Need a job? Become a rent-a-relative

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For those of you looking for a new job, I have a suggestion, based on an already-existing business in Japan: become a paid relative. According to Beth Hodgson of Inventorspot, the business I Want To Cheer You Up, Limited, hires out trained actors to serve as cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or whatever relatives the customer yearns for.

Apparently, the service is popular among those who fear losing face when faced with open seats at the loved one's funeral, weddings or other family function. If provided with enough material, the actors will even give speeches and do a little improv. Imagine - if you come from a family that uniformly views you as a scumbag, why not cut them dead and hire your own loving brother or sister to toast you at your wedding? Why let the cousin that you locked in the hen house as a child take his revenge at your memorial service when your faux-aunt could wail inconsolably for you?

The service also offers ersatz parents and spouses. The husband model comes in two styles; the handyman for single women who need help around the house, and the trial-husband, for the betrothed woman wishing to get a feel for how a full time male companion will change her life.

The rent-a-father can play ball with the kids, shuttle them around, do their homework while the kids play with their Wii, and take the heat at parent/teacher conferences. The rent-a-mother will, I presume, take care of every imaginable chore without complaint.

Lest you think this is all a joke, the BBC interviewed one man who rented a father because he had no one else to whom he could confide his fears and worries. Isn't that sad?

It's not Shakespeare, but such roles could be a great way for a budding actor to develop his/her chops. After all, if you can sell an audience of crotchety old aunts and uncles, Broadway will be a cinch.
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