Sunday, November 20, 2005


I've done it almost as long as I can remember. It helps me focus. It helps me relax. Sometimes I do it without realizing I've started. It's become easier with practice. The results are more reliable, I'm easily able to add certain flourishes and flairs. It's one of my very favourite things.

I love to whistle.

That's right - whistle.

You see, I've almost always got a song stuck in my head, and I've learned the hard way that singing or humming in public is more likely to get you strange looks and an entire subway bench to yourself rather than applause.

Some people really seem to like a little whistling. Strangers smile at me on the sidewalk or in the grocery store. Older gentlemen especially seem to think it's charming - a couple of years ago one even stopped me to say it had been ages since he'd heard something so cheerful.

Not that whistling doesn't have drawbacks. You get the occasional dirty look. And boy, do the babushka-clad biddies in my neighbourhood hate it. I have been told on two separate occasions that whistling is not 'ladylike' (though apparently my sweatpants and baseball cap fit the 'ladylike' bill without a problem).

I try not to be obtrusive with my whistling. I stop if I notice someone glaring. And I'm not some tuneless blow-hard who drives you crazy. I think my whistling is rather tuneful and pleasant. Yes, yes, bias recognized.

ANYWAY, I'm off topic. I have noticed a certain fascinating whistling phenomenon. Is anyone else out there a whistler, too? Perhaps you can corroborate my startling findings.

Whistling is contagious.

That's right - contagious. Something about hearing a whistle creates an incredible NEED in some people to whistle a tune of their own. Especially if they're standing right beside you on the subway platform. Especially if THEIR whistling completely ruins YOUR whistling. In fact, the ruining might even be the fun part for these...these bad people. I posit that these whistle-ruiners are the same people who grow up to monopolize conversation at dinner parties and who park just far enough over the line as to make the next spot impossible to park in. This is happening with an alarming frequency lately, and I'm really starting to be concerned. Is it just me? Does no one else find it rude to interrupt someone's whistle?

All of these different responses to whistling (approvers, disapprovers, ruiners) made me curious, and I thought I would do some online searching as to the etiquette of. Sadly I didn't find anything particularly helpful for my cause, but I did come up with something I must share:

Did you know that, according to Esquire Magazine, it is acceptable for a gentleman to whistle while standing at the urinal or the washbasin, but not in the cubicle?

I can see whistling whilst washing your hands, even possibly while standing at a urinal (though that's something I've yet to try - boys??), but have you ever whistled while you shat? Have you ever been inclined to, even in the privacy of your own home? Can't say I have. Might give it a try, though...just to see what it's like...


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