Metatalktail Hour: Holy First Person Peripheral POV, Batman! October 8, 2022 2:23 AM   Subscribe

Happy weekend, fam! For this week's Metatalktails, shockingly, you are not the main character. Instead, you are the sidekick. You are the loyal Watson to someone else's Holmes, the devoted Samwise to someone's Frodo, the bemused Sancho to someone's Quixote ...

So tell me about your sidekick character. What do you wear? How did you become a sidekick? What are your skills and attributes? What is your signature quote, mannerism, or physical characteristic? Is there any upward mobility in your storyline? Do you secretly aspire to become the main character?

Orrrr, just tell us about what's happening with you, what you've been up to, what's good (but no pols plz!).
posted by taz (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 2:23 AM (37 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I think I am the wise cracking sidekick that plays off the playing it straight main character, but everyone probably thinks that. I'm actually probably the expendable red shirt.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:45 AM on October 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Often I feel like I am the sidekick who organizes absolutely everything so that the main character doesn't have to plan or decide anything.
posted by JanetLand at 5:52 AM on October 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

I’m the sidekick no one knows about because I’m at home snuggling with my dogs.
posted by obfuscation at 6:06 AM on October 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

I am smarter than the main character, calmer under pressure, and more skilled at whatever it is we do. But I am not particularly interested in fame or power, so I'm content to let someone else be the one everyone else sees as the main character, while I focus on actually saving people or solving the mystery.
posted by Redstart at 6:49 AM on October 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

I have always identified with the sidekick more than the star — I think because I always find their affection for the star so compelling. It’s such a cheap writing trick but I totally eat it up. Definitely Team Samwise, Team John Watson over here.

If I were a sidekick I’d be the person in the situation room typing fast and whipping up graphs to help the president/general/superhero make decisions. It’s a great place for someone with more skills than courage.
posted by eirias at 7:01 AM on October 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Content warning: sad


Maybe I shouldn't comment this near the top of the thread. I'd feel bad if I derailed the tone, ruined someone's fun. It does, however, align a little with this week's theme so I'm going to bull ahead anyway:

Today is a hard day. In a couple of hours I'm leaving to attend a memorial service for someone I've known for nearly three decades. This person has figured large in my life all along, in many respects a person I strove to emulate, looked at as a role model and mentor. We worked closely alongside each other in the 90s, early in my career. This evolved eventually to his working for me, and for a time, my working for him.

The relationship was, however, barely a professional one. Work was merely the context in which we met, where we got to spend the most time together for a decade. Sure, like old corporate professionals do things would turn towards shop talk at least at some point whenever we met but that was more a matter of reflecting each other. We processed what we experienced together, both in our careers and personal lives. To more than a little extent, we were growing up together. In our 20s we were just babies.

After a death, people always pepper their remembrances with statements about the deceased's smile, about their laugh. This friend of mine will be no exception: he brought good cheer, kindness, and a smile to every goddamn interaction ever to the point where it really was defining about many people's experience of him. Even when faced with his own or others' pain, there was an essential warmth and kind love that shone through.

When he brought home his daughter from Romania, we raised our kids together. In many respects I was his sidekick as much as he was mine; I think he admired and learned from me almost as much as I from him. I did some of the thinking deeply about things and he did a lot of the teaching me what a truly open heart was, about acceptance and listening and gentleness. He taught me a kind of zen, a kind of true presence, and literally the art of motorcycle maintenance.

My children looked on him as an avuncular figure and came to assume his presence at any event of significance. My daughter recently bought a bike with the assumption he'd be a significant part of teaching her to ride. He was a more skilled rider than I am, after all, and the classes and certifications only teach you so much.

As friends sometimes do over the scale of multiple decades we drifted a little for a year or two at a time. All the same the tie didn't sever or fade -- we just had other shit going on. At least I did, sometimes. I knew he'd always be there and I hope he believed the inverse deeply in his essence. This man was more than once the hero of my story.

A big rig ate him outside of Fresno on the way back from visiting his daughter in southern California for the first time in a few years.
posted by majick at 7:11 AM on October 8, 2022 [39 favorites]

majick, thanks for sharing that amazing reminiscence. Your friend sounds like he was remarkable. I’m sorry for your loss.
posted by cheapskatebay at 7:15 AM on October 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

Adso of Melk from The Name of the Rose.
posted by Stanczyk at 8:39 AM on October 8, 2022 [6 favorites]

I'm The Guy In The Chair, like Oracle.
posted by SPrintF at 10:30 AM on October 8, 2022

I'm sorry, majick. That sounds like an exceptional friendship. Don't worry about derailing anything, there's always time to talk about love and grief.

I'm the sidekick who will fix you a cocktail and then debrief with you the latest drama in your life. I love the cozy feeling of a good long natter.

