Foreign sidekicks had a good run

October 30, 2011|By Matt Kuttan, For RedEye

It's getting hard out there for a foreign guy.

There used to be a time when my biggest problem on weekends was choosing which house party to go to or which dinner invitation to accept. Not anymore.

Let me give you some background. After coming to America as a college student from—wait, where am I from?—I ended up taking a job in Chicago. Rather than wallow in Midwestern isolation, I soon was overjoyed to notice a pattern of LeBron-like demand for my presence at after-work events, happy hours and guys' nights out.

Back then, the foreign sidekick had the run of the town because we were considered safe, fun and distinct. I'd pass another expat guy making an attractive blonde laugh or exchanging baseball stats with bleacher bums at Wrigley Field and give a secret nod of acknowledgment. "I see you. And props, my brother." Kinda like guys on motorcycles do when they pass each other.

While we were almost universally embraced—fairly or not—my type did especially well with certain groups.

>>The super-hot loner women. You know the type: the ones who other women were afraid to hang out with because they'd steal their man. They'd hang out with us and take us along when they wanted to shop for lingerie.

>>The good-looking jock who wanted a charismatic wingman to break the ice before swooping in for the kill at a crowded Lincoln Park bar.

>>The pierced and tattooed artsy types who wanted a guy to talk world politics with by day and to dance with on the speakers at Neo by night.

>>And of course the North Shore charity events, where a token person of color was a must-have accessory.

But that glamorous lifestyle is no more. The foreign sidekick has gone the way of the dodo, crowded out by the rise of another minority group: gay men.

We used to be these guys—the ones who had no filter and said off-the-cuff, obnoxious things that had people clasping their sides in laughter.

And this change isn't happening just at parties—it's infiltrated the media. Sure, various foreigners still are on TV as they were in the past decades, but where are the trusty sidekicks, the Balkis and the Fezes of prime time? They've been replaced by adorable couples such as Mitchell and Cameron on "Modern Family" and the sexually ambiguous Sheldon on "The Big Bang Theory."

What happened to us? We got too big. Fez—I mean Wilmer Valderrama—started dating women like Mandy Moore and Lindsay Lohan. Harold and Kumar were the stars of their movies, not tag-alongs. We mainstreamed, and America got bored of us.

I guess we've had our fun. Now it's time for another minority group to take the reins. Enjoy the lingerie shopping, fellas. I see you. And props, my brothers.

MATT KUTTAN IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR.

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