Not So Simple Census

at 12:35 AM

I hope that you filled out your census form. Me, I'm still confused. Ten years ago, I didn't have these issues.

Should I call Brian my husband or my wife? There isn't a space for 'spouse' and that sounds too technical anyway. My straight friends are comfortable with the term 'partner,' but I didn't get married to make my straight friends comfortable. And 'lover' seems too precious, a holdover from the 1970s when it was fashionable to be gay.

I refuse to compromise with titles like 'roommate.' So I decided to invent a term for 'was my husband until the state of California voted on my marriage.' Brian suggested 'gay divorcee,' but is outlawing gay marriage really a divorce?

Then there are the kids. I am glad they left me a spot for 'adopted,' but I had to work through the race issue. Again, there was no box for three quarters black and one quarter white. And for the younger one, I wrote in, "No idea who his birth father was... Some say Hispanic, some say Black...I'm guessing Irish."

But oddly enough, there was a box for 'Negro,' which I thought of as antiquated, but maybe it's now retro. I'm not really sure what the rules are in post-racial America and what my mixed race, mixed preference family should take offense at. If my sons are now 'Negro,' should I call myself 'Uranian'? I'm wondering if President Obama looked at the form before it was sent out, and which boxes he checked off.

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Then there was the issue of telephone number. I could write my home phone number, but no one answers their home phone anymore. I could put down my cell number, but I really don't want to spend my monthly minutes explaining why I wrote in my own category, 'Wuzband.'

The only question for which I was certain of the answer was the one I least wanted to admit to: my age. Fifty-one means that this is my sixth census, and so you would think I would have gotten the answers right by now. Maybe next decade the census people will include a box for the perpetually 39.

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With a Perspective, this is Kevin Fisher-Paulson.

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