|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Welcome to the ``Flat Daddy" and ``Flat Mommy" phenomenon, in which life-size cutouts of deployed service members are given by the Maine National Guard to spouses, children, and relatives back home.
The Flat Daddies ride in cars, sit at the dinner table, visit the dentist, and even are brought to confession, according to their significant others on the home front.
``I prop him up in a chair, or sometimes put him on the couch and cover him up with a blanket," said Kay Judkins of Caribou, whose husband, Jim, is a minesweeper mechanic in Afghanistan. ``The cat will curl up on the blanket, and it looks kind of weird. I've tricked several people by that. They think he's home again."
Judkins said the cutout has been a comfort since her husband was deployed in January.
``He goes everywhere with me. Every day he comes to work with me," said Judkins, who works in a dentist's office. ``I just bought a new table from the Amish community, and he sits at the head of the table. Yes, he does."
In the car, her husband's image sits behind the driver's seat so Judkins can keep an eye on him. A third-grade class writes to him as their ``adopted" guardsman. And Judkins even brought her husband's cutout -- which she calls Slim Jim, because he's not -- to confession at the local church.
When asked what her husband had to confess, Judkins laughed. ``That's private," she said.
Jim Judkins had at least one precarious moment as a cutout. When cousins tried to stuff him into a suitcase to take on a cruise, they broke his neck. But instead of expensive surgery, all the cutout needed was a little duct tape, Judkins said.
Cindy Branscom of Hallowell, whose husband, Colonel John Branscom, is in Afghanistan, said spouses of service members in the 240th Engineer Group often bring their Flat Daddies to monthly support meetings and group barbecues. She said one spouse, Mary Holbrook of Hermon, has been seen in the company of her cutout husband, Lieutenant Colonel Randall Holbrook.
``Mary has taken Randy to different events," Branscom said.
But then again, that's almost expected.
``I think it's wonderful," Branscom said. ``My Flat Daddy sits in my dining room all the time. He even went to Easter dinner with us at my family's house."