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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Popular girls have all the luck ... with help from rich daddies

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By Keiko Ohnuma
Advertiser Staff Writer

I forgot about her until I started spending time with a 13-year-old and heard the term again.

The popular girl.

Remember her? In the Midwestern town where I grew up, she was a fresh-faced, well-tended, clearly-Daddy's-girl with a rich Daddy.

I didn't put it all together until much later, how her daddy's job and mama's friends, the big house and the right church, went hand in hand with "popularity."

To me, the popular girls were simply blessed at birth with perfection.

Perfect clothes.

Perfect, shiny hair and pearly teeth.

Perfect body proportions.

They were mostly good, but when they were bad, it was stylish. They got wasted in outfits from Marshall Field & Co., the kind you could wear to dinner at a country club.

They dated football players. They traveled in packs of beautiful people just like them. Everything they did was hot talk.

Like I remember one day being suddenly blessed to walk home with Patty Cline i one of the popular Cline twins i and one of my scrungy greaser girlfriends with the torn jeans, who lit a cigarette.

Patty didn't want to appear to be a snob, so she said she didn't smoke because her daddy had promised to buy the twins cars at age 16 if they didn't start.

Didn't every girl long to be popular? Some claimed not to aspire to it. But I did.

Of course, I knew I didn't have the right clothes, the right parents, the right face or the right breeding to have the tooth fairy come for me too.

But maybe if I hung around the popular girls, walked home with them, some of that popularity would rub off on me too.

I would dump by best girlfriend to hang out with the popular girl. And did.

I thought about being popular every day of my life until graduation. Then high school ended and I left that little town.

In our 20th high school reunion book, the popular girls' names float up, perfectly unchanged, still leading cheers at the game, their pompoms shimmering in the breeze. Most of them married and settled near that little town, married a guy who was popular — and had two or three kids who are probably popular, too.

I don't envy them.

In fact, of all the girls I knew in high school, there are none I could say I really envy. Every life has its ups and downs. Everybody struggles. And after 20 years, the aftermath begins to show.

But I still see envy flash up among us women as the ghost of the popular girl. It isn't so much another woman's accomplishments or possessions or skill that arouses it.

It's the sense she didn't have to earn it.

If only I had her luck ...

I would have my pick of the men.

I would have a nice car, nice house, good job, long legs.

I wouldn't have to go out and catfight, spend miserable nights at home, fret in the bathroom at work, have too many drinks.

Instead, something like a rich daddy's love would shower over me and make me perfect — popular and beloved by all.

A princess.

Isn't that what every girl wants to be?

Reach Keiko Ohnuma at kohnuma@honoluluadvertiser.com