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A dummy at your wedding

Don't tell me I'm the only guy who ever had to go to a wedding he wanted very much to avoid. You know, some beautiful Saturday afternoon in the summer when the fresh air and warm sunshine were calling you for golf, fishing or some other relaxation. But there is some bride or groom your kids know but you don't and you, as the parents of your kids, get invited to this near-stranger's wedding.

Some time ago I told you about a scheme for handling those Saturday-in-the-summer weddings that you don't want to go to. In moviemaking they hire "doubles" for dangerous stunts or other not-in-your-face situations or somebody else can stand in for the star and nobody knows the difference. So I proposed hiring a "double" to stand in for me at weddings while I slink off to enjoy my afternoons.

It wasn't easy to find a double who would admit to being my double. But we did find one and it worked for a while. But then it turned out I was aging faster than my double and people would see me a week after the wedding and say "whatsamatter, you look older and more tired than you did at the wedding last week. Are you feeling well -- aren't you taking your vitamins?"

Not only was my ego taking a beating, but people were starting to get suspicious. This stand-in business only works in absolute secrecy and it looked like my cover was almost blown.

Something had to change and I didn't intend on going to any more "marginal" weddings (and a few funerals) anymore. I was desperate.

Then I read about a company in California called Inflatable Crowd that creates blow up dolls that make it possible for movie directors to save on money by not having to hire real-life extras for crowd scenes. The blow-ups come with wigs and masks to make them look lifelike. They made their debut in "Seabiscuit" in 2003 --- more than 7,000 lined a racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky. Following that, inflatables have appeared in 85 feature films and numerous tv commercials. The top number was 11,000 in "Cinderella Man." Just this year 500 dummies appeared in a scene with Angelina Jolie in a thriller named "Salt."

So I have ordered this inflatable dummy that will look like me, but as the rapid aging process continues, more wrinkles will be added as reality requires. Raquel won't mind going to a wedding (or funeral) with a dummy -- she's been doing it for years. And this one won't grumble.

Not that the process will be simple. Inflatables are hard to handle in the wind, so she'd have to be most cautious getting me from the parking lot into the church. She'd have to arrive at the last minute, sign both names in the guest book and grab a seat near the back of the church, then put the dummy on the wall side on the aisle, where nobody else can sit next to it. Then she'd have to totally carry all conversations with the folks nearby. She's a great conversationalist, so that won't be much of a problem, though it wouldn't hurt if she were a ventriloquist. Then she'd have to leave before the ushers got to our row. Staying for lunch or reception after the ceremony would be out of the question unless she hustled the dummy out to the car, deflated him and covered him up and then said "I had to take my husband home -- he was all bloated." And consider this -- in any churchful of wedding attendees there may be as many as a half dozen dummies sitting there. I can't be the first guy who's considered this ruse.

For each wedding, the dummy would have on a different shirt or jacket, but nothing too stylish or folks who know me would realize that something was fishy. I think it may work.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not a phony. It's just that there are only 52 Saturdays in a year, only 12 or so in a summer and life is too short to try to act nice at a wedding of two total strangers -- that would really be phony -- so insincere.

It's better to be fishing and thinking about the wedding than to be at the wedding and thinking about fishing. Please try to understand.