Susan Boyle has always come second in life.
Second in opportunity. Second, according to those who bullied her in her dismal hometown, in intelligence. And second, one suspects, to the needs of others in her family.
By coming in second in "Britain's Got Talent," however, Boyle got some relief from the frivolous flickers of fame that were burning her very being.
She tossed frumpiness aside, choosing instead to wear the dress of the musical lady she always dreamed of being.
Her eyebrows, still tensely clenched for fear of unwarranted attack from some critic, or perhaps some deranged Englishman, told of her determination to stare down her new surroundings.
They told of her fierce need to quiet every shake and shiver that must have coursed through her body all week.
We had heard that she was breaking down, when it was actually us, or those of us who have heads permanently placed just inside the parts we use for sitting, who were doing the breaking.
Journalists goaded her into reaction. Casual bystanders thought they knew, owned her, or at least had every right to either grab her hem or tear it.
The "Daily Mail" reported that psychiatrists had been counseling her all week.
And then she was supposed to go out and win a talent show that, in her heart, she would have rather have watched in her local pub.
She sang "I Dreamed a Dream" with feeling. Many feelings.
She felt that the opportunity to do what she desperately craved would be forthcoming whether she won in the eyes of the sedentary or not.
She felt that she could sing with defiance and a little delight because this new world into which she had been introduced by the perverse power of the Web allowed her to know about the world beyond her own shores and be known there.
She also felt that even if there were some in Britain who wanted to cut her down to size (a finely-tuned British thing to do), there were those all over the world who felt she was the embodiment of all their secret, and even silly, hopes and dreams.
That those in Britain believed the extremely entertaining dance group, Diversity, was better mattered nothing.
Now Susan Boyle can record and perform. She can enchant America and other places on the globe, where people watched an apparently ordinary human being do something that wasn't merely extraordinary, but that felt extraordinary.
Because she made people feel, she can now herself feel at least some joy in being respected, loved and admired.
No one will dwell on the fact that she came second in some mercifully mundane little British talent show.
Everyone will remember that on some day back in 2009, they watched a video on YouTube and they wept.