Shaking Hands With; Saluting Some Super Side Kicks
A Few Honored Sidekicks We Have Known
There are these special people who are woven into our lives who I truly believe make us better people. This group of people, who having nothing to lose, nothing to gain, is so large that not one single story can do these ‘agents of unheralded mercy,’ justice. None.
I am not necessarily pointing out our doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, police and firemen, or other everyday heroes. I am talking about a few special people, for without their help, we would end up, many times, looking more-foolish than usual, hurt, maimed or even worse, being stuck alone in a lonely, depressing, and yes, a boring world that, until someone comes up with a safe way out of this current world, we are left here to continue our life’s journey until it’s time for us to leave.
I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Right now I am craving to just sink my keyboard into: “Kickin’ It With Sidekicks.” I hope you, the non-sidekicks, will enjoy this presentation. I didn’t want to leave you out. And I know that if you are a sidekick looking for someone to help or even guide through rough places that sadly, exist in this life, or if you are currently someone’s sidekick, then it’s an easy prophecy that you will enjoy this story.
Just what is a sidekick? Well, common sense dictates that a sidekick isn’t someone who allows others to kick them in the side. I can see how that term, sidekick, can be confusing. Then how did the name, sidekick, get started? Again, this question speaks to my common sense that tells me that it came from the early, black and white movie and television westerns. You had the star, or leading man or woman, of course. Can’t do without them. No sir. Just got to have the star or the show is suddenly on the skids. Then you have a somewhat-obscure, almost-forgettable actor who, in the westerns, who rode alongside of the star. In fact, this actor, the somewhat-obscure, almost-forgettable actor rode so close to the star, that the star’s (right or left) foot could easily stretch out and “kick” the tag-along actor. Thus, the label, sidekick. And what a name for people to remember you by when your eulogy is read. I’m very serious.
This might be a peek into a confidential conversation held between two of the deceased’s young nephews who were in attendance at the one nephew’s uncle, the sidekick’s funeral:
“Hey, Tommy. What did your uncle do for a living?”
“Oh, he was Gene Barry’s sidekick on Gene‘s western show: Bat Masterson.”
“Tommy, who’s Gene Barry and Bat Masterson . . .and who what in heck is a sidekick?”
“Well, Jimmy, I don’t rightly know. I think it’s someone who goes everywhere with their boss who is an important person--to do things to make them look good, take all the blame for their clumsy mistakes and to, well, just take what their important boss dishes out and keeps their mouths shut.”
“Tommy, uh, do you want to be a sidekick when you get to be a man?”
“Jimmy! Are you kiddin’ me? No way! I want my life to mean something!”
Honestly. See just how unimportant, and sad, the passing of a sidekick really is? And think of just how humiliating the title sidekick is to the sidekick’s survivors. I never knew until I dug into the research for this story that I would be feeling this bad writing about what I used to think was a noble role, a sidekick. Boy, did someone pull the wool over my eyes, but there again, I am not any relation to the great Albert Einstein.
Sidekicks must have these credentials in order to work for someone famous, powerful, or holds an important position in life.
A sidekick . . .
1. Is not to be good-looking for that would be an area of competition with his boss.
2. Is not to be that smart. Intelligence goes to the man who is the star of the show, leader of the pack, and captain of the ship. A non-intelligent sidekick can help a person like this be on the ‘fast track’ of success and just by being less-than-intelligent.
3. Cannot have any ambition to better himself. If a sidekick should give in to that human weakness of wanting better pay, or in the sidekick’s job, just some pay, and better working conditions, this would give all true sidekicks a bad name. And up and coming sidekicks do not want to ruffle the feathers of the Sidekick Brotherhood of America.
4. Is never to have much dialogue. At all. For any reason. The most-used words and phrases a professional sidekick uses are: “Yes, sir!” “Hey, you are right!” and “You’re a genius,” all being said to the sidekick’s boss, who is not necessarily his friend. (don’t confuse Gabby Hayes, Roy Rogers’ sidekick with an average, everyday sidekick. Hayes and Rogers were buddies. Some stars, bosses, and important people are not friends with their sidekicks for it complicates the working relationship.)
5. Is never, I mean never, get the hot chick in the bar or party scene. She goes to the sidekick’s old fraternity buddy or coworker in the office. Have you noticed that society, without telling us, has sneaked the term ‘wingman,’ into the interactions of men and women who are involved in the single’s dating arena? What a slap in the face for all sidekicks. I guess someone though that calling their sidekick a wingman would make them stay with them a while longer as they trolled the bars for single chicks. But the dreadful, and humiliating job duties of a wingman are the same as a sidekick. The wingman is to stand along side the better-looking frat buddy or coworker, and look opaque. Uninterested in the girl. And agree with the good-looking frat buddy or coworker’s every statement while laughing at his every stale joke. And when the conversation hit’s a lull, the wingman steps in and says highly-provocative things (about the good-looking frat buddy or coworker) like: “Hey, girls, did you know that my buddy here has been secretly been working in a cure for the common cold? And other things to make this hot chick fall deeper in love with the wingman/sidekick’s buddy.
