It happened early on a recent Sunday morning at a large, well-known downtown Washington hotel. The hotel's security report that details the incident says the bizarre episode began when an irate guest telephoned the front desk and demanded to know why the hotel's beauty shop was closed; he said his wife needed her hair combed out. To claim him, a desk clerk finally volunteered to wield a brush.

But when she entered the guest's room, the hotel employe found only a well-dressed man in his 30s and, reposing in a chair, an inflatable doll with a long, auburn wig. The employe nervously combed the doll's hair until the guest asked if she'd massage the doll's neck, since the head seemed to be sagging.

"I think she'll be O.K. if you blow her up a little more," the employe said, as she declined a tip and gracefully retreated from the room.

When the guest again phoned the desk to insist his "wife's" neck required expert attention, the hotel offered to summon an ambulance. The guest said he'd ask his wife -- who he said was named Estelle -- if that would be necessary. Apparently it wasn't, because the man and his plastic companion soon appeared in the hotel's expensive restaurant to order breadfast for two.

Estelle was apparently not hungry, and the guest loudly berated her for not eating. Then he paid in cash for his room and breakfast, introduced Estelle around the lobby (the hotel staff commented on how lovely she looked), and ran the doll's finger down a posted list of neighborhood churches. Then the man and his mute escort exited the hotel, stepped into a car driven by a woman, and disappeared.

Footnote: About an hour later another man appeared in the restaurant, ordered breakfast for two, and proceeded to carry on a conversation with an imaginary companion. When he attempted to walk out without paying his check, the man -- a lawyer who works near the hotel -- explained his friend would pay the tab. Pressed, the man admitted he'd had breakfast with an invisible tablemate on a dare from a friend. One hour later a third man eating breakfast excused himself from his table, visited the men's room, and emerged wearing only a pair of tights.

Today's question: Did the guest and his inflatable doll pay for a double room?