I've just been asked to don the dress, walk the walk and act as bridesmaid to my friend Jane, who is on her third marriage. There ought to be a law against women of a certain age stooping this low. To make matters worse, Jane, the mother of three grown children, is planning to wear an orange gown. None of us were prepared.

Jane met her Mr. Right III at the gym. Jim took one look at Jane's biceps, and it was love at first sight. Never mind that Jim wouldn't know a bicep if it bit him in the rear, because he's blind as a bat without his glasses. But Jane's pheromones were going full force that day, and she gave off a scent that sent him reeling. Six months later, he popped the question, and she and Jim immediately set the date for an August wedding. Jane called the caterer, the florist, the musicians, and started buying brides magazines. She alerted us, her dearest friends, to be her ladies in waiting.

"In waiting for what?" I asked.

"My wedding," Jane said. "I want you be one of my bridesmaids."

"How many bridesmaids are you having?"

"Six, and Susan is the maid of honor."

Susan, Jane's 35year-old daughter cringed at the thought.

"You've got to be kidding, mom," she said.

But Jane wasn't kidding about any of it, including the color of the dresses, which she said had to match and must be in the salmon family because she was planning an orange wedding.

"Orange is the new white," Jane explained when we met at a shop that specializes in grotesque dresses. "I've already chosen the one I think will flatter you all."

"You all" meant the six of us, who were different shapes and sizes with complexions that made us look like death warmed over in orange. To please Jane, we had no choice but to acquiesce.

"Can't we find something in black?" Margot, the most outspoken among us, asked.

"What?" Jane went apoplectic. "This isn't a funeral. It's my wedding."

"Like there's a difference?" Margot whispered.

Being the good friends that we are and not wanting to disappoint Jane, who took this all quite seriously, we slipped into the orange taffeta dresses with a fuzzy lump in the back referred to as the "pouf."

"Poufs are the latest rage," Claire, the shop owner said. "They add a certain je ne sais quoi."

Our poufs were white tulle and as stiff as cardboard.

I had to agree: it did add a certain something by making an already atrocious-looking dress even uglier. Not only did we look like oversized oranges, but the `pouf' accentuated our rear ends as though we were sporting rabbit tails.

"Can't we lose the pouf?" I dared ask when I peered into the three-way mirror."

"The pouf makes the dress," Jane said. "It's like the icing on the cake."

Speaking of which, Jane arranged to have the cake custom-designed by the New York connoisseur Lorenz-Du Luc, who specializes in wedding cakes for the more mature couple. Instead of traditional white, he suggested an orange cake to match the color scheme and blend in with the tablecloths and flowers, all in the orange family as well. It would be accented with orange blossoms and snapdragons.

After our dresses were fitted, we tried to keep from either laughing or crying whichever emotion came first. Jane stood back and applauded, saying we were the loveliest bridesmaids she had ever seen.

Later, my daughter asked what the dresses looked like.

"Imagine you've died and been reincarnated as a Creamsicle," I said. "One needs to get very drunk and sport sunglasses. The orange glare is blinding."

The big day will soon be upon us. The dresses are ready, and all we need now are the shoes. I never realized how difficult it is to find orange strappy sandals, but for three hundred bucks I finally found a pair. The heels are so high I'll need Dramamine to ward off altitude sickness.

The good news is: if I trip while walking down the aisle, the pouf will break my fall.

Judith Marks-White shares her humorous views every other Wednesday. She can be reached at: joodth@snet.net or at www.judithmarks-white.com