Who are these people who can so easily put their fingers in their mouths and send out a loud and high-pitched whistle? It leaves you wondering if it’s more of a trick than them actually doing it.
The other day, Jane, a 78-year-old friend of mine, stood next to me as I attempted to get someone’s attention in the distance. Not exactly knowing what I was doing, I shoved my two pinkies deep into the sides of my mouth. I’d seen people finger-whistle many times before, and I felt like I was doing what would create the right sound. Unfortunately, instead of a seasoned whistler, I think I looked more like a fish caught on two lures. But that wasn’t nearly as bad as the sound I created—like the muffled hiss of an angry raccoon. And though hissing raccoons don’t drool, this one did. Like a Saint Bernard, I drooled down my chin only to make the mistake of quickly whipping my head away from Jane, which only guaranteed slobber slinging across my face.
I get frustrated when I fail at something that seems so simple…like the skateboard. It’s a piece of wood on four little wheels, four inches off the street. What could possibly go wrong at four inches? My tailbone, wrists, elbows, knees, hips, chest, and back is what. I’d probably make a full-body lift-off into the air like I had been ejected from a race car. And then there are the jugglers—those kids in the park who talk to you about whatever it is you want to talk about as they juggle four, five, or six tennis balls. Could there not be a more deceptive skill than juggling? Two tennis balls, and I can juggle with the best of them. Add one more and I’m fumbling around in all directions like I’m dodging a swarm of bees. I know, I know…these things that people do…they just make it look so easy. They’re not world-class athletes. They’re just average Joes and Janes. And that’s the thing that kills me…if they’re average, then what am I?
As my daughter, Bailey, would often remind me throughout her sarcastic childhood…I’m a loser.
Certainly I’d perform the whistle on my second attempt. I put my pinkies back in my mouth, but this time not so far that it looked as if I were probing for my tonsils. I set them in half-way, then blew out the same repulsive sound while spilling more spittle down my chin, understandably causing Jane to shudder and squirm. I mean, I was an analogous disaster at work: part fish, part raccoon, and part dog—a hybrid mess gone wrong in the animal kingdom.
“Is this what you’re trying to do?” says Jane, putting her two index fingers in her mouth. Jane sends out a whistle that pierces my ears with a sharp delivery. I’m awed by how easy she makes it look. How many years had it taken her to perfect this penetrating shrill? The person, whose attention I had been trying to get, turns immediately. I wave to him, and he waves back. Just a friendly hello was all I was after, as I take full credit for the whistle.
“Really?” says Jane.
“Really,” I say. “Now watch this…”
I put my index fingers in my mouth so they’re positioned in a “V” with just a small space between the finger tips. IT WAS THE INDEX FINGERS!!…NOT THE PINKIES!!…HOW EASY IS THIS!!!??? I am doing exactly as Jane did.
One deep inhalation, and then I blow air forcefully through the gap. Such power. Such precision. Such slobber stringing over my lips. I’m a disaster. Even the raccoon hiss is gone. It sounds more like a suction device during a dental procedure.
“That’s pretty bad,” Jane says chuckling. “Prehhh-ty bad.”
I look at Jane and her god-awful righteous smile. I want to say “to hell with it,” and push this near-80-year-old woman off her feet. I want to tie her to a skateboard and send her speeding down a hill. And though admittedly ill-behaved, before I do that, I want to spit on her feet and tell her, “Farewell!”
But I can’t. There’s a bit of a problem…I’m out of saliva.
Copyright Ros Hill 2017