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Popularity Contest (about Jeffskla)

In the 5th or 6th grade, my friend Jamie Beerbower and I thought it would be cool to start a student government. We spent weeks drafting intricate plans, which included a constitution and a nifty snack store based on good-behavior points, and secured approval from our teachers to implement it. Although it would have made sense for Jamie and I to run things since we had done all of the planning, we held an open election to appropriately model the democracy in which we lived (probably at our teachers' request). I ran for president against a little 4th grade boy. The way I remember it, this boy had no platform whatsoever, but he was incredibly cute and popular (his father was VP of the junior high). Although my campaign was smart, funny and backed by our plans and a bunch of smart kids (okay, nerds), I lost that election by an enormous landslide. As might be predicted, the government was never implemented, as there was nobody with a vision to drive it.

Of all the knocks I've received in my life, this had the most profound effect. I concluded, at the time, that smart and nerdy could never beat cute and popular. It has taken me 35 years to gradually erode that perception. But although I've learned many ways to be effective without it, I am still in awe of the power of cute and popular.