The missing would-be bride is back home, safe and sound, in Duluth, Ga., following an adventure that began with a jogging session and ended on the other side of the country. After a futile search of all of the area Wal-Marts, authorities found Wilbanks outside of a 7-11 store in Albuquerque, N.M.

Turns out she was just a little stressed out about her wedding to Mason, which was to have occurred this past Saturday. More than 600 people were expected to attend the ceremony. Her reaction to the apprehension was to run away.

Okay, calling her a little stressed out might be a slight understatement.

I hear that planning a wedding can be a traumatic experience. I wouldn't know. I've never planned one. I was simply told the date and what time to be there. Kind of like how it is when you have to report to a minimum-security prison. The difference is that the minimum-security inmate knows the release date. Me, I'm what you call a lifer - which is not a bad thing.

I better be careful or it will be back to bread and water for 30 days, and a month without sweets is a tough stretch. Some of you guys know what I'm talking about.

The latest on the Wilbanks case is the consideration by law enforcement officials of whether or not to charge her with a crime. Her disappearance set off a nation-wide manhunt involving local, state and federal investigators. The total cost of the search is being calculated.

I would not disagree that Wilbanks should receive some sort of punishment or fine. If not, this type of activity could gain in popularity. It wouldn't surprise me if the idea made it into the next generation of reality shows - "How to Shake your Spouse," or "How Badly Do You Not Want to Get Married." The natural spin-off for those already married would be a show called, "The Best Way to Fake Your Death."

My feelings about Wilbanks are mixed. The rational side of my brain says that what she did was wrong, a cowardly move.

But on the romantic, adventurous, sell the movie and book rights for a million bucks side of my brain, I'm saying, "Way to go girl."

In fact, there are some who have called Wilbanks their hero, someone they actually look up to and admire. These are the same people who secretly wish that they could simply disappear, if only for a little while, and get away from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. I am probably referring to just about...everybody.

I have to wonder how many married people are out there who wished they had done the same thing, but didn't turn away from the altar because of "what people would say." To that I'd have to ask who is the bigger coward, someone who doesn't want to get married and does it anyway, or someone who runs away?

My next question is for Mr. Mason. Does he keep his bride-to-be, or does he trade her in on a model that knows the way home?



Tom Mark is sports editor of The Tifton Gazette.

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