"No, I'm not", the mystery guest said. "The mayor couldn't make it," he added, figuring that was what was happening. "I'm here to stand in for him."

It was new territory for the mystery guest.

"Well, the ribbon cutting is in five minutes," the young man said dubiously, consulting his watch. "You'll have to come over here." A couple of Asian businessmen stood in the middle of the bean field. In the distance, the mystery guest could see the remains of a strip mall development that had collapsed, he recalled, when the toll road scheme didn't go through.

The mystery guest posed for photographs with the smiling guys in ill-fitting suits - not without misgivings, mind you. Photographs could be a problem.

Just when they were all ready to head for the buffet suddenly someone came up with a portable phone and was talking to the young man with the clipboard, who was looking worriedly at the mystery guest. Now the businessmen were asking questions. One of them started to gesticulate angrily.