Side Kickin’ It

Sidekicks exist to make the hero look good. They tell jokes, answer phones, make coffee, and even take a bullet (usually in the shoulder) when the story needs more drama. Sidekicks are fabulous. I want one. Sometimes I think I am one.

For my first point, I’m going to follow Keenan’s lead and tell you my favorite sidekick (and hope it takes me somewhere!). Unlike, Keenan, I’m going to be a bad Mysterista and name a non-mystery, not-even-from a-book favorite.  This one is a deep cut from Seinfeld, Darren. I think he only appeared in one episode as Kramer’s intern. If you remember the episode, Kramer formed Kraymerica Enterprises and convinced NYU to give him an intern.

Like a good sidekick, Darren played a straightman to Kramer. He translated Kramer’s lunacy into a semblance of corporate BAU and, to my delight, he managed Kramer’s daily schedule of hanging out with Jerry,George, and Elaine. It wasn’t until he executed Kramer’s vision that the bubble burst. He dropped a rubber ball filled with oil off the top of a building. Darren was comic sidekick gold.

After graduating from law school, I got a job as Darren. More specifically, I was a work-from-home sidekick to a guy with a lot of capital and plenty of Big Ideas. That wasn’t the actual job description, but close enough. I kept track of his rooftop gardening and international travel schedule, wrote blog posts, and interviewed many Washington regulators who seemed confused by my angle (I was too). This reminds me of another sidekick I loved, Manjula, Bernadette’s virtual assistant in Waiting for Bernadette. I might have actually been more of a Manjula than a Darren. If you haven’t read the book, Bernadette outsourced her assistant to India.

This was not a job that I applied for. It just happened. My name was floating on the wind in the right circles and the job happened to pay as well as my adjunct professor gig. But then again, what didn’t?

It just goes to show that wherever you go, there you are. I went to law school to become a lawyer and save the environment while wearing cute shoes. Instead, I let the wind blow me where it would and became Darren. This is true of most literary sidekicks. At least in my experience, they develop organically during the writing process. Currently, I’m writing a book about a geeky professor type. About three chapters into the manuscript, she acquired a flamboyant roommate with a ton of common sense, as much as I have to give anyway. I didn’t plan it that way, but the manuscript needed an injection of everything my main character didn’t have. Enter the sidekick.

We are all the main characters of our own lives (except when the kids are young), but in the grand scheme of things, most of us must be sidekicks, at least from time to time. Is it just me or are there any other sidekicks out there? Alternatively, do any of you have any good good polenta recipes?

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12 thoughts on “Side Kickin’ It”

  1. Fresh out of polenta recipes, sorry. But all throughout high school, I think my best friend and I traded the main character/sidekick roles. Sometimes on a daily basis. So yeah, I’d agree with you. I think most of us spend time in the real world being a sidekick. So why are they sometimes so hard to write?

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  2. There are no good recipes for polenta. But maybe that’s a job for your manservant, er, sidekick. And I really think we should start a movement where we are given sidekicks to do our bidding and make us coffee. Where do I sign up?

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  3. Sam, you crack me up: saving the environment in cute shoes. I hadn’t even that much in mind when I went to law school. I went because my grandmother told me too. Anyway, now I’m a doorman to an Irish Wolfhound. I told the kids if after I die the back door opens and closes, that’s me. Letting the dog out. Letting the dog in. And out. And in….

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  4. No good recipe for polenta – ever had it – wallpaper paste. Wait, maybe that IS the good recipe. Sorry, slightly opinionated on polenta. Love your job description. Everyone truly is a sidekick. We are all facilitators for at least one person. And really, isn’t that where the fun is? Who else but a sidekick can hide in plain sight!

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  5. I can’t believe how strong everyone’s feelings were on polenta. I always thought I should be cooking it. Going to cross polenta off my bucket list.

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  6. I’ve spent the last week being a sidekick. While for a wonderful reason (my mother-in-law turned 100 Sunday) I’ll be happy to cut this role loose
    Wednesday night when the last of the relatives departs. LoML better look out.

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