6. Is never to have any time to himself. He must wear a pager (if they still exist) or keep his cell phone activated at all times--just in case his superior friend or boss needs him to bolt out of bed, dress in a three-piece suit (or some other fitting wardrobe) and hurry to his superior friend or boss’ side to make him look good and not complain about the hour being 2:30 a.m.
Which brings me to this final description of a sidekick:
7. A sidekick is never to complain. About anything. Pay, or lack thereof. How he is treated by his amazingly-talented buddy or boss, or it’s the unemployment office for this rebellious sidekick.
These things listed below are things that any sidekick can do while working for his important friend or boss, to help keep him, the sidekick, employed. I say employed, but the poor sidekick never sees any cash, check or cashier’s voucher. Hmmm. Did you ever see Tonto, The Lone Ranger’s sidekick ever receive any pay for the many times he risked his life for The Lone Ranger? No. I didn’t thinks so either.
1. A good sidekick must have a dopey, spaced-out look on his face at all times
2. A good sidekick must be able to endure a lot of fun-making at his expense. Example: a very-popular man about town goes, with his sidekick (equipped with dopey look on his face) to a swinging bar where the drinks are expensive and the girls are hot. The very-popular man about town sees an attractive blond sitting (where else but) at the bar. The man about town, dressed in an expensive tuxedo, and his sidekick (who hasn’t earned the title wing man, yet), both walk over to the pretty girl. This is how that meeting might go down:
“Hey there, pretty girl,” the man about town says.
“Excuse me? Do I know you?” she, the pretty blond snaps.
“Hey, you’d better show my buddy some respect. He just invented a new gadget that will help car owners save thousands on gasoline,” the sidekick says--still maintaining a dumb look on his face.
“What was it, a motorcycle?” the pretty blond fires back.
“Pretty girl, that was funny. Buy you a drink?” man about town says leaning on the bar to look more manly and appealing to the hot girl.
“Yeah, let him buy you a drink. He doesn’t buy just any girl a drink,” the sidekick says making the girl look and feel extra-special.
“We-e-e-e-w, I dunno. I might let you, (man about town of course) buy me a vodka martini, but that friend of yours, ewwwwww, he creeps me out,” the blond says wrinkling her nose.
“What? Ol’ Bill? He’s a good buddy o’ mine! We go back a few . . .man about town acts like he forgets how many years on purpose to let his sidekick say another magic line to make him look better to the girl.
“22 and a half years,” sidekick says looking toward the ceiling.
“What does your, ewww, Bill friend, do for a living? Looks like you picked him up in the alley,” the blonde says only fueling the man about town’s next theatrical event to make “Bill,” the sidekick look more foolish.
“Oh, he’s a professional manure collector! (Both man about town and pretty blond burst into laughter), you might say that he really ‘shovels the stuff,’ everyday. Right, Bill?” man about town asks Bill who immediately says, “Uhhh, yep! You are right, Mr. Jennings. I must apologize for the smell, miss. It goes with the job,” the poor humiliated sidekick says trying to grasp ‘some’ human dignity.
“Ewww, you mean you came directly here from shoveling manure?” the blond asks while Jennings, the sidekick’s superior friend holds himself over in hard laughter.
“ No, uhhhh, miss. I was talking about my Old Spice after shave I’m wearin’,” the humiliated sidekick says.
“Now, pretty girl. How about that vodka martini?” man about town asks impatiently.
“Well, okay, but just one more thing about this Bill. Does he do any tricks…(laughs) he looks like a German Shepherd with that hair on his neck and awful brown checked shirt,” the blond coos.
“Awww, now, Ol’ Bill can do lots of tricks. Right, Bill?” man about town says as the sidekick goes into action as if programmed like an advanced computer.
Man about town (grinning) says, “Okay, Bill. Sit. (sidekick Bill sits in floor); Beg! (sidekick Bill holds up his hands like paws); Speak, Bill! (sidekick Bill barks loudly as a crowd slowly gathers--pointing, laughing at him.) Good boy, Bill!” man about town brags on Bill who stands up and is grateful that the degradation is over. “Here, Bill--a treat for you!” man about town, to the blonde’s delight, and the crowd that has swelled, throws Bill a pretzel from the bowl on the bar and Bill eats it down like a hungry German Shepherd.
And needless to say, man about town, Jon Jennings, phony architect and full-time liar, gets to buy the blond a vodka martini and takes her home leaving Bill, the sidekick, to fin for himself to get back to his apartment somewhere in the dismal part of town. (NOTE: a sidekick’s car, home, wife, kids cannot be better than his superior friend’s family or belongings).
