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A lot of life is about risk management. And yes, it's true, condoms and birth control pills and other such methods can reduce the risk of accidental pregnancy by a significant amount, but there is still some fragment of a percentage point of risk there. I've heard plenty of people argue that unless you're ready to deal with a pregnancy, you shouldn't be doing the deed at all.

(Usually, of course, this argument is presented by the sort of adults who are trying to convince teenagers that it's cool to say no to things. And of course, this ignores the wide variety of zero-risk erotic activities available, to say nothing of relationships in which pregnancy would be biologically impossible, but we'll ignore that for now.)

I suppose the standard thing to do here would be to draw parallels with the risks of driving a car or eating rare steak, but y'know what? I'm gonna take this comment in another direction. Here we go:

I agree with the fuddy-duddies.

I'm gonna say that even if you're in a homosexual relationship, or you're exclusively doing non-penis-in-vagina stuff, even if there is exactly zero chance of negative biological repercussions for your actions, you still shouldn't be boning someone if you don't feel you can trust them with something that important.

I'm not saying you should want to have kids with your sexual partners, certainly not. I'm certainly not saying you need to have a permanent relationship with them and I'm not saying you should be envisioning a world in which you and they have a minivan and a picket fence and PTA meetings. You can still view an accidental pregnancy with them as a terrible disaster! But if you don't feel you could at least count on them - in theory - to make monthly child support payments and babysit on weekends, if you don't feel you could rely on that person in a disaster, then why would you trust them to handle either your emotions or your genitals?

Have sex with adults, is what I'm saying. If that dude who wants to get in your pants couldn't conceivably handle an extra bill per month and changing the occasional diaper, then I don't care what it says on his driver's license - that's not a damn adult and he shouldn't be touching your junk with a ten foot pole.

So, by that standard, should Jamie and Ellen be boning?

Ellen's an easy call. I think it's obvious that she could handle emergency motherhood if she needed to, even if it meant begging Lily for a raise, and leaning on Nicole and Gina and Max for help, and cutting back on World of Warcraft and D&D. She'd have a rough time of it, to be sure, she wouldn't enjoy it, she'd curse her functioning uterus and curse the day she decided to put Jamie's sperm into it, but you'd have a tough time convincing me that Child Services should swoop in and rescue a baby from her care, that she's incompetent to deal with a juvenile human.

Jamie Halligan is a tougher call.

Jamie is resourceful and clever. Jamie is compassionate and caring. Jamie loves deeply and honestly. Jamie has talents, has a job, and if he loses that job, he could easily get another job. On paper, Jamie is a competent adult, and it'd a no-brainer that he could, at least, pay child support and change diapers.

But we've seen that Jamie is, at times, clueless. He's impulsive. He's careless. He reacts improperly to danger.

And more importantly, you've probably noticed - we have yet to see any of Jamie's friends or family in the strip itself. Virtually everyone Jamie has interacted with, over the course of Leftover Soup canon, has either been a coworker, someone he met as a result of his ongoing legal problems, or through Ellen. If Jamie and Ellen broke up, would Jamie have the same sort of support network that Ellen has? Would he have people in his life who could prop him up or bail him out in an emergency?

And, if that's a disqualifying factor, does that mean that having a close network of friends is a necessary qualifier for being considered a competent adult?

(Saturday evening, INT: EB and JH's living room, couch)

JH: Well, okay, let's break it down. What are the elements of love, exactly?
JH: There's a feeling of connection, there's concern for the other's well-being, there's the emotional... uh... enjoyment, I guess.
JH: Any of those three, I think I'd be okay with utilizing the L-word.
JH: I mean, I love my mom, I love my country, I love properly prepared gazpacho...
EB: So wait, you'd say you "loved" me if you gave a shit whether I lived or died, but didn't feel connected to me and didn't enjoy being around me?
JH: I guess? Although I wouldn't categorize it as romantic love. I think romantic, we'd need at least two of the three.
EB: Well, the issue is, with hetero romantic love, there's also an expectation of all the other crap. Marriage. Children. I'm not ready to sign off on that shit. Hell, we still haven't met each other's families at all.
JH: Oh yeah, God no, I'm certainly not signing off on generating a human being with you. I agree, it is way too soon to jump into that.
EB: Mm. Well then, maybe we should be putting the brakes on our sex life, such as it is.
JH: Well, let's not be too hasty now. I mean, even if we don't trust the pill or condoms, oral sex should be safe enough.
JH: Uh... as long as you're doing it on an empty stomach, anyway.