It took 47 years but I finally won a popularity contest!

May 6, 2011


I interrupt my regularly scheduled post (which was to be an account of how I came to love salads so) to gloat. There’s no sugar-coating this—I WON!

I have never been part of any “in” crowd. Every now and then I’ve gotten to the cusp, but I can’t honestly say that I ever completely broke through. That’s not to say I haven’t had my groups of friends. Of course I have. But if you know me away from here (or even, possibly, if you’ve been reading along for any amount of time), you’ll know that I mostly don’t give a flying fuck what other people think, so that’s probably a good indication that I’m not going to shmooze my way into very many cliques.

One time during my senior year in high school, I tried, sort of. The school was large enough to have both cheerleaders and a dance team and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to try out for it. My two or three friends and I worked up our routine and performed it on the day. When we were finished, I took off with some other college friends who had come to watch. I got to school the next day only to be greeted with queries of why I had left early. It seems I had been unaware that there was a second part to the try-outs. I did not rise in social standing, not that I was particularly bothered about it. I went back to band and every thing was as it was before.

For the last four years I have felt vicariously popular. I’ve mentioned on other occasions that my friend Rob left me here in Minneapolis for the sunshine of Silicon Valley. He works at Yahoo! Inc. and has fancy friends who work at other high-faluting companies or invent things or start start-ups. They like me (I think) (I hope)(don’t answer). This makes me feel good, even thought they’re half a continent away.

The context tonight is close to home—bowling. I think one of the reasons why I enjoy my leagues is because the people in them like me. I wouldn’t say people liking me is important to me, but every now and then I ponder why I do enjoy it so much and that’s a large reason I come up with. I do alright with the execution of the sport, which helps, but I’m not an elite bowler (averages over 210 or 220). I’m just good enough (average in the 190s, usually) to hang with the crowd I hang with.

A few weeks ago the league secretary asked if I’d be interested in filling the vacant vice presidency for next year. That’s not as important as it sounds. The secretary does all the heavy lifting and if he happens to be absent the president fills in. The vice president is actually only third in line. Also, because it is a mixed league at least one officer must be a woman, and since I am one of only a handful of women in the league, I am an instant forerunner by default.

My gut response was to laugh in his face because I shirk responsibility, however slight, whenever possible (even though I’m good at being in charge). But after a while I realized that I was flattered that he had asked me, so I said sure, I’d do it. Tonight at the banquet, when it came time to (re-)elect officers, my and two other names were put forward. Two others? So much for feeling hand-picked. But I immediately understood that it was a good thing after all—because it would be a popularity contest! And I felt a high degree of confidence that I would prevail.

The nomination was opened and from all around the room I heard “Kelly,” “Kelly,” “Kelly.” I didn’t hear one “Julie” or one “Ann.” I felt smug. And popular. And good.

So I can’t actually lay claim to any special amount of social apathy, loath as I am to admit it, and I probably sound rather shallow at the moment. The affirmation of my peers is important to me after all. 

I just won’t go around admitting it in public.

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