Whistling with Wolves

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Topic 1. "How To..."

I’m a real fan of “how to” books and articles. This is because I’ve no real skills or talents of my own but plenty of hope (read: wishful thinking) to learn something kick-ass that would be useful or, if entirely useless, then just astoundingly impressive.

Unfortunately this hope usually wears off very rapidly when I discover that the sheer act of buying the book or magazine isn’t enough. Not only do you actually have to read the publication, but you also have to comprehend and follow instructions and actually make some sort of effort which usually requires some form of physical activity… no matter how slight or strenuous.

The result is that I can fill a library with all the books I have on “How to speak French/Italian/Egyptian Arabic/Swahili/English (yes, it is my second “tongue!”);” “How to play the piano/guitar/organ/harmonica/saw;” “How to be succinct and to the point when you write.”

And of course I can’t do any of those things.

However, there’s one skill that I almost mastered in high school. A boyfriend’s ultra-cool mom taught me how to whistle with two fingers. Unfortunately that boyfriend was history before I was able to manage anything other than a pathetic little “pfffffffffft” sound that was more a whisper than anything else.

Without access to the ex’s mom, I kept on trying on my own for a while, but eventually gave up defeated when I lost all feeling in my lips and tongue.

Well, this desire to master the two-fingered whistle returned with a renewed vengeance recently.

My current beau is part of an a cappella group, and I’ve been their loyal “groadie” (that’s the term one uses for people like me who do double duty as groupies and roadies) for the past two years. Now I’ve reached the point where mere applause and yelling: “Whoo!” aren’t sufficient ways to express my appreciation as an audience member anymore.

So I’ve been practicing again. And I’m happy to report that I’m almost back to recreating my pathetic “pfffft” of ten years ago, numb lips and all.

And in my enthusiasm, I want to teach everyone around me, because I think a glass shattering, deafening two-finger whistle is one of the coolest and most impressive skills both guys and gals can possess.

Here’s how you get started. All you need is – and this is going to sound almost naughty - a pair of lips, a tongue (preferably your own!), most of your teeth and, from either hand, at least two (clean!) fingers (any two will do, although these pairs are recommended: index finger and thumb, or middle finger and thumb). If you have both hands to spare, then you can use your right and left index or middle fingers, or your right and left pinkies.

If you’re able to (and it’s okay if you can’t, it’s a genetic thing), roll your tongue into a u-shape. If you can’t, simply fold your tongue over so that the tip lies towards the back of your mouth. If you’re STILL unable to do that, then read on.

With your bottom and top rows of teeth slightly apart, place your chosen combination of fingers on opposite ends of your rolled up tongue. (Tip: your fingers should point towards each other. In fact, you can almost slightly pinch your tongue to define the tunnel a bit more. Also, your fingers go in about halfway between the corners and center of your lips, and are only inserted to the first knuckles. No need to shove it down your throat for this exercise!) If your tongue isn’t rolled but folded back, place your fingers inside the loop, pointed towards each other.

Now, we get to the potentially lip-numbing exercise. Tighten your lips and fold them into your mouth over your teeth. For most of us rather thin-lipped folk, your lips should be almost entirely invisible at this point. If you have trouble keeping your lips inside, change the order of events and fold your lips after you roll your tongue and before you put your fingers in, so that your fingers can help to keep your lips in place.

Now exhale and blow… and hope for the best. Don’t despair if you generate no sound at first. This is normal. Experiment with your tongue and finger placement until you hear something other than just air being blown out. If you are anything like me, this will take a while. You’d better pause periodically otherwise you may become light-headed and faint.

Okay, now, for those whose tongues are less agile, repeat the following really fast: “Rred Lorrry, Yellow Lorrry…” No, I’m just kidding.

Tighten and fold your lips as above.

Insert your chosen combination of fingers, using them to keep your lips in place over your teeth.

Now, simply pull back your tongue so that its front tip touches the bottom of your mouth just behind the lower gums.

Exhale and blow.

Continue experimenting with the position of the tongue and fingers until you make a sound.

And as soon as you do make a sound, start showing it off! Go ahead, summon packs of dogs from three counties over, hail cabs, impress your date, shatter glass, make your appreciation heard at concerts and sporting events, upstage construction workers…

6 Comments

kalisah said:

I have not one, but TWO girlfriends who can do this and I've always always wanted to learn. I have good tongue roller genes, so maybe I'll have some luck. I'll letcha know how it goes!

JustAJunior said:

Interesting... very, very, interesting.
Congrats on your win, as well.

Shylah said:

I learned how to whistle like this in Junior high, but haven't done it in years. On a whim, I tried it while I was reading this entry, and scared the bejeezus out of my two-year-old. Whoo! On the first try, even!

Congrats on the win!

Stacy said:

I have ALWAYS wanted to know how to do that, but by reading your description, so far the only thing I have succeeded in has been getting spit all over my monitor. I'll keep trying, though.

From one "groadie" to another, I salute you. :)

Congrats on the new blog.

Gretchen said:

Somehow I am certain that you have a camera pointed at those of us trying this and laughing like hell at all the pathetic attemps.

firefly said:

here's the irony. I did this same thing while I was in junior high, and did eventually learn how to do it. Now people are amazed at my finger whistling skills, and it does help when you're wanting to show a lot of enthusiasm in large crowds. I wish you luck!



















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is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
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comments
  • firefly : here's the irony. I did this same thing while I was in junior high, and did eventually learn how to ... [go]
  • Gretchen : Somehow I am certain that you have a camera pointed at those of us trying this and laughing like hel... [go]
  • Stacy : I have ALWAYS wanted to know how to do that, but by reading your description, so far the only thing ... [go]
  • Shylah : I learned how to whistle like this in Junior high, but haven't done it in years. On a whim, I tried ... [go]
  • JustAJunior : Interesting... very, very, interesting. Congrats on your win, as well.... [go]
  • kalisah : I have not one, but TWO girlfriends who can do this and I've always always wanted to learn. I have g... [go]
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