mostly inhabited by bunnies who annoy Hug with their cryptic riddle speak. Hug admits the grounds are nice, but when they meet guru Rama-Lama Ding-Dong, his suggestion that they take a good long look at themselves prompts Hug to flee.
A Near Death Experience
Hug’s rickshaw is crushed by a street sweeper nearly killing him. He tries to demand compensation from the City, but they only point out he’s not running a licensed business, nor operating a registered vehicle. After they hit him up for fees, Hug takes his revenge by making his new rickshaw out of a billboard welcoming critters to Villeville. Sitting at his favorite spot by the river, he tells Snug he’s disappointed his brush with death didn’t inspire an new appreciation for life–something Snug suggests he should have put in his demand letter.
Hug Sues Megacorp Part I
Hug finds “Suing Megacorp for Dummies” at the bookstore and decides a good lawsuit might be just the thing to cheer him up. He returns to City Hall to file suit and is directed to a table marked “most common forms”. Ultimately, since the book is mostly about critters who tried to sue and lost (and Snug warns him they might take his tree), Hug loses his nerve, stuffing the form behind his oven.
Road rage plagues the City and a community meeting is called where Polly Wally takes in all manner of stupid suggestions including traffic cheerleaders to lift critters spirits and keep them attentive behind the wheel. The same weasel who once worked at the rehab center is dispatched to validate critters’ existences. Hug mocks him and his empty mission despite the weasel’s assurance that research has shown critters appreciate even insincere validation. Sir Hugs-a-lot, a Megacorp stooge, initiates a public contest for ideas to fix the traffic issues (the winner gets free helicopter rides to work). Hug resists at first, but eventually suggests they reverse all the one way streets, an idea Sir Hugs-a-lot’s assistant steals. The plan causes havoc all over the City and Hug decides he might have been lucky to have the idea stolen from him.
Hug Sues Megacorp Part II
After discovering Megacorp slowed down their elevators so they could charge more for parking, Hug resolves to sue Megacorp for every cent they made from g’oo. Megacorp’s law firm, Goodness, Golly and Gosh, files the suit under “Amusing” and attempts to strong arm Hug into caving in. The case goes to court where Hug’s argument that g’oo has ruined his life is quickly dissected. The pitbull lawyer argues that Hug alone is responsible for his pathetic circumstances. Hug loses the suit, but for reasons that are unclear, Sir Hugs-a-Lot decides to drop the counter suit against Mr. Huggins.
The Truth About Mr. Dibbington
When Snug’s mower strikes a rock, smashing the window to boss Dibbington’s indoor pool, Snug discovers that the billionaire’s pool is overgrown with weeds. Fond of mysteries, Snug investigates and discovers that for the two years he has known Mr. Dibbington (and talked to him via instant message), the reclusive tapir has been dead. Six of the old geiser’s employees have been running his enterprises, reaping profits and keeping his death a secret. Snug seeks out Dibbington’s estranged son, who after some convincing, decides to take over his father’s business and keep Snug and Paddy Paws on staff. Shaken up by the tragedy, Snug ponders the meaning of life and death and wonders how well, if at all, he knew the real Mr. Dibbington.
Meditations on Meditation
Snug asks Hug what he thinks the meditation critters think is happening to them. When Hug says “Nothing,” Snug decides that sounds kind of nice. Later, one of Mr. Huggin’s rickshaw passengers asks him what he would do if it was the last day of his life. It gives him pause because he draws a blank so he asks Snug who also draws a blank. The search for meaning leads Snug to the meditation critters and Huggins, feeling lonely and a little lost himself, decides to pay Snug a visit at the Smiling Truth retreat just to prove to himself it’s just a scam. On the bus to the compound, he talks to a devotee who refutes Hug’s impression that the grounds are a money making enterprise. When Hug catches up to Snug, he is frustrated by all his double speak as Snug explains he came there to hook himself or unhook himself. Snug begs him to give meditation at try and Hug falls asleep in the process, affirming his opinion that there’s nothing special about it. Snug, who struggles to articulate his interest in meditation, tells Hug he thinks it might be a new phase in his life, but retreats a little, parroting Huggins sentiment that one day he may look back and wonder what the hell he was thinking.
Hug pulls a giraffe around town and explains that Megacorp has been the political gatekeeper in Villeville for ages. The giraffe asks how long so off Hug runs to the library to find out. He goes into a dream as he reads about the history of Villeville, where he meets Gordy the founder of a then modest drug and sundry named Megacorp. Gordy leads the disenfranchised shop keepers against the heavy hand of the mayor who is running a protection racket. When they succeed, Gordy declares that no longer will corruption rule and Hug adds that in the future they would all be like Megacorp. “And then the nightmare began,” Hug explains upon waking up.
Mr. Weasley gets roped into participating in a medical billing scam, where they have him on the phones trying to extract credit card info in exchange for empty promises. Even his shaky moral compass is disturbed by this (that and critters are yelling at him) and he quits, loses his apartment and moves in with Hug. As he tries to emulate Hug’s laid back life off the grid, Hug feels Weasley’s rickshaw business is a travesty, a fun house mirror version of him that glorifies Villeville for all its empty positives. Hug criticizes him for being such a shill and they almost comes to blows. Weasley eventually sees that his enthusiasm and desire to make everyone happy led him to paint a too rosey picture of things.
The Meditation Center
Snug lures Hug to a new meditation center with the promise of free coffee. When they get there, Hug is angry Snug duped him, but agrees to stick around as long as he can make snide remarks. After a particularly dumb string of dumb thoughts during meditation, Hug feels a moment of bliss when he heeds Rama-lama’s advice to just accept them. But he retreats, deciding that doing so would be stupid. Hug is now conflicted, because the moment of clarity has made him a more peaceful and accepting person, but to his critical mind the experience of accepting his dumb thoughts is… well… just dumb.