2008.01.23 Wife's whistling drives him nuts

Written by David Green.


The night before my birthday, my daughter Rozee baked me some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies—with loads of chocolate chips. Rozee was home from Berea College still, taking a long winter break before heading to New Orleans for another round of helping with the rebuilding effort.

I love Berea’s schedule. Between fall and spring semesters, they have “short term” and students take fun courses on campus, or courses involving travel, or they can create their own short term experience.

The upshot of Rozee’s short term experience was lots of cupcakes  and cookies for me. Way too many cookies, in fact, consumed before and while watching the old movie When Harry Met Sally.

It was a great way to ring in my birthday—chocolate, comedy and camaraderie with one out of three children. Three kids at home would have been best, but empty nesters can’t be choosers, so I’m happy with every little morsel I get.

Still smiling from the movie and chocolate, I crawled into bed at 2:30 a.m., both totally exhausted and high on sugar.

I reached for my pillow—I always reach for my pillow when I crawl into bed in the dark. For one thing, it helps orient me, but more importantly, I never know what David might have placed on or inside my pillow case. A child’s teddy bear? A Barbie doll head?  I never know when he might strike.

So I reached for my pillow—and slapped David in the face—thinking I was patting my pillow. I didn't know he had awakened a little while earlier and was now warming up my side of the bed.

How nice of him—and how cruel of me. The juxtaposition of our two opposing actions made me smile and chuckle—but I knew I hadn’t really hurt him.

Then, as I slid into bed, he rolled over and I elbowed him in the hip. While he groaned in pain, I burst into laughter—gales of laughter—and couldn’t quit.

When I came to my senses, I reached up to stroke his face while asking if he was OK. He turned again as I reached up and I hit him in the head. That sent me into spasms of laughter. It all happened so quickly. Whack, bam, boom! And when you’re high on sugar, everything seems funny.

I first relayed that story to Faye VanderHoff who had wished me a happy birthday in an e-mail:  “I hope you have gotten your hands on a loaded chocolate cake and a fine bottle of wine to celebrate!”

I told her the Whack, Bam, Boom story and concluded it was a “great way to start the next half century of my life...lots of chocolate and loads of laughter.”

Of course, David might draw a different conclusion.

He’s pretty resilient, though. Lately, he is even more tolerant of my whistling, which he, to put it mildly, detests. He’s been downright pleasant about it, even helpful.

I whistle a tune and can’t figure out what I’m whistling.

“What is that the music to?” I ask.

“For me, it’s the theme song to the Porky Pig show,” he says. “For you, it might be “Well, the merry-go-round broke down, but that don’t make me frown...” and then he launches into a fast-paced peppy whistle.

But later, I whistled, “Up on the housetop...”

And David retorted with, “Click, click click.”

It was in a monotone voice that says, “Will you please stop that incessant whistling?”

But, he didn’t actually say that, though. He has a new method of making me stop.

I whistle the opening line to an out-of-season Christmas carol and he whistles back the next line. I think he thinks his whistling will annoy me and I’ll stop whistling when I realize what it’s like to listen to a whistler whistle. Kind of like trying to get a toddler to stop biting by biting him back.

Such cruelty doesn’t usually work—except in ways unintended. David’s whistling just makes me smile and want to engage in a whistling duet. Of course, it’s impossible for me to whistle while I’m smiling or laughing so I never can do a duet.

Like I told Faye, I don’t need a bottle of wine. David might, though.

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