Before the Notice, only two things mattered in a teenager’s social life; looking good and being popular. Sounds simple, right? Not so fast there, Mr. or Ms. Clearly-I’m-Popular. To look good, you had to have two things; good looks (duh) and good cloths. You could be born with good looks (lucky you), apply enough make-up to fake good looks (talking to you ladies), be so good at sports that people mistook you for having good looks (talking to the males now), or be so grossly rich and funny that your peers overlook your Elephant Man-like deformities. But since we’re talking about teenagers here (aka social velociraptors) that last one is really, really unlikely.
Now, to have good cloths you had to have money and a sense of style. Teenagers (especially male teenagers) rarely have either. They are therefore forced to rely on their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, paper routes, pet trafficking, internet scams, or black market organ sales for money. To acquire a sense of style the would-be Prom King or Queen must turn to teenage Pop Culture Oracles (internet, movies, television, etc.), older and more style conscious siblings, or whatever fashion sense they can absorb through social osmosis.
Not as easy as you thought, right? Still interested in being popular? Then let’s recap: having good looks is the prerequisite for being popular. Having good cloths is also required but might not get you to Popularity Nirvana by itself. Having a lot of money helps get both but is not an absolute guarantee of popularity. Having all three; good looks, good cloths, and lots of money is the Trifecta of Good Fortune. God clearly has smiled upon you and guaranteed you popularity.
I was not good looking.
I did not have good cloths.
My parents were not rich.
So, in short, I was not popular.
But after the Notice, those of us still slogging our way through the Teenage Proving Grounds of junior high and high school found out that being popular might not be the Sole Defining Purpose of our young lives that we were taught to believe.
In fact, the Notice showed us that the really important things in life happened out in the adult world while we were playing around in a safe sandbox as we prepared for adulthood. What would happen over the next few weeks would force us to grow up far faster than we ever had imagined.
Let’s start at the beginning.