Monday, May 23, 2011

Whatever Happened to the Whistle?

I don’t hear it anymore. Is it because everyone is glued to their cell phone or iPod and don’t feel the need to make music anymore? What a shame.

"You know how to whistle, don't you?
You just put your lips together and blow."
When I was a kid we used to have whistling contests, to see who could whistle the longest and the loudest. I even won, sometimes. But recently I’ve lost the knack. I purse my lips, blow, and nothing comes out. But I began practicing, and like the trumpeter who lost his lip, it came back! This morning I was walking to the Post Office, pursing my lips and puffing away, when--presto! I heard myself whistling--a lovely rendition of The Saints Come Marching In. It really bucked me up.

Didn’t the Seven Dwarfs whistle while they worked? They were a cheerful bunch. (Grumpy was the exception.) I remember an old radio show called “The Whistler” that started off with a very spooky whistle that sent chills up my spine.

But never underestimate the power of the whistle as an instrument for good cheer. Once, long ago, when I was very young, (about 22), I was walking to work on a rainy Monday morning feeling lonely and depressed. I stopped for a traffic light and a truck stopped beside me. The driver leaned out of the cab and gave me a wolf whistle. Wow! I don’t care what my feminist friends say, that whistle perked me up and made my day. (Of course, the guy was probably half asleep or blind, but that didn’t matter.)

Robin Hathaway

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