Just returned from the spelling bee at #2 Son’s school, where he went out in a late round by missing the word “anchovy.” He had never seen it in the singular. It was a tough round in which all the remaining 8th-graders went out. My ex-husband nodded toward a very young-looking speller still in it and said, “I never expected him to last.” I said, “Are you kidding? I knew he was trouble from the start. He’s a dead calm 6th grader with nothing to lose!”

The bee loomed large for #2 son because #1 Son was the City Champion in 8th grade. He lasted almost to the end of the County Bee, when he got the one word in the whole bee he didn’t know how to spell and guessed wrong. It was “croup,” an ailment he had suffered as a small child, I noted. I remember sitting in the audience, watching him search for it, thinking “Rhymes with group, rhymes with group!” Ever since then, little brother has been hoping to equal or better him.

But we all have gifts differing, as they say. #1 Son was a flop at both instruments he tried to learn, while #2 is rehearsing for the District Band Festival and playing in the select Portland Youth Wind Ensemble. He plays clarinet, bass clarinet and a little piano. He’s great with animals and volunteers at a veterinary clinic after school. And he’s really a wonderful person, too.

None of this will matter today, of course.

Anchovy, sheesh. So small and smelly and distasteful and disastrous. We hates them, precious.