#131: Out of the Mail Pouch

131.1  Dear Stolf: Would 2 half-brothers be my cousins or half-cousins? Ha ha…my spell-checker just changed “half-cousins” to “half-moons”!  …from Sunny Mullins, Plushbottom NM

131.2  Dear Sunny: Good old spell-checkers, you can’t beat ’em for shucks. But the answer to your question is a definite maybe. And the reason is this: what makes 2 individuals half-brothers is different from what makes them half-cousins.

131.3  Thus, consulting Chart 457, one of these things can occur, as in (b)…or the other can (c)…or both (d)…or neither (a)…4 different cases. What makes 2 people half-brothers is if they share one parent, but the other parents are different. What makes 2 people half-1st cousins is if their parents share one parent, with the other parents different.

chart 457

131.4  In Chart 457b, X and Z are half-brothers…they have the same father, different mothers. Their father, your Uncle U, is your father’s full brother, not half-brother…so X and your full 1st-cousins, not half-1st cousins. Uncle U can have offspring with as many women as the wants…they will all be your full cousins because he is your father’s full brother.

131.5  On the other hand, in Chart 457c, X and Z are full brothers…but their father Uncle U is your father’s half-brother…so X and Z are your half-1st cousins. Then in Chart 457d, X and Z are both half-brothers to each other, and half-1st cousins to you, since both of these conditions occur…and in Chart457a, everybody is a full something to everybody else, since neither condition occurs. So that’s the story…and a complicated answer is still an answer, nez pah?

131.6  Dear Stolf: You think you’re so smart, diagram this one: My parents had me, then got divorced, and each of them married somebody else and had a child. Those marriages ended, they got remarried, my 2 half-siblings came to live with us, AND my parents had a second child. Good luck!  …from Mix n Match, Halifax, Nova Scotia

131.7 Dear M-n-M: No luck needed…and aren’t you glad I AM so smart? I’d say Chart 458 does you up nicely…and a interesting family portrait it paints. You are A…your parents are X and Y. Your natural or full sibling, granted thru a second marriage between the same 2 people, is D…that might make it seem that you and D are something other than “regular” full siblings, but in reality that’s all you are. Now who did you live with when your parents were married to W and Z respectively? That one would have been your step-parent, for a time anyway…and altho only one of your half-siblings B and C would have been living with you, both really are your half-siblings, albeit thru different parents. Likewise, both are half-siblings to D.

chart 458.png

131.8  The interesting question is: what are B and C to each other? They are certainly not blood relatives…B’s parents are 2 different people from C‘s parents. Once you were living all together, your father is B‘s father and your mother is B‘s step-mother…conversely, your father is C‘s step-father and your mother is C‘s mother. And B and C are simply step-siblings to each other…if you and D didn’t exist, this would be a typical blended family, exactly like the Brady Bunch.

131.9  What’s unique here is that amongst and between 4 “siblings,” there are full, half-, and step- relations. But it is what it is, and that’s it. Still, I can’t resist going you one better…after your parents remarry, W and Z have a child neither wants, so E comes to live with you.

chart 459.png

131.10  Now what can we say about E? And please watch me on this, so I don’t fumble the ball… 😉 😉  First, blood…E is no blood relation…not full, not half-, not anything…to either your, your brother D or your parents. E is a half-sibling to B since they have the same mother W…and E is also a half-sibling to C thru their father Z. In other words, E has a half-sibling on his mother’s side, and another half-sibling on his father’s side. There is a movement afoot, of which I am not a member, to then call B and C “quarter-siblings,” since E is a sort of link between them. My guess is this won’t catch on, given people’s propensity to get all bollixed up by the kinship terms we have already.

131.11  What about step-‘s? I don’t see any. Regardless of what may have happened in the past, neither of your parents X and Y is currently married to either of E‘s parents W and Z. Is there such a thing as an ex-step-parent? Perhaps, but only in any sort of meaningful way if that step-parent actuality functioned as a parent to the child in question. After all, if one of your parents was married to somebody else before you were born to your currently married parents, that someone else can hardly be thought of as your step-parent…you weren’t even there at the time! I mean, it isn’t all about you, right? … 😉 😉

131.12  Getting back to Chart 459,  it’s certainly true that at one time, one of E‘s parents was your step-parent. But when this parent is no longer your step-parent, are their subsequent children your step-siblings? Nope…not in my book, and that’s my take on it…sure, I elaborated on it, but YOU brought it up, my friend…

131.13  Dear Stolf: A while back you asked for a ruling on whether you’re brother’s husband is your brother-in-law. My ruling is no. Does that make me a bad person? …from Mother Theresa, Jr., Calcutta, Iowa

131.14  Dear Mother TJ:  Of course not…to each his own. You can call your anything your anything else, and you’re perfectly free to. Language changes as it changes, but what you say and think and feel are your business and yours alone, now and for the duration. Live it!

131.15  I’ll tell you how I’d rule…but first some background. When the idea of gay domestic partnerships (“civil unions”) was first floated, I found that my take on the issue differed from what I was hearing, and that hasn’t changed. And that is, this is a single vs. married issue, not a straight vs. gay issue. Think about it…if straight couples increasingly don’t want to be married…or don’t stay married for very long when they are…why would gays?

wedding131.16  What’s going on is, unmarried couples want the same “rights and privileges” as married couples…they want to be “married” but still “single.” Gay people are by definition single, and this leads to the conflation of the 2 concepts: married/single and straight/gay. The introduction of “civil unions” brings benefits of married life to singles, regardless of lifestyle, and I would have thought that would have been the end of it. But it isn’t really about marriage, it’s about acceptance and recognition…and I wonder, as do many people these days, which groups will want acceptance and recognition next. Stay tuned, as they say…

131.17  As to my ruling…a civil union does not produce siblings-in-law…any more than “living together”…or even “going together.” Traditionally, a marriage resulted in children…thus, a family…and the whole idea of being “related” in the first place. Your in-laws are not blood relatives, but they are socially connected to you, because one of theirs married one of yours…but more importantly, because there is now somebody you’re both related to by blood: the grandchildren!

131.18  So for me, in-laws remain as they were. What about “husband” and “wife”? The Media is currently wrestling with that issue. There seems to be a general assumption that 2 men would automatically consider the other his “husband.” But some prefer the word “partner”…while a more traditional gay couple could very well consist of a “husband” and a “wife”…think La Cage aux Folles. Seems to me the word “spouse” solves everything…unless you don’t want it to be solved, because solving it isn’t the point…my 2¢ worth, anyway…

wicked ballsy

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 12.52.07 PM

Along those lines, I’m sure you’re familiar with the multi-colored rainbow flag for alternate orientations…it’s been around since 1978, you’ve probably bumped into it. Well, speaking of “acceptance and recognition,” one type of lifestyle not included in that grouping recently introduced its own flag, at least to the extent that some can speak for all…and I find that pretty interesting, having since childhood been fascinated by vexillology…(look it up!)…and that’s the Asexual Pride flag.

The black stripe represents sexuality…the white stripe, lack thereof…the gray stripe, what’s called “Gray-A” or “demisexuality,” current buzz words for low sex drive…and the purple at the bottom represents “community.” So when’s A-Pride Day at Disney World? At least no public smooching to confuse the kiddies…I’m just sayin’…


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


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