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The New Cleavers

My boyfriend and I are facing a serious dilemma. I'm 19, and he's 20, and we've been involved for about a year. A month or so into our relationship, my mom started dating his dad. At first, no one thought anything of it, but suddenly they've gotten really serious, and they've even mentioned marriage. If they get married, my boyfriend and I will become brother and sister. Although we have no biological connection, it's still not appropriate for step-siblings to be romantically involved. We don't feel as if we have the right to tell them that they can't get married, but at the same time, we don't think we should have to break up, because we were a couple first. How should we handle this?

--Worried

IT'S QUESTIONS like yours that lead one to wonder, "Whatever happened to Ward and June Cleaver?" Well, maybe it's time that someone dragged them kicking and screaming into the nineties. It might as well be me.

In my TV remake, entitled "Everybody Loves Beaver," Ward and June are divorced. She's running a lesbian bar named after the old show. She's still famous for her fresh-baked cookies, which she hands out with every beer she pours. But, these days she wears overalls and a plaid flannel apron and answers to "Jack." June-now-Jack is still on good terms with Ward; in fact, she bankrolled his new business, "It's A Drag." (He's not just the owner; he's also the Marilyn Monroe impersonator.) Beaver has a booming business in Feng-Shui -- the newly-trendy ancient Chinese art of charging $300 an hour to rid suburban homes of evil spirits. Wally hopes to follow in Beaver's New-Age footsteps and get a job as a guru...just as soon as he finishes doing ten-to-twenty on a drug charge. Poor Eddie Haskell died of a Rogaine overdose in the early nineties. His ashes were lost in the mail.

Times have changed, huh? These days, the only thing nuclear that's still going strong is radioactive waste. That's why it's crazy try to stretch rules that fit the fifties nuclear family around its splintered nineties permutations. Instead, experiment with the forgotten art of thinking for yourself. Dating the adult son of a man your mother marries is a little unusual, but it's unlikely to cause bodily injury to you, your boyfriend, small woodland animals, or any as-of-yet-unmaligned TV icons. Granted, if either couple breaks up, four people's lives could get exponentially hairy. On the bright side, if you and the grownups manage to stay goo-goo-eyed, you'll have one less house-call to make on holidays.

To ease yourself through this post-nuclear moment, remind yourself that your boyfriend isn't your brother. This substantially decreases the chance that the two of you will conceive a child with several heads (in turn, decreasing your child's career opportunities in the circus). Should your boyfriend become your "step-sibling," it's best that you avoid rooming Brady Bunch-style with the newlyweds. Aside from that, you shouldn't let their love thang cramp yours.

Copyright ©1998-9, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, Ask The Advice Goddess, which appears in 60 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.