Friday, July 16, 2010

Which would you choose?

Not too long ago, a friend presented me with a dilemma: would I rather have minions or henchmen?

So let's define both first, to make sure we're all on the same page here.

Minion --a servile dependent, follower, or underling, dependent, hanger-on, sycophant, yes man, toady, hireling, flunky, flatterer

Henchman --a loyal and trusted follower or subordinate, someone who assists in a plot, someone who helps another person commit a crime, collaborator, partner in crime, confederate, accessory

I realize that they're fairly closely related, but to my mind, there are a few key differences. A minion just blithely and blindly does whatever he's told, but doesn't have a great deal of brainpower to think for himself and therefore isn't to be trusted with matters of intellectual import. A henchman, on the other hand, can be dispatched to do serious dirty work that needs doing, but is able to think for himself and doesn't worship the boss fawningly and blindly.

My friend and I took it a step further recently with the idea of one's children as minions. I kind-of like the idea, actually... I've really tried to stress with my kids that they obey me first and ask questions later, or at the very least they give me a "yes ma'am" first before they begin questioning me further. That's sort-of minionish, no?

I think that eventually they should work their way into henchmanship, however. Here I am at forty-three, and if my dad were to call me up and give me an important task, I would put aside everything I was doing and I'd git 'er done to the best of my ability. He doesn't really ever ask anything of me, of course, but if he did, I'd do it. When my grandmother asks me to produce a banner for the family reunion, or to work at scanning old family photographs, I want to do it and do a spectacular job of it for her. That's henchman-level stuff, I think.

There are many days when I look fondly and wistfully toward a future where I have a passel of henchmen... but for now, I'm stuck with mostly mindless minions that are terrific when I need groceries brought in from the car, but who can't be expected to actually put those groceries on the proper shelf or in the refrigerator when they get them inside the house.

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