Monday, January 19, 2015

40 B4 40: Two Finger Whistle

There is a character I wish I could be. She’s tall and dark. She looks equally good in hats and leather pants. She smears her eyes with black liner, but never her lips with lipstick. She drinks her coffee black and her whiskey neat. Her reading material of choice is poetry and she memorizes favorite segments. She can pick up any instrument and produce a recognizable tune. She tends bar and easily deflects pick-up lines. She can quiet a room or stop a taxi with a piercing whistle. She’s urban, chic, and civilized.

I’ve had the coffee part down for years and recently picked up the whiskey habit. I’ll never be tall or dark or a wearer of leather pants. I have opposite makeup preferences (lips over eyes - always). I wear hats, whether or not I actually look good in them, and am developing a poetry habit. I have limited musical gifts and sell hair products instead of tending bar. Pick-up lines make me blush and stammer, which only seems to encourage the artist. The two finger whistle, though, seems to be within my abilities.

I don’t know if there is a civilized way to learn to whistle with one’s fingers. It takes a lot of slobbery, unhygienic practice. I got started with a wikihow page and a youtube tutorial and then spent hours in the woods with my hands in my mouth. The real breakthrough occurred in the car, though, looking in a mirror. The combination of kinesthetic and visual feedback refined my technique so that I finally produced the piercing sound. With practice, I can do it fairly reliably.

I don’t use the whistle to get the attention of a crowd or a taxi, as my character would. Instead, I use it to call the dogs. Even without reinforcement, the sound brings them running, but I give them treats anyway, for responding. Also, unlike my secretive character, I’ll give you some tips that work for me.

1. My internet resources: Wikihow and The Art of Manliness How To Whistle with Your Fingers. (I actually used a different YouTube video, but found this better tutorial after I’d learned my whistle.)

2. Lips: most resources instruct you to tuck your lips under (like you’ve removed your false teeth). I found it more effective to tightly tuck my top lips but more loosely tuck the bottom.

3. Finger angle: experiment with the angle of your fingers. At first, I had my fingers at a nearly 90 degree angle to my head. I had more success when I pivoted my hand so that my fingers were coming from below.

4. Seal: the seal between the corners of your mouth and your fingers is critical!

5. Moisture: wet lips do help. Lick them. And enjoy the slobbery fun.

As you can tell from my appearance in the video (filmed as I hiked through oak woodlands with my dogs), I’m neither urban nor chic. I’m only partly civilized. But I can pretend to be that dark, brooding woman when I whistle. (Until the dog comes barreling into me and I fall into the dirt, laughing with joy.)


Anonymous said...

So cool to hear to talk (and whistle) after all these years of following your unique pattern on pattern style! Hope to "hear" more from you in the future!

Awake in Seattle

DressUpNotDown said...

You are my hero! I too will learn to two finger whistle!!!! :o)