When Penthouse magazine alleged recently that Jessica Hahn was a prostitute, it had me worried. Up until a few months ago, I could enjoy the lurid details of the Jim-and-Jessica scandal from a respectable distance. Little did I know that questions about Hahn's private life would soon become a matter of family honor for me.

A few days after Hahn appeared on the Phil Donahue show and defended her decision to pose seminude for Playboy, my husband returned from a visit with his Uncle Lou and Aunt Dottie in New Jersey. He brought some stunning news.

"You won't believe this, but Aunt Dottie is first cousin to Jessica Hahn's stepfather," he said. "His name is Eddie Moylan. They grew up together."

Aunt Dottie -- one of the best fox trotters at my wedding -- was related to Jessica Hahn. That in itself was mind-blowing. But the possibilities grew more intriguing as the full implications dawned on us.

"That means you're related to Jessica Hahn!" I cried.

"We could hang her Playboy picture up as a family portrait," suggested my husband's brother.

"Cousin Jessica," I said, trying out the sound of it. Suddenly I decided that I, too, would stake a claim on this windfall of fame. I excitedly phoned my sister, who scoffed at my newly discovered connection with a celebrity. Until, that is, I reminded her that if I could claim Jessica as a relative, she could, too.

Granted, to me she's only a "shirttail" relative.

But I'd rather have Jessica riding into the family on Aunt Dottie's shirttails than not have her at all.

Is she really my relative?

"She is if you think she is," anthropologist Geoffrey Burkhart assured me.