There are many ways to judge a person’s popularity.
You can count Facebook friends, Twitter and Instagram followers or video views. In the entertainment business, critics are more or less paid to judge others on their personality, likability, clothing or art. I went home for the Thanksgiving holiday and after eating more stuffing than I should have, I ended up looking through some high school yearbooks with my mom.
After each senior class’s section, a staple in yearbook production is the senior superlative section when students are polled on what their fellow classmates are the best (or worst) at doing.
There’s the requisite titles, like most athletic, most popular or most likely to succeed.
There are also more unique ones, fitted exclusively for those one or two students.
Biggest whiners. Worst drivers. Blondest. Most likely to show up late for their own senior recognition soccer game.
Then it hit me.
As I made my way to peruse turkey leftovers, I realized the real way to judge a person’s popularity isn’t by Internet likes or friends, it’s how many pictures of you are on your family’s refrigerator.
I’m the third of three children, so there are already fewer photos of me in existence. I complain about this fact often as the forgotten third child.
My sister is the oldest and was an only child for nearly five years, so she naturally had the most pictures growing up. Then came my brother. Then me.
I always polled last in fridge photos. I’ve counted before. It actually took until my brother went off to college for me to take over the leader board.
I counted then too, taking note of every time my shining face showed up next to magnets older than I am with snarky sayings like “I’m not deaf, I’m ignoring you.” For the record, if you’re looking for a saying to sum up being the baby of the family, that might be a good starting point.
My reign on top, I can sadly report, was a short one, which can mostly be attributed to the addition of another dog and, eventually, grandchildren.
Looking at the fridge now, I’m led to believe my whining over the years is the careful result of each child featured in the same amount of photos. However, the trend is continuing at the grandchild level. Grandchild No. 1 (as in born first and not a ranking) shows up twice, while baby brother is only up once, a fact I’ll probably annoy my mom with at some point this long weekend.
Unfortunately, I know his plight all too well. At least he’ll have somebody to sympathize with growing up.
(Pete Sirianni is the digital editor at the New Castle News and baby of the family. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)