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since June 19, 2001


Excerpts from The Secondhand Man, by Karin Jaeckel, Ph. D.

Book information

Matrimony-pessimists: MANUEL, ROSI and CLEMENS [p, 107]

MANUEL: When I'm fairly old

12 years.  Orphan of divorce for two years.  Lives with his mother

Father: Cohabits with his girlfriend

Grounds for divorce: Extra-marital affair of the mother and her wish to separate.

No joint custody

When I'm fairly old, about 35 years or so, that's when I'll get myself one [note].   Very likely a blonde.  Because I think blonde is truly lascivious.  Only coloured hair, but no, not that.  On account of the environment and such, because colouring, but really, that is crazy, because it all winds up in the groundwater.

    When my wife is there then, she'll naturally get a child.  Or triplets.  Then I'll stay home and be the househusband and slouch on the couch and laze in front of the TV and play cards with my friends and such.  To be househusband is cool.  When the divorce comes eventually, I'll be in fine shape.  Then my wife has to pay for me.  And she'll think three times whether she'll want that.  Most likely she'll want to stay together with me.  That's then the lesser evil.

[My note: the last phrase of the sentence does not translate well.  It is a coarse expression that is somewhat more acceptable in German than in English, but only barely.  Literally, the expression translates into "...that's when I'll tear one open for myself." —WHS] 

ROSI: When I'm big

10 years.  Lives with her mother in a household shared with the grandmother

Father: Lives alone

Grounds for divorce: continual money problems and, on account of that, deterioration of the marriage; divorce by mutual wish of both parents

No joint custody

When I'm big, I'll marry a rich man.  He must not have a beard and much money.  I'll then be the lady and he the lord: and we'll have many servants; who'll do everything for us.  Because I don't want to be like my mother and do everything myself.  Therefore I'll need the servants; so that they'll look after all the stupid stuff.  My husband must always love me.  He must do everything I want.  And he isn't even allowed to look at another woman.  If he does that, I'll get divorced.  Then I'll get half of everything.  And he'll get the aggravation.

CLEMENS: Family-labyrinth

14 years.  Lives with his mother and her second husband

Father: Re-married.  Lives with his new wife, her children, and their common children from their second marriage

Grounds for divorce: extra-marital affair of the mother and her wish for separation

No joint custody

I have a father and a mother and two biological sisters.  In addition, I have a grandma on the mother's side and a grandpa on the mother's side as well as a grandma on the father's side.  The grandpa on the father's side is dead already.  Then I still have a stepfather; that is, the husband of my mother; and a stepbrother, who nevertheless doesn't live with us, but with his mother.  I'm not related to this woman.  From my stepfather I have a step-grandma and a step-grandpa, three step-aunts and two step-uncles with amongst them seven male step-cousins and one female step-cousin.  In addition I still have a half-sister of two years and a half-brother of eight months, who both live with us and are the biological children of my stepfather and my mother.

    Because my real father married again too, I have his wife for a stepmother: from her there must still be added a step-grandma and a step-grandpa.  And then, too, there are two stepbrothers from the first marriage of my stepmother, who live together with her and my father and are older than I.  My father and my stepmother too have common children: they are my half-brother and my half-sisters, who were born twins.

    When I add all of that together, I have two fathers and two mothers, four grandmas and three grandpas, two biological sisters, three stepbrothers; two half-brothers; three half-sisters, three step-aunts, two step-uncles and eight cousins.  When I imagine that my mother or my father possibly become divorced again and marry once more — it's after all quite possible  — well, then that'll be absolute chaos.  It's not even possible for me to comprehend it all [the relationships] anymore as it is.  Most of all, because it all is supposed to be family and have something to do with me.  Nevertheless, I could really do without it.

    Formerly  — I mean my father; my mother; my sisters and me — it was different.  Somehow closer.  More true.  Now it is that my sisters and I are something like the fifth wheel on the wagon.  We belong to it all, true: but the children; I mean the ones that are one hundred percent important, the ones around which everything always turns, those that my mother has now with her new-one and those that my father has with his new-one.  They are the ones with which there is something like a family.  I mean, the core of one.

    We others are only figures on the periphery.  That's easy to see for anyone.  I've no illusions about that.

    If you experience that all-day long, well, on yourself, so quite normally, every day, you'll grasp it somewhere along the way.

    If the three of us would say now, come on, we take off, then I don't even believe that my parents would be truly sorry about that.  Or that they would miss us.  Or that they would do everything to get us back.  Well, anyway, maybe they would mourn a little bit, that's only right.  But it wouldn't be real.  Not so completely from inside.

    So really in the heart or so, there are only the children; to which father and mother who made them cling, and who didn't just come along into the new marriage.

    Just recently I read in the paper that it was predicted that in the year 2002 there'll only be families left like mine right now.  That is, father with child marries mother with child, and then they'll together make new children:  I can well imagine it.

    But for me — I'll be then about 20 and will think then that I'll make it with a wife — well, it irks me.  All that isn't for me.  Therefore I'll most likely not marry and make no children.

    Because the children, they'll in the end get the shitty end of the stick.  They completely don't know anymore where they actually belong.  They stray from one to the next and receive at each stop a few stroke-units, wherever anyone feels the obligation at the moment.  And that's that then.  Then it would be better if one wouldn't multiply at all and would enjoy everything by himself.  There are too many people in the world anyway.  Why should I add to them by making new ones.

Posted 1999 06 07
2001 02 08
2007 12 16 (reformated)