Speaking of cozy, I recently came across a woman whose nickname is Cozy and thought that was the most perfect name ever. I want it.
posted by HotToddy at 10:56 AM on October 8, 2022 [6 favorites]

When I traveled around the world in 2008, in Cappadocia I found lodgings in the Köse Pension. Staying with the cozy, when I finally reached the blue city of Jodhpur I stayed at the Cosy Guest House. But any talk of sidekicks is now short-circuited in my mind due to the fate of IncrediBoy.
posted by Rash at 11:32 AM on October 8, 2022

HotToddy, since you are already the bearer of Most Cozy Metafilter Username in my mind, I think such a rechristening would be very fitting :)

majick, I’m so sorry for your loss.
posted by eirias at 12:37 PM on October 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

majick, I am so sorry for your loss. I also appreciate everything you have written about your friend. Thank you for sharing that with us.

I’m just going to say that I am essentially a sidekick these days to my grandchildren. Mrs. Peel as played by Diana Rigg in the avengers on television was fabulous and the woman I wanted to grow up to be. Was she a sidekick? I never thought so.

Personally, I would be very happy to be Queen of a small and worthy kingdom. I got to go to Prague recently, for the first time ever. I would very happily say yes to reigning over that delightful city.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:40 PM on October 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

I serve as Mr. Mundane's ("Not too hot, not too cold; Mr. Mundane's neither loud nor bold") sidekick Beige Boy; I oversee his minions, the Monotonoids.* Signature quote: "Meh."

*It's a rather boring job, though I'd never mention it
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:05 PM on October 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

majick, we just met today at Alex’s memorial (this is Gwinn, David O’s partner). What a beautiful tribute to Alex - he was everything you say and more. Although I knew him for only three years he had a profound effect on my life and the trajectory of my relationship with David. I’d only been dating David for a short time, and one night when he and Leslie came over for dinner, I was standing in the kitchen and Alex came in to chat (read: get me to make him another margarita) and he told me “I told David I think you’re THE ONE. Every other woman he’s dated he would always say ‘I like her… but…’ — but with you there are no ‘buts’!!!” Him telling me that gave me the confidence to not be afraid to open my heart — which is how he lived his life as well. Generous, open hearted, no BS, and would do anything he could for those he loved. I became very close to him and Leslie during the pandemic (they came over for dinner every week) and it’s incomprehensible to me we’ll never see that big shit-eating grin or hear that laugh again.

Anyway, thank you for writing this. Everyone else - sorry for the derail! It’s been an emotional day, what can I say… \_(ツ)_/¯
posted by hapax_legomenon at 2:26 PM on October 8, 2022 [21 favorites]

we just met today at Alex’s memorial

Gwinn, it was lovely to finally meet you. You have figured in many a story. It's wonderful to discover, too, that you've been a mefite all along. That alone makes you sure to be THE ONE.

We're home safe. You do the same, if we don't see you before you head out.

Everyone else: thank you. A ton. There's a very real reason I came here at 6:30 in the morning on such a day, before I even put on hard pants.
posted by majick at 2:54 PM on October 8, 2022 [10 favorites]

I was the youngest in my cohort of siblings and cousins, so I always had to be the minor characters whenever we played. When my sister and cousin were the Bionic Woman and the Six Million Dollar Man, I was always Oscar Goldman. You would think that would be me giving orders and sending them on missions, but they weren’t having any of that. So I spent most of my time at my desk, taking phone calls from Congressmen and applying for grants for my cool projects.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:12 PM on October 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

I remember Oscars office safe. He had a helicopter and wore big framey sunglasses.

Captain Arthur J. M. Hastings, OBE.
or Sancho Panza' Rucio Dapple.
posted by clavdivs at 7:34 PM on October 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

I am “the person behind the screen” or multiple screens probably. I can make searches for obscure knowledge like nobody’s business, have saved info to have at my fingertips, know how to manipulate data to extract trends or outliers, and can just run a bunch of stuff in the background to deliver what might be needed. I can also do this via mobile so I am not stuck all day inside the cave or fortress or whatever. Not sooo different that what I actually do today which I find enjoyable :)
posted by alchemist at 7:48 PM on October 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

I always felt like I was the Judy Greer character or the characters that Lizzy Caplan played every now and then -- notable but always the best friend that had some weird-but-charming quirk and no real story arc of her own.

Or, well, when I watched it again a few years ago, I felt like Janeane Garofalo's character in Reality Bites, where she's the only actual grown-up in the room. Like everyone else around her is messy and she's the only one who has it together.

I may be a combination of both of those, though. Quirky but also with it.
posted by edencosmic at 8:28 PM on October 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

I aspire to Archie Goodwin, sidekick to Nero Wolfe. "If you can't take it easy, take it hard."
posted by brookeb at 10:16 PM on October 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

As I said to PJ Harvey, 'I'll be your side-kick pick picker, if you'll be my plucky lucky plucker'. But my luck ran out between Sheela-na-gigs when I didn't pick up her pick up quick enough.
posted by Thella at 10:40 PM on October 8, 2022

When I was a kid, my invisible friends were the Beatles. I was like Mal Evans, their best friend. We hung out all the time and I was always in the studio to hand them a drink or another guitar or a pick or sort out a wire. They talked to me when they were blue and I kept all their secrets.

