I hate that Charlie Daniels song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”. Not because I dislike Georgia, the fiddle or spurn the Devil (OK, if my pastor is reading, I do spurn the Devil). It’s more because it reminds me of a humilating time in Junior High.
The story: I used to go on vacation with my friend Shelly’s family – her Mom, her little brother, Shelly and me. We did several beach vacations and traveled well together. Once, in Myrtle Beach, Shelly and I, all of 12 or 13 years old, met two similarly-aged boys on the beach. This, mind you, was after Shelly and I picked some lovely sea oats as souveniers and packed them in our suitcase – only to learn that there were signs EVERYWHERE indicating that this was, indeed, a crime. In my mind, we wore Bogie hats and trench coats for a day as a disguise. Not true, but really amps up the memories.
These two boys, whose names have disappeared in the fog of years, approached us (read: Shelly) on the beach. There was a taller, thinner dark-haired boy, we will call Jake and another, rounder, red-headed boy, we will call Roy. I called him Mike, not his name, whatever it was, because he reminded me of this kid, Mike, from Zoom. Remember on Zoon, they’d play an intro video where they would say “I’m so-and-so” and do something clever? Mike played the picture, catcher and batter in his intro. Clever. Oh, and he was short, round and freckled. I digress.
We came up with some non-plan Plan to meet up later.
Here’s where things went wrong. Turns out both boys liked Shelly. I’m not sure they’d worked out their alpha male status before we met, so we had to witness some embarrassing, stunted jockeying when they arrived on the beach. Though not true, how I envision it is the two boys at Shelly’s feet and me lounging sullenly on a chair close by with Shelly shouting over to me to keep me engaged in the conversation. Yes, folks, I was the chubbyfunnysidekick here.
Jake eventually won alpha status and at some point he and Shelly decided to take a walk. Remember, this was before crazy people, so there were no red flags. “Sure, go ahead,” I said through my teeth. “Leave me with this freckled, rotund guy,” I said through my head. Guess what? She did leave me.
It all went further downhill after that. Roy was ticked. I was horribly shy and awkward. In a moment, I too was ticked. Roy talked incessantly about Shelly. Asking questions about Shelly. Making observations about Shelly. And then he just flat out said it. He went there “I wish I was with Shelly, right now. She’s so much prettier”.
I was dumbfounded. Then I was steaming mad. Suddenly, someone’s nearby radio starts playing The Devil Went Down To Georgia. Roy suddenly got animated and seemed to forget his rude comments. “I love this song. Don’t you?” He literally jumped up and started clogging in the sand. Really? And *I* am not worthy. Frickin’ Beach-Hill-Jack. He was singing at the top of his lungs. I was cringing. During the heavy fast instrumental portion, when he was air-fiddling with eyes closed, I sulked away quietly, punching the air, spitting and so sad. I ended up riding up and down in the elevator for an hour since I couldn’t go back to the room and Shelly’s mom without Shelly. Remember, this was pre-cellphone, so I just had to wait. This was also clearly an age when riding an elevator was entertainment.
Shelly returned with a smile and freshly kissed lips. “Soooo, how did it go for you,” she asked expectantly. “Oh me? Well, me and the Devil, well we apparently took our fiddles and went to Georgia.”
The 1980s, when I was coming up in high school, had icons like Madonna, Demi Moore, Heather Locklear and Phoebe Cates. Thank God the 80s also introduced us to Wendie Jo Sperber. Thank goodness.
From the moment those two Bosom Buddies walked through the sprinklers, I was hooked. And then into the frame walked Amy, the co-worker with the crush on the cute resident co-worker in drag. Suffice it to say, I felt a kinship to this character. Little did I know that my future would hold too many encounters with unattainable cute boys and, on a separate note, a chorus line of men in women’s clothing.
But separate from the poor judgment in men or their preference for clothing, I admired Wendie Jo’s character Amy because she was so smart, witty and, well, just regular. She wasn’t glamorous and sometimes she was overlooked for the prettier gals in the story. But no one, not one, was as clever, sarcastic or enlightened as Amy. And Kip and Henry adored and respected her. I’d found my role model.
Thus began my path. My journey toward creating that girl – the street smart, cynical, witty gal-pal. Or, in my terms, the chubby funny sidekick. It’s not a disparaging moniker. In my mind, it’s descriptive. And never intended to provoke anyone to say “you’re not chubby.” (ugh, I hate that). Look, I’m kinda overweight, I’m a bit twisted and I’ve been surrounded by stunning looking friends which translates to men believing I’m either 1) invisible, 2) an uninteresting hologram, or 3) a valet to hold my friend’s coat.
That’s me. Funny Chubby Sidekick. Maybe that’s you too.
As a sidekick, we have the best view of the show. And some fun perspective to share. As a sitcom preview might note: Hilarity ensues. And I thank Wendie Jo Sperber for making people notice the girl to the left of the blonde (guy, girl, or drag Queen).
Let’s hang out together. Some sidekick adventures to come.