Both of my daughters-in-law are very smart and good-looking, and they are good writers (though only one of them blogs.) They are also both great moms who have deigned to let us spoil their children. But Janice and I only recently figured out (we are slow, after all) that one of them, Kacy, is also hip. We aren’t quite sure how that happened: how did a hip person marry into our family–especially as the spouse of one of our sons? Does that mean that Christian (our oldest) is also hip? Probably not. It is possible that after he married Kacy he got hip, but I doubt that hip can be taught at this stage of his life (early 30s) or, if it can, then I doubt that it can be taught in less than about twenty years. With the exception of our next to the youngest daughter, Rebecca, none of the rest of us has ever been hip, so it is odd to discover that there are two hip persons in the family.

That discovery makes us nervous: does that mean that Kacy merely tolerates us? Perhaps, but if she does, she’s done a good job of concealing it. Or, has she, like Rebecca, learned to overlook our nerdiness? In that case, she’s not only hip, but unusually gracious. After all, there is a sense in which Rebecca has to overlook it. But Kacy doesn’t.

However, Kacy’s hipness isn’t the only thing that makes us nervous. In the back of our minds, we have always suspected that all our childrens’ spouses merely tolerate us. Recognizing that Kacy is hip merely brought that suspicion to the front of our consciousness. In fact, it moved it from suspicion to recognition.

Mike (the husband of Lis, our youngest–college teacher, craft person, family chauffer, . . . .) tolerates our frequent requests for computer help and the fact that he has been forced by circumstances to live cheek-to-jowl with his in-laws since he got married (well, at least in the same part of Provo, which if you’re talking about in-laws is pretty much the same as cheek-to-jowl). Angela has tolerated the fact that her husband, Matthew (our second son and the creator of “Feast Upon the Word“) has my last name. Since she is a very good philosopher, it is a nuisance always to be associated (among those who know BYU) with me. I suspect it would be nice if fewer conversations started with “Are you related to Jim Faulconer?” Now that Matthew and Angela are moving to Provo (from which he will tele-commute), she’s going to hear that question more often and she, too, will have to put up with cheek-to-jowl living.

Janice and I get more and more excited about the eternal family idea as we get more and more grandchildren (number 8 is in process), especially if eternal families let us play with the kids but take them home at the end of the day. (No toddlers and elementary school kids in heaven?! Impossible.) We hope our in-laws will keep on tolerating us, even if we aren’t hip and even though we are a nuisance.

27 comments for “In-laws

  1. I spent about 15 enjoyable minutes browsing through your childrens’ blogs–thanks for the links. As for in-laws, I’m not married yet, but I’ve always thought that if the guys in my ward knew what great in-laws they’d be getting if they married me, I’d be able to turn down several proposals a week. Thanks for such a satisfying post.

  2. Naomi,

    With a sales pitch like that — “you ought to propose to me, because my family is really cool!” — I have a hard time understanding howyou’re not already married.

  3. You’re in luck, Jim, because just as brown is the new black (and pink is the new brown) square is the new hip. But, as Marge Simpson says, we don’t care about being cool. . . and that’s what makes us cool. Right? Right?

  4. Yes, Kacy, but there is a difference between knowing that square is the new hip, and being hip for knowing it, and just stumbling into hipness by accident (with any luck).

  5. Jim: Some are born hip, some achieve hipness, and some have hipness thrust upon them.

  6. I’m curious. What are the traits of a ‘hip’ person? The only thing I can gather is that proficiency with computers is hip, but that doesn’t have anything to do with why you think Kacy is hip, as far as I can tell.

  7. Traits of a hip person?

    One who can teach philosophy and STILL remain extremely well dressed (rather then portraying the mad professor look). One who travels the world, speaks fluently in many languages and enjoys a variety of cheeses and free range meat. One who not only has the ability to prepare an amazing feast, but one who also enjoys a fine dinner out with family and/or friends. And most importantly a hip person is one who emails articles about Louise Vuitton bags and Italian shoes to his daughter (now if only he could U.S. mail the actual product).

    If you fit this category you are beyond hip, beyond cool… you are one phat dawg!!

  8. Costanza (#6): I doubt it. If it were, why would I be using it?

    MattP: (#7): No, proficiency with computers doesn’t make one hip. Not all of my children’s spouses are hip. What are the characteristics? That’s difficult to say. If I knew them well, I might imitate them. But, like the Supreme Court justices, I know hip when I see it.

    Rebecca (#8): You’re not giving accurate description, just self-interested description, though I do recognize part of your description (with another spelling): fat.

  9. I don’t think synonyms for coolness expire, they just accrue. Cool. Hip. Ill.

    Also, no matter what you do, you can make it sound hip if you Snoop Dogg it, Jim: I’m sure Kacy recognizes your mad skillz with the Continizzle Philosophizzles.

  10. I have only met a few of your “hip” family members…some online, some in person. I can’t imagine they don’t come from hip stock. Besides, what could be more hip than philosophy? I wish I ‘d known (about) you when I was at BYU.

