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?