WASHINGTON, D.C. — A gray couch sat on the side.
Pulled back from the lights, it wasn’t meant to be flashy. Placed on the left side of the Scripps National Spelling Bee stage, it was a stark contrast to the gold trophy cup that shined from the stage’s right.
The couch needed to be there, but no one wanted to sit on it.
Sitting on what’s known as the “crying couch” meant you spelled a word wrong, that your time was up, that your chance at the national title was gone. It was a place to wait for your parents. A place to absorb the shock. And, yeah, a place to cry…