I was not the most popular child in my class. In fact, I wasn't in the popular circle at all. I was way, way down the popularity totem pole and I knew it.
But what I couldn't figure out was why the popular kids were popular. I mean, from where I stood (way, way down on the totem pole) it appeared that nobody liked the popular kids. So how could someone be "popular" (i.e. widely liked) if most people secretly despised him?
Leave it to my 11-yr.-old son to answer this question for me. He's at the age where popularity is becoming a very real concept. He's not in school, but he plays on a basketball team with kids from all around town and he -- like all the boys -- are well aware of who's popular and who's not.
The difference, my son said, between the popular boys and the unpopular boys is that the popular ones have power and can get people to do things.
Ah-ha!, I thought. I remembered hearing about a books some years ago, Queen Bees and Wannabees, that dealt with female popularity. Queen Bees, it said, are usually attractive, charismatic and skillful in maniuplation.
Seems the same things apply to popular boys.
To my son, the concept of someone being popular but not well-liked makes perfect sense. The popular boy might be powerful and respected, but deep down, the boys he's manipulating may not like him all that much after all.