The bulbous B pretends to be more important than it is by way of its position as the second letter of the alphabet. In fact, it is just the 20th most frequently used letter, ahead of only V, K, J, X, Q, and Z. But consider the word "alphabet," derived from the Greek for "alpha" and "beta," the first two letters of the alphabet. Thus the bumptious B even horns in on the word itself we use for the enterprise at hand. The nerve. Yet isn't this the way after all that people think? One, two, many. Alpha, beta, I'm tired of letters now. And therein lies the rub after all. The letter B pays a heavy penalty for its presumption, its jolly persistent appearances in the ABCs of things and all its bubbly baby talky buh buh buh. If the letter A is the alpha top of the top best of all, the letter B necessarily becomes the fall guy for everything else, winding up with a sleazy extra coat of "loser" for its troubles. B movies, B girls, B team, B squad, 2 hip 2 B square, graduate school F. For people, behaving for all the world as if there is no C, D, or E (let alone P, Q, or R), it's either A—which as we've seen tends to reflexively endorse its own indignity of inflations in the echo chamber of AA, AAA, AAAA, AAAAA, and so on, but which is always at least kind of terrific, good, and acceptable—or it's our friend we are suddenly not so sure about ourselves, the letter B, which seems to stink of something rather unpleasant. But come now. The letter B does have some things going for it. Unlike the vowels and many of the consonants we will see, a B is always a B. It has no multiple duties and is not approximated elsewise. And that is integrity, people, an element in short supply in this man's English alphabet. The sound it represents is always the same moderately complex consonant noise involving coordination with the voice and lips—by name a "voiced bilabial stop" (the term itself gaudy with Bs). Who can say what the logic was of putting that particular and distinct mouth noise second in the alphabet. We're stuck with it now, but then, we seem to be stuck with the silent "gh" in night and tight too. Puns: "be" is a very important word, let's not forget, and "bee" can combine with either or both quite harmoniously, e.g., "don't worry, bee happy" (accompanied by illustration of bumblebee). And say, here's a thought. Could the prominent position of the letter B actually reflect some primal brainstem instinct? After all, babies are pretty important to everyone and they get two of the darn things in a simple four-letter word: baby, which also, for what it's worth, happens to be what many of us call our sex partners at one time or another. And then all that baby talk. Granted, the letter G has stake in this too with the classic "goo-goo gah-gah," and of course "mama" and "papa," but after that isn't it all boo boo buh buh bub bub bub bub bub, etc. Crying out loud, look at the word we have for it: babbling.