Thursday, November 29, 2007


I'm a whistler. I can't help it. There's not a musical note in my body, except for the one that springs up when I put my lips together and blow. My grandfather can play harmonica and guitar, has dabbled with the banjo and has a brilliant voice, as do my uncles. Christmas at my grandparents always concluded with everyone gathered together in the living room playing and strumming and singing and although I gave it my best shot, I'm just not good. And yet, somehow or another I inherited the whistling gene, probably from grandpa, who does even that well.

I spend most of my day whistling, either along with the songs on my iPod, or to the tunes that run through my head. I cover all sorts of music, from classical to jazz, to songs I morph from one to the other. Jazz seems to be my favorite, but sometimes I even run through songs from my childhood (a couple of favorites were taught to me by my grandmother, "Joe Cogan's Goat" and "I Had a Little Dog and His Name was Jack"). Most mornings I wake up with a song already running through my head and I spend the majority of my shower time whistling them over and over, except, of course, while I'm brushing my teeth when not even a virtuoso whistler could manage a tune.

For the past few days the only song I seem capable of whistling is "Sleigh Ride". Nonstop, all day long. I worked hard yesterday getting rid of it, going so far to whistle "Mickey," by Toni Basil, an act of true desperation. Nothing seemed to work. Not even other Christmas tunes, like "Winter Wonderland" or, God forbid, Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" (I sang first tenor in high school so I tend to whistle the really high part). It seemed hopeless until this morning when I awoke blessedly free of the damn thing, went to work, whistled my way through The Beatles, some Depeche Mode and Cure, even Eminem.

It was tonight on our walk, though, when things once again took a turn for the worst. We walked down Bowles to Jay and toward the elementary school. Not far down the dark, residential street someone had put up their Christmas lights and before I knew it, before I was actually aware I was even doing it, that damn Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops tune was racing through my head and blowing out from between my lips. I got a couple of bars in before I stopped––startling Duncan, who was investigating a low shrub––swore loudly, stood and stared at the house, which glowed with a thousand points of blue, shook my head and realized the season was upon me and there'd be no turning back.

Tonight I finally accepted and embraced my inner "Sleigh Ride."

It's going to be a long month. Long indeed.


Ruth said...

Not a musical note in your body? What bunk. I've heard you sing in the shower. Jazz hands!

Greg said...

"Sleigh Ride" often sticks for me, too...urging me on through the set up for one holiday party or another. Maybe it's because last year (07), they seemed to play the classic Radio City Orchestra version ALL too infrequently.