But what about if the sidekick has a wife and kids? How does this scene play out one morning at breakfast? We are about to find out. Are you on your second box of Kleenex yet?
Mrs. Sidekick and two sidekick kids are sitting at the dining table awaiting Mr. Sidekick to come down from the bedroom to join them in a breakfast meal.
“Mornin,’ honey. Kids. Am I famished!” Mr. Sidekick says rubbing his hands together as he sees bowls of oatmeal sitting in front of everyone.
“What’s this, oatmeal again, dear?” Mr. Sidekick mildly complains.
“Well, Mister, if you had any backbone, you would have asked that Burt Reynolds for at least a tip last week when you made him look handsome again--and if you ask me, with all his face lifts, that is a hard job,” Mrs. Sidekick replies.
“I know, dear, but Burt has hit some rough times with Loni taking him to the cleaners in that nasty divorce. He could only afford Vienna sausages to eat at that nightclub he took us too where I said stuff to the ladies to build him up so he could get a date and be a man again,” humble-hearted Mr. Sidekick says taking a bite of cold oatmeal.
About now, the sidekick children burst into tears for their dad being so gullible and poor and not having decent food for breakfast.
“Awww, now, now, kids. Things will be better. I got a job this morning that lasts all week--working for Casey Anthony, that young woman who was on trial in Florida a ways back. Her lawyer friend told me on the phone yesterday that Casey needs all of my expertise in side kicking to make people like her again and said I was the man for the job,” Mr. Sidekick says with a twinkle in his eyes.
Not everyone can be a sidekick. This is not a job that just any “Joe” who just got off the bus can do. Take my word for this. I know. For I, at one time, was a sidekick for three different men from my not-so-distant past.
Here are their names:
RONDAL SMOTHERMAN - (deceased), from Hamilton, Alabama. He was a friend of mine in 1973 and ‘74. Rondal was intelligent, witty, and confident, but needed me to act his his sidekick when we would go to our neighboring city of Winfield, Alabama on Friday and Saturday nights to pick up girls. Many is the time that we would park next to a girl and her friend and start a conversation and like clockwork, Rondal would start fading in the conversation and would immediately start making fun of my shirt, hair and sometimes my job, to get a laugh from the girls at hand so he could land a date for the night. What about me? What did I do? The truth is, what about me? I couldn’t do anything. Most of the time, Rondal got the dates and I got the shattered self-esteem. Par for the course for a sidekick.
DONNIE AVERY - (also deceased), Hamilton, Alabama. Not much to be said about Donnie except he was not socially-successful. He had the looks, personality, and even the hair, but he was so shy that he would cause me to trip in front of girls to get them to look at me while he made his move to ask them out--which, I didn’t shed a tear, for this ploy never worked for Donnie. I never knew why he was this way toward me. Guess he felt that I could be used. And I was. And let me just say this to you would-be sidekicks or wing men, DON’T.
LES WALTERS - a great friend I made in 1979 when he came to Hamilton and started a competing newspaper. Les was off-the-wall, intelligent, and creative. I went to work for him in 1984, but he had this tendency to make fun of me (in front of people), for no reason except to make himself look better. He didn’t need to lower himself to this tactic for he already had the looks, smarts, and lots of witty things to say. And years later, at another paper, he would volunteer me to go with him to talk to some civic club and there too, he would find reasons to verbally shoot me full of holes while the onlookers thought that this was part of his “act,” but it wasn’t. But with God’s grace, I endured.
So young men and women, (hey, before I finish, I have never heard of a ‘wing woman,’ for a really good-looking girl who wants to meet a really good-looking guy at a bar. Is there such a person as a wing woman or wing girl? Just wondering.) if you have read this story and thought that the life of a sidekick is that of glamour, fame, money and posterity, you have arrived at a sad reality that a sidekick’s life is far from these descriptions.
I never implied that (a few rare) sidekicks were not appreciated. They are. They make us better at living our lives.
It’s been said by noted theologians, authors, and sociologists that everything is life is for a reason and everyone fits into a “grand scheme” of things that we as fragile mortals can never grasp. And I have to agree with this.
But I can find no validation or justification to how some sidekicks are treated by their so-called elite friends and bosses. Why would God, in His far-superior thinking, have a reason for allowing certain sidekicks in life to be treated to harshly? I don’t have the answer. Maybe you do.
But if sidekicks were around from the beginning of time, then Jesus, when forming His ministry, called 12 disciples, and by our carnal understanding, could be called His sidekicks. And if this is true, He never treated any one of his disciples or apostles like trash to make Himself look better than they looked.
God bless you, the humble, good-hearted and selfless sidekicks of our world. I proudly and without any apology, salute you and am honored to be a part of your distinguished ranks.
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