"Needed," writes Carol Cassell of College Park, "is a word."
"What is the relationship between my daughter's mother-in-law and me and my son's father- and mother-in-law and me?
"The 'in-law' puts me off, as it is not a legally binding relationship. But there should be a name for it."
Reminds me a little of the debate over what you call a man and a woman who live together without benefit of a marriage certificate.
"Friends?" Too vague. "Bedmates?" Too frontal. "Roommates?" Doesn't convey the intimate character of the relationship.
Charles Osgood of CBS popularized the term POSSLQ (pronounced possle-cue). It stands for Persons of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters.
Osgood even weighed in with a poem to support his nomination. It began: "There's nothing for you I wouldn't do/If you will be my POSSLQ."
How could anyone resist a pitch so clever? Equally clever: the solution proposed by Carol Cassell to the parents-of-the-kid-your-kid-marries problem.
Carol refers to her children's in-laws as her "outlaws."
Have a better solution, anyone?
Speaking of in-laws, mine (Milt and Bernice Freundel) recently returned from a tour of Europe. They came back with the usual photos, the usual cries of glad-to-be-home and an object lesson that our police departments might do well to heed.
It seems that one afternoon in Dijon, France, Milt did a no-no. He parked his rented car beside a meter and neglected to feed it.
Do that in our fair city, and you get a limp, pink ticket with a lot of surly official language thereupon.
Do it in Dijon, and you get a crisp piece of white paper, imprinted with a message in French, German and English. Here's the English version:
"Dijon, capital of Burgundy, has always been the favourite place for amateurs of Art and Gastronomy. We are very happy to welcome you.
"However, the best-informed driver can infringe the local decisions and you are presently infringing the local decision of February 3, 1970, which established the paying parking.
"The aim of it is to relieve the town centre, in order to make it of easier access and, thus, more welcoming.
"Therefore, this text is made in the interest of all the users, and we believe you will understand it in this way.
"We wish you a nice stay in Dijon, in Burgundy, in France.
"Thank you, and come back again."
Maybe it's the mustard that makes them so kind. In any case, have you ever seen quite so gentle a warning?