    And how is Christian NOT hip? He wears hip t-shirts and everything (but Kacy probably bought them for him).

  11. Christian is not only hip, but super fly for a white guy. And of course Jim is just being modest because as you all know he’s basically like a [Times and Seasons] rock star, which is why I begin as many conversations as I can with, “I am related to Jim Faulconer.” (Lately it seems to only carry any weight at the the dry cleaner, but still.)

    I don’t really know much about being hip, but I will venture to say that computer proficiency is to hip as school band is to cool.

  12. Heather (#16): Spoken like a true hip girl married to a true nerd. As Janice has discovered, the problem is that nerdiness can be infectious over time. But then, it after 40 (or even earlier) it hip doesn’t count for much.

  13. You’re darn right nerdiness can be infectious. Two years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of commenting on Times and Seasons, let alone having my own blog. Now look at me–it’s shameful, I tell you, SHAMEFUL! Oh, how the mighty have fallen…

  14. I’m afraid hipness is all relative. I went to a cd store today and bought:

    Prong – Rude Awakening
    Harkonen – Shake Harder Boy
    Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – Tell Balgeary, Balgury is Dead


    Christopher Cross – Christopher Cross

    See what I mean?

  15. Apropos Heather’s confession that she has been seduced by the dark side, see also Nate’s comment from December of 2003 (a lifetime ago in blog years!), discussing his wife’s views on law, philosophy, and blogging. Key quote: “She also thinks of blogging as an infectious disease.”

    I don’t know that we ever gave you a formal welcome to the leper colony, Heather. Well, better late than never — welcome to the colony! The gauze bandages are over on the big table in the middle of the room. But you already figured that out.

  16. Heather (#22): It is always possible that somehow between his graduation from BYU and the present, Nate has become hip. If, contrary to probability, that is true, I strongly suspect it has something to do with his marriage partner.

    Nate should know, however, that I have long believed that nerdiness is a positive character trait in most people. That doesn’t mean that hip people have a character flaw. As you can tell from my post, “some of my best relatives are hip.” But they are at a disadvantage that they must eventually overcome. (Kacy and Rebecca overcame that disadvantage a while back.)

    Look at the people we all knew in high school who were cool or hip. Then compare them to the nerds we knew. Where is each group now? Not exactly an experiment of which Frank would approve, but good enough for me. Hipness in the young often leads in bad directions (as it absolutely does in those over 40 who want to be hip.) It is a great, but non-essential, attribute that should be reserved for those in their twenties and thirties. But it’s all right to marry hipness (as the men on this blog did) as a substitute for having it oneself. As your earlier post hinted, that may be the best of all possible worlds, one spouse hip, the other not.

  17. Kacy #14
    My sister-in-law will argue to the death that at her high school(American Fork, UT) all the cool kids were in marching band. Not much one can say to a person like that.

  18. Jim: I don’t know, your claim to unhipness rings hollow. I have a distinct memory of having you visit my History of Civilization class — you walked in wearing Birkenstocks and lectured while sitting on the table. I leaned over to the student next to me and whispered “Hey, I didn’t know they had hip teachers at BYU.” (Sadly, I’m unsure of what you lectured on as my attention was with your shoes.)

    It was at least a year later that your hipness was confirmed when I ate a meal in your home with Matthew and Ben and realized I was in the presence of my first “Foodies” — another surefire indication of hipness.

    I’m thinking: the Faulconers wear hippie shoes AND cook as though they live in France? That was 10 years ago and I still haven’t recovered from the cool overload.

  19. My initial read of your post Jim was that I’m Kacy in my family, and I don’t mean that to toot my own horn either. I was blessed to grow up in a family that taught me to be involved in a lot of things, be well educated etc. and to be aware of how others perceived me (which can be a bad thing I’ll admit – makes you very self concious at times) anyhoo – my story if it may shed some light on what may be going on in your daughter in laws mind – if not? well, stop reading here. I married a handsome man who is NOTHING like his family – doesn’t even look like them – even though his mother jokes with me how she cannot tell her husband and mine apart (it bugs me yes). Moving right along – he’s slightly a nerd and I love him for it – I enjoy being nerdy with him (LOVED Napolean Dynamite probably because I watched it with him) but his family, I’ve learned after 3 years, speak their minds and my husbands says they were intimidated by me. By ME?!? Either way I noticed that they treated me differently which communicated to me that they didn’t like me for whatever reason. My first year of marriage was full of tears because of it. I loved them anyway for having my husband and tried in every way to gain their approval as I knew this would be an ETERNAL relationship that I had to make better. Thank heavens it is getting better and I’m understanding them more and more – I’ll agree that I do “overlook their nerdiness” as you mentioned – they’re not into the things I’m into, from a different generation and don’t understand where I’m coming from, but I’ve also learned a great deal from them because of our vast differences. So I just tell myself that’s who they are – same way you overlook anothers shortcomings because you yourself know you’re not perfect either. Really, as a daughter in law all you want is to know that the parents of the man you love so very much approve of his decision to make his home with you, approve of you and love you. This was fun for my first blog!

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