When was the last time you hear someone whistle a tune? Doesn’t it seem like whistling has become much less common than it used to be?
I’m a whistler. When I walk the halls at work, I often unconsciously whistle an off-key rendition of a snippet from Swan Lake. It’s something I’ve done for years, and I’m not sure why. The whistling is rare enough, apparently, that people at work comment on it. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard someone else — a co-worker, or a kid in the neighborhood — whistle something.
Why does whistling seem to have one foot in the grave? Is it because you have to practice to become a halfway decent whistler? Or is it because there is no point in learning to whistle a tune when you can walk around all day listening to an iPod?
The heyday of whistling probably was the ’50s and ’60s. In those days, there were popular TV shows where the theme song was whistled, like the jaunty intro to The Andy Griffith Show or the lonesome-sounding intro to Lassie. And why was the intro to Lassie so sad-sounding, anyway? You’d think a show about a kid and his dog would be more upbeat. Of course, the fact that Lassie was constantly saving Timmy from an abandoned well or catching some escaped convict lurking in the neighborhood may have affected the theme-whistler’s mood. Perhaps another reason people have stopped whistling is that it brings back disturbing memories of June Lockhart trying to interpret the precise meaning of Lassie’s barks so that she could promptly solve the latest crisis.