I was an unpopular kid. Deeply unpopular. So unpopular that merely being in my proximity without immediate loud protest of the fact would endanger the status of the proximate kid. So unpopular that kids from four grades down knew my name, who I was, and that they needed to stay away from me or suffer.
Why exactly I became so much of a pariah, I have little idea. Middle school was the worst of it (5th to 8th in our system). By High School I had become merely invisible, which was a great relief. If I had no friends except my boyfriend (a charming fellow who called me "Hippo Hips" and reminded me constantly that no other boy in the school would talk to me voluntarily), at least I also had no tormentors. When I hit college, I began to find friends (most of whom are still friends today), who took me as I was, and from there I never looked back. If I still didn't understand popularity, I didn't really care anymore.
Still, those early lessons are ingrained, and ingrained deeply. So you can imagine my shock when Tuesday I overheard the two boys (pre-teen 1st and 2nd gups) whispering back and forth. "Why do you get to stand next to Cindy? I wanted to stand next to Cindy!" and the reply "Because I'm senior, and Cindy is cool."