Kissing Up to the Frenemy


Kissing up, kissing a$$, whatever you want to call it, I’m not a fan even though I am someone who’s eager to please. I have my limits and would never stoop so low as to kiss someone’s behind to keep them happy.

My uncle J and my mom have been frenemies from the beginning. They would play nice one moment before getting into a heated argument the next. Mom told me a dozen times about fighting with him the night my cousin LC was born. “He can’t do this, he can’t do that, so useless,” she would say.

Honestly, I don’t blame her. I never liked Uncle J either. I had to live with him for those 3 years when my mom left me in China and it wasn’t at all easy. I kept having this feeling like I wasn’t welcome in his home and would often be walking on eggshells when I’m around him to avoid becoming homeless at the tender age of 8. He would turn from this cool, nonchalant kind of guy to a whiny man-child in a heartbeat.

He’s been in the U.S since October of 2020 and in the recent months, I’ve noticed he has been kissing up (kowtowing) to my mom – agreeing with everything she said and doing everything she said like an obedient man-child. The strangest part is my mom is unknowingly doing the same thing which makes me feel like they both have ulterior motives.


We, as a family, went out to dinner last night to celebrate Father’s Day even though we’re one week early. On the way there, my aunt M asked about my hiking trip the day before. Even before I started recounting about the fabulous views, mom started talking, “They went up to almost 10,000-feet elevation.”

“10,000-feet?” Aunt M said, “How many meters is that?”

“Almost 2,000 meters,” Mom answered, “7,000 feet is 1 mile and 1 mile is about 1.6 Km.”

Quickly, I pulled my phone from my pocket and did a conversion. “Over 3,000 meters.” I said.

Like always, Mom began to argue, “Preposterous,” she scoffed, and then Uncle J chimed in, “Listen to your mother, she’s a math teacher. She knows what she’s talking about.”

Was, I wanted to say but instead, I said, “1 mile is 5,280 feet.” Suddenly, I felt thankful my math teachers made me memorize this crap in grade school.

Mom said nothing. The whole car was suddenly silent. Does no one admit when they’re wrong in this family?

After a moment, Mom asked, “Was the road hard to maneuver?” Again, before I could answer, she went on, “Because I’ve ridden up that way before. It was bumpy as hell in those army Humvee.”

“It’s not a dirt road.” I said, “It’s a perfectly good asphalt road. I just drive to the end of the road, park the car, and walk.”

“Still, you need to drive the mountain because how else do you get to 10,000-feet elevation?” Mom said.

“Well yeah, but it isn’t that hard.”

“But still, dangerous.” Mom said.

Uncle J frantically shook his head and waggled his finger in the backseat, “No no, I agree with your mom. You should find some place easier to hike. That road is not for me.” I’m sorry, but didn’t he race through Logan Canyon just a week before, missing every view point along the road? And now, he’s saying he can’t drive 5 miles into a canyon? Unbelievable.

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