OXFORD, OH–Though neither has openly acknowledged it, Marc Morrell and Justin Rotham, longtime best friends and sophomores at Miami University of Ohio, each regard the other as a sidekick.
"Me and Marc, we're like Batman and Robin," said Rotham, 19, who met Morrell when both were freshmen at Canton (OH) McKinley High School. "Wherever I lead, I can count on him to follow."
Morrell expressed similar affection for his sidekick.
"Justin and I make a great team," Morrell said. "No matter what crazy plan I come up with, I always know that he's gonna be right there to back me up. If this were Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I'd be Ferris and he'd be Cameron Frye."
Added Morrell: "Chuck D and Flavor Flav, Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon, me and Justin... standing beside every great man is a great sidekick."
Like many best friends, Morrell and Rotham have similar tastes, sharing an affection for the The Simpsons, Kurt Vonnegut, and the BBC series Black Adder.
"I love Rowan Atkinson as Black Adder," Rotham said. "I can't even watch Mr. Bean. It's okay, but it's not like Atkinson's in his prime anymore."
"I'm not surprised he'd say that," Morrell said later. "He'd never even heard of Black Adder before I got him into it. Now, he's the world's greatest expert on it. Like I said, wherever Marc leads, Justin follows."
While Morrell claims superior knowledge of Black Adder, Rotham says he's the authority when it comes to music.
"I'm the one who got him to stop listening to all that Top 40 crap and turned him on to electronica and trance stuff like John Digweed," Rotham said. "Now, he compares everything to Digweed, and I have to set him straight when it's more like Paul Oakenfold. He's still learning."
The duo's mutual sidekicksmanship often manifests itself during road trips.
"Whenever we drive down to Cincinnati to see bands, I take the wheel," Morrell said. "Me being the leader, not to mention the one with the car, I'm always the one who drives."
Rotham, however, sees it differently.
"As the man with the plan, I choose to take the role of navigator on road trips," he said. "Marc couldn't find his ass with a homing device, so that means I've got to man the maps. And, let's face it, even though Sulu pilots the Enterprise, he still takes orders from Kirk. I am captain, and Marc is my first lieutenant."
Though Morrell and Rotham generally enjoy having a sidekick, both acknowledged that it occasionally has its downside.
"Justin's a great guy and all, but sometimes it's tough to make my moves when he's always hanging on my sleeve," Morrell said. "Like, last weekend, we were at this house party, and I was trying to chat up this cute girl Amy from my psych class, and he wouldn't leave my side for a second."
Rotham expressed similar frustration over his friend's reliance on him in social situations. "If not for me, he'd never even talk to girls," Rotham said. "He counts on me to steer the ladies his way. Usually, I'm happy to, but every now and then it'd be nice if he could make things happen on his own."
Neither Morrell nor Rotham are dating, but both expressed confidence that they have some "hot leads." Those who know the pair, however, have their doubts.
"Those guys are sort of cool in their own way, but mostly they're dorks," said Renee Callahan, a friend of the two. "I mean, they go everywhere together, have all these retarded inside jokes, and even dress almost identically. And they definitely share a lack of success with the ladies. I don't know why they don't just admit they're in love with each other."
Morrell and Rotham concede that the affection is mutual, though not equal.
"I love Justin like a brother," Morrell said, "but he definitely needs me a lot more than I need him."
"Without me, Marc would be totally lost," Rotham said. "It's like if this were Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I'd be Ferris and he'd be Cameron."