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The Stages of Fame
by K. A. Laity

Obscurity: The default starting point of most careers unless the offspring of famous, wealthy or royal people (a lustre prone to tarnishing in the absence of additional polish).

Mild (Ascendant): Strangers do not know you, but friends begin to become intimidated by the first glow of your growing shininess.

Local (Ascendant): Strangers know you, but only within a modest radius. Friends joke about your ubiquity and grow nettled whenever you mention your latest success.

Regional (Ascendant): People recognize you unless they are former friends. You remain surprised but delighted by this.

National (Ascendant): People you've never met talk about you in places you have never been. Horrible lies by people you do not know distress you and you become appalled at the effort put into tearing you down by folks whose acquaintance you are unlikely to ever make. Friends offer some grudging sympathy.

International (Ascendant): Accolades war with attacks to garner the most attention from yourself and the rest of the world. Words and actions attributed to you mystify but you find yourself incapable of resisting the fawning hordes and various temptations of excess offered as you find the whole rigmarole exhausting. Friends are not possible.

Tipping Point: May last only a moment or for several months; people are as inclined to despise as to adore you, and do so by turns. You are conscious of the balance, frightened you cannot maintain it, even more so that you will. The suspense is terrible, but it will not last.

International (Descendant): You become the focus of comedians and would-be comedians, as well as quiz shows but the general public begins to look over your shoulder for the next big thing.

Regional (Descendant): The nation loses interest in you seemingly at once, although national organizations may hope for your presence to add a modest sheen to public events. Friends nod somewhat coldly but make excuses when invited to drinks.

Local (Descendant): The city paper still uses your name at the drop of a hat to add any lingering sparkle to small events. Friends greet you warmly, smirk over drinks, delighted to be seen with you and described as old acquaintances by the local press. Your children despise you, but this is normal for their age.

Obscurity: Friends delight in your presence as proof they were right not to try. You a) drink far more than is recommended or b) don't drink at all to retain a dignity in hopes that a reunion tour/new book/rediscovery brings you back to national prominence. You lie awake nights, wondering what it all meant.