Hello readers, and welcome back to And That's Some Facts! Not to kick off this fact-a-thon on too dire a note, but here's an alarming tidbit: Nearly 38 percent of people can't even read about what "family" is because they are illiterate. That certainly is shocking, but fortunately, by the time you're done with this column, you'll not only know what a family is, but also how it is spelled and pronounced. Unless you're illiterate, in which case, the above statistic will remain unchanged—not that you will have understood any of this information thus far (Discussion Question 1).

Moving on, besides the archetypal Nuclear Family with which we're all familiar (a mother, a father, some children, and a guy with one normal hand and one hand shaped like a wolf's paw living under the floorboards that no one in the house knows about except the youngest child), there are a number of non-traditional family types as well. The most common are Divorced Families, which occur when parents have bad kids who end up driving the family apart, and Gay Families, which are the same as Nuclear Families, except that same-sex parents are legally required to prove they love each other more and promise they won't completely gay up their children (Discussion Question 2; Discussion Question 3).

And I know you Partridgeheads out there don't want to hear it, but the Partridge Family was actually just a group of children forced to marry each other to make the title of the eponymous show as accurate as possible because the television network was terrified of being sued by angry viewers; they are only a family in the most technical sense, and if that reality bothers you, then have fun living amongst the disgusting little family of falsehoods and denial you've created for yourself.

Much like Twizzlers and genetically mutated great blue herons, the family as we know it today is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. Back in the Dark Ages, before family was invented, pregnant women would squat and pop out a baby on their way to the wheat shop, deposit the infant in the nearest haystack, and continue on their journey. After that, anyone who passed by the haystack would give the baby some milk or a leather rattle or a baby-sized suit of armor—this is where the saying "It takes a village to raise a child" comes from. But unfortunately, once they reached their teen years, few of these children would stay in the haystack, and instead began loitering around, yelling and knocking over all the wheat in the wheat shop. Adult townsfolk, wanting some peace and quiet, started to lock teens up in little wooden cages. An adult was then assigned to watch over one or more teens, feeding them, scrubbing them, and making sure they didn't run off until they became adults or witches, at which point they were released into society or drowned, respectively (Discussion Question 4; Discussion Question 5).


Eventually two adults, usually a man and a woman, were assigned to watch a group of imprisoned teens, so that the teens might have an idea of how to behave once they were released. Soon after, adults started taking on additional responsibilities, like telling the teens about sex and meeting with the teens' teachers one night every semester.

One of the most interesting debates in regard to family is that age-old question, "Nature vs. Nurture, which is it? C'mon, tell us already!" This argument was finally put to rest in 1977 by the incredible case of Earl Calkins. Born in Mississippi, Calkins was eight months old when he lost control of his tiny fanboat during a family fanboating race and disappeared into Beckham Swamp in Leflore Country. He was presumed dead for 32 years, until he was discovered at a grocery store in Swiftown, Mississippi, loading up a shopping cart with raw chicken breasts to bring back to the family of alligators who had raised him. News of Calkins' discovery soon reached his human family, the Dixons (Calkins being the alligator family surname), who welcomed in Earl and the cart full of chicken breasts with open arms, picking up right where they left off and raising him as an eight-month-old infant. Earl Calkins turned out pretty screwed up, but the scientific consensus was, who wouldn't in that situation, and also, family screws you up whether it's your biological parents raising you or a bunch of reptiles (Discussion Question 6; Discussion Question 7).

Family dynamics vary widely from country to country. In Germany, for example, family makeup is very strict: after the first child is born, every subsequent child must be brought up as the opposite gender of the preceding one. And while "French Family" is often used as a euphemism for orgies, it is actually a culinary term for any post-orgy multi-course meal in which duck fat is used in every dish.

So what's next for the ol' fam-fam? Many anthropologists believe that we'll see a resurgence of Megafamilies, which enjoyed a brief moment in the spotlight in the mid-20th century. Coca-Cola lobbyists were able to influence legislation in 1961, making families of less than 500,000 people illegal. This was ostensibly to create a more unified country, but in reality, the Coca-Cola company had devised a scheme to only have to market its soft drinks to 600 households. The law was overturned the following year after a lot of violence regarding bathroom and television privileges, as well as mass confusion over incest taboos occurred (Discussion Question 8).

And that, readers, is absolutely everything you need to know about family, so why don't you go play some video games in the den? Big Mama Fact and her new "friend" Uncle Truth want some alone time.

Discussion Question 1:  How is "family" spelled? No peeking!

Discussion Question 2:
Which family member are you? If you don't know, are you sure you're even in a family? Look around you—are you related to those people? Just sort of glance; don't be too obvious about it.

Discussion Question 3: Is it true that a gay man will put his penis inside the other man's penis, via the penis-hole? Where did I hear that? Or was that the Greeks? Is it called "Greeking?" Sorry, I had a lot going on this month, and I'm not super prepared.

Discussion Question 4:
SPECIAL BRAIN EXERCISE: Not just humans can be families. Think about a family of ducks. Now think about a bunch of ducks. Seems a little more suspicious, right? Now think about just a bunch of crabs. A whole teeming pile of them, covered with crab diseases. Ugh! Now think about a family of crabs. Oh, cute! Wonder where they're going!

Discussion Question 5:
There's no Discussion Question 5 this month. True or False?

Discussion Question 6:
What if your parents had been raised by alligators? Then your grandparents would be alligators. What would that be like? There's a salient point to be made in there somewhere, but I can't think of it. Can you?

Discussion Question 7:
There is another family theory called Structural Functionalism, but don't lose any sleep over it.

Discussion Question 8:
I've gotten a lot of requests to "talk about which countries are okay to do incest in" from some of my regular readers, but it's not okay anywhere, Roy, so just drop it.