I saw the relationship that they had with Mal in A Hard Day's Night and envisioned myself in the role.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:41 PM on October 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

As I said to PJ Harvey, 'I'll be your side-kick pick picker, if you'll be my plucky lucky plucker'.

I'm not a pheasant-plucker, but a pheasant-plucker's son.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:27 AM on October 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Happy weekend, fam!

First, calling us "fam" made my heart smile. It hasn't been so very long ago that things had been sometimes adversial between mods and members. I have definitely noticed a change. (Status updates on MeTa with no negative comments!) Definitely feel this is the fam, and definitely neat to see that stated, even/especially if it was casual.

To the question, my life is being the sidekick. Or, being in a support position. 100% cool with that. I don't need glory. I love to help others help people better. I wouldn't even be Q in the Bond books/movies. I would be the guy who makes sure the computers, electrical, etc. all work so Q can do what he needs to do to let Bond do what he needs to do.

Surgeons can't work without nurses, techs to sterilize equipment, janitors to clean their offices, etc. I am more than happy to be somewhere in that chain. I don't need the glory of being "that guy". Just making the world a better place is glory enough.

(Awesome question, btw. Thanks for asking.)
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:50 AM on October 9, 2022 [3 favorites]

I am somewhere along the Pepper Potts-Hermione continuum.

I am a really great second in command. I often have really great ideas, but lack the energy or the specific know-how to best implement them (thus my need for a Tony Stark, or, I suppose, HP type leader to bring the energy).

I'm cool with this because I have often had someone like this in my life, ie, my husband. we make such a great team and get amazing things done together. but he struggles with organization and seeing the forest and not just hyper-focusing on that one tree.
posted by supermedusa at 1:09 PM on October 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Abner Perry to David Innes.
posted by one more day at 2:58 PM on October 9, 2022

There's a motorbike I've long daydreamed about owning, a Ural. It's one of the few motorbikes still manufactured with an integral sidecar, and there's a two wheel-drive variant with a drive axle to the sidecar wheel (to make God's own off-roader). It's the most up-to-date version of the BMW R71, which was shamelessly design-copied by the Soviets. Alas, it's still Russian-manufactured and therefore ethically out of the question, but a wonderful concept.

Time for some other manufacturer to step up to the sidecar challenge...
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:36 PM on October 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

majick and hapax_legomenon, I'm sorry for your loss.

I also had a tough day/week dealing with the daily stresses and heartbreaks of caring for elderly family members. It's so tough because I never know the right way to be and i second-guess myself all the time. Whatever direction I choose, I feel guilty and like a bad person, and the irony is, I'm trying to help people I love, which bad people tend not to do!

When I was younger I took on a sidekick role to my friends - I tended to provide a listening ear and emotional support to people with much more eventful lives. But I soon found this was not a rewarding mode of friendship for me and I've since moved away from it. If I were a fictional sidekick, I'd probably be the solid, reliable friend the main character went to for emotional support and practical advice; but I can see our relationship having an arc wherein they realise that I don't just exist to support them.
posted by unicorn chaser at 10:52 AM on October 10, 2022 [3 favorites]

Fiasco da Gama:

The Unnecessary Express

"Two men, one Ural sidecar, and a nonstop, 32-hour, record-breaking ride from Seattle to Los Angeles. For no good reason whatsoever."
posted by bendy at 8:29 PM on October 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

All the Hong Kong Cavaliers and Blue Blaze Regulars in "Buckaroo Banzai."
posted by Marky at 5:11 PM on October 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

Rasputin famously had dry skin, as a result of which he was a lover of the Russian creme.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:31 PM on October 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

All the Hong Kong Cavaliers and Blue Blaze Regulars in "Buckaroo Banzai".

Yes! I'd be the sidekick with specialist knowledge who can't be arsed to take the lead on anything because I'm lazy.
posted by mollweide at 6:42 PM on October 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

Maybe this sounds weird, but I am trying to learn to be a side character. My personality and my ADHD (verbal H) cause me to land in leadership roles. I started a new volunteer position a year ago, and I've been working on staying a sidekick.

As a sidekick I try to encourage and support others instead of stepping in to do tasks. I know it's healthier for both sides, but it's hard and I'm not always successful. I'm not sure I answered the prompt, but thanks for listening.
posted by obol at 9:59 PM on October 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

If I'm being honest, I'm probably Martin Starr's character from Silicon Valley.

In other news: four days ago, it was 80 degrees. As I type this, it's snowing. :|
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:43 AM on October 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

Heh. This is not especially theoretical; I am a natural sideman by inclination. I am a reasonably decent lead guitarist who is always happier onstage playing bass; a perfectly good public speaker who is much more fulfilled as a speechwriter; I’ve worked in a restaurant kitchen without having the slightest inclination to be front of house; and I have had roles as an actor but I’m much happier being in the Special Thanks than in front of the camera or in the spotlight.

Dunno what this says about me, but it suits me well. I’ve always admire versatility more than virtuosity.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:20 PM on October 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

I've been a sidekick for too much of my life. Give me, like, Tom Bombadil or an Ent: off doing their own thing that happens to intersect with someone else's.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:18 AM on October 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

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