Michael Battalio

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Unwanted, newfound popularity

It's been a while. Sorry, I have no other excuse than being lazy. Before I go on with this entry, let me say, I'm not trying to brag. There is a subtle difference between what I'm about to do and bragging. (I just don't know what it is.)

I've never really been popular. I've been tolerable and oftentimes downright agreeable but never popular...until now. Sure, this is only transitive; the effects are wearing off as I type. And as soon as I have to use my authority, any shred of popularity I have left will be gone. But the fact remains, right now, I'm in. This all because of one little (comparatively speaking) thing. I'm going to be one of the drum majors at MSU next year. (Actually, it's funny. I've been unpopular because I'm dorky, but being drum major [arguably the epitome of dorkiness] has made me popular. That, I know, has to be irony at its finest.) I don't really find my newfound position the success of a lifetime. (I hope.) I didn't even find it that difficult to get. It's just something I've managed to do with my life. But my family and friends act like I just became the President (not that that office really means anything anymore). Everyone has made a huge deal about it. In effect my approval rating has to be over 50% (the other 49% being Ole Miss fans), which I take to mean I'm popular. That's a loose definition of the word, but it'll probably be the closest I'll ever be to whatever popularity actually is.

I have to say I don't like it, popularity I mean. Don't get me wrong, I like attention just as much as the next narcissist, but at some point the attention smothers you. It prevents you from being who you are. I can't just brush off every person who gives me a copy of the article from the newspaper or calls the house to congratulate me. I have to modestly accept the kind word. It's not that I'm ungrateful. It's just not that big a deal to me and, consequently, shouldn't be a big deal to anyone else. (Not that the position isn't a big deal, the position itself is big.) I'm happy everyone's happy for me, but I'm sure everyone else has better things to do than offer me praise. (Yes, I'm being modest; mark it in your calendar. That was this year's quota.)

I'm used to being myself, and that usual self isn't very popular. My usual self is used to constantly fighting my way up the popularity ladder, not standing above the sticker that warns you not to step beyond the next to last rung. There's a small part of me that feels pressured to fit into some sort of popularity stereotype. (Don't ask me to define that.) And I don't like it. I enjoy being the Trekie who gardens and plays cello in between managing his stock portfolio while sipping amontillado sherry. (I could go on, but you get the point.) I like being different, and everyone liking me (except the Ole Miss fans) worries me. It means I have nowhere to go but down. I can only hope that whoever is holding the ladder doesn't get distracted by one of the cheerleaders.
2003-2016 Michael Battalio (michael[at]battalio.com)