Sunday, June 26, 2011


My son has learned to whistle.  He does it all the time now, including his visits to public restrooms.  My husband informed me this has become regular occurrence for him.  Just stands in there and whistles away.  I find this funny, especially since I recently watched an episode of Friends where Phoebe is excited to have been asked out by "guy who hums whiles he pees".  Will this be my child one day?  Guy who whistles while he pees?  Who knows - but the thought gives me a little chuckle.

Right now, I can hear him whistling upstairs, his very own melody.  It is constant.  I want to be annoyed by it, by the raucous of perpetual high-pitched vibrations, but I am not.  I find it endearing and for a few reasons. 

One:   My father whistled my entire life.  Drove my mom batty most of the time because he whistled everywhere, the store, outside, the mall, whenever it suited his fancy.  He once told her when he whistles it usually means he's in a pretty good mood.  I remember that.  That whistling equals happy.  I keep this tidbit with me when my son is on his third or fourth hour of melodious tunes. 

Two:  My husband is also a whistler.  Are we noticing a pattern here?  Men.  He, too, whistles at random in various places and yes, it drives me batty.  But, I try to remember what my father said and relax at the notion of happiness emitting from his lips. 

My son's recent fascination with his ability to whistle prompted my curiosity about whistling and I did a little research.  Did you know that back in the days of Vaudeville performances, many shows featured professional whistling?   There is also an International Whistlers Convention in North Carolina. Held every year, it brings together whistlers from all over the world who battle for the crown of 'International Grand Champion'.  Whistling has different facets from pucker whistling to palatal whistling to the very skilled jazz whistling called puccalo.  Yes - that is funny.  Makes me think of Ron Burgundy in Anchor Man and the jazz flute. 

Whistling is also a form of communication.  An audible language, predominantly used in the theater for cues to raise and lower curtains, move set items, etc...and it was quite effective.  In the Spanish Canary Island of La Gomera, a traditional whistled language named silbo gomero is still taught in school. Six separate whistling sounds are used to produce two vowels and four consonants, allowing this language to convey more than 4000 words.   This language allowed people to communicate over long distances in the island, when other communication means were not available.  I find this absolutely amazing!

Martini anyone?  But NO WHISTLING!
Whistling also holds many superstitions around the world.  In Russian, whistling indoors is superstitiously believed to bring poverty, whereas whistling outdoors is considered normal.  In Serbia, it is said that whistling indoors will attract mice (might this be why these creatures have invaded my dwelling - I mean were not in Serbia, but still?  It makes me think?) while in Asian countries whistling at night is thought to bring snakes.  In Hawaiian folktales, whistling at night is considered bad luck because it mimics the sound of Nightmarchers, ghosts of warriors. In the Philippines, it is considered disrespectful to whistle in public places especially in the presence of women. When women do so it is simply improper.  Nice huh?  We can't even whistle.  Then again, in England, women were cautioned not to whistle as it was believed "A whistling woman never marries", leaving her to be an old-maid or spinster.  But, she does have a lovely martini!

Anyway - no real point to this blog, just a random collection of facts about whistling.  I'm sure there are many more out there, this is just what I stumble upon via a great Google search.   My son is still whistling upstairs, and I am still enjoying the sound.  I feel like it's something that will stay with him through the ages if the public school system doesn't beat it out of him.  A sound that when he's fifteen or eighteen or twenty-two will remind me of now, seven-years old, the year he learned to whistle.  Nostalgia. 

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