I have a strange relationship with whistling.

When I think of whistling it reminds me of a couple of things. The first is my dad. He used to whistle all the time. All the time. To the point where it would annoy the hell out of me. He was a musician and I think that his mind was continuously ticking over with notes, chord progressions and key changes, even when he was consciously focusing on something else. The outcome of this inner struggle was a constant whistling. Whenever he was doing something mundane like making a cup of tea in the morning or loading up his gear before a gig, he would be whistling. Sometimes I’d recognise the melodies from certain songs; sometimes I even heard sections from songs that I’d been listening to, which he must have just heard in passing and absorbed like a crazy musical sponge. Most of the time, however, I wouldn’t recognise the songs, and if I asked what they were he would simply reply with a dazed look and something like, “Oh… I don’t know,” or “something or other… hmm, haven’t heard that in years”.

His whistling became a joke within our family because I’d get annoyed when he’d do it in public. It was stupid but what can I say, I was young. After that, perhaps to teach me a paternal lesson about respecting your elders or not letting trivial things get to you, or perhaps just because he wanted to spite me, he would do it on purpose, catching my eye as he did it, waiting for a flush of anger to cross my pock-marked teenage face.  

I learnt to whistle at about the age of fourteen. Perhaps that’s late for learning to whistle but I’m not really sure. I can remember though that most of my friends could do it by that point. So could my younger sister who was only seven. I spent ages trying to make the right sounds come out of my mouth but I never could. People would show me and say “Just do this!” but it’s one of those things that you can’t teach, isn’t it? Just like rolling your tongue in the centre, folding the two sides upwards and hooking the tip under your teeth so that it looks like… well, I don’t know what it looks like. That’s the point, I guess. That’s something I’ve always been able to do but when most people see it they can’t understand what the hell it is that I’m doing. They think I must have a fucked up tongue or something.

But whistling is supposed to be easy; most people can whistle, it’s something that people can just do. So I was confused as to why I couldn’t.

Then, just as easy as it was to not whistle, I could whistle. After that I would whistle all the time. Looking back I was probably really proud of myself, not realising that I was doing the exact same thing that pissed me off about my dad. I must have done it for ages and to an unacceptable degree because it got to the point where my best friend at school said “Look mate, seriously, stop fucking whistling”. I stopped whistling after that unless I had to.

Not that the average person is called upon to whistle in any day-to-day or emergency situations; I’m just being melodramatic. 

The other thing that whistling reminds me of, apart from my dad, a couple of specific songs and maybe The X-Files theme tune, is my old boss. I worked in a bakery when I was younger and still lived at home. I worked there for three summers. It was a pretty small shop so sometimes it’d just be me working with the boss. It was because of these days that I learned to despise his whistling. I don’t know if it was an unconscious habit similar to my dad’s or if he did it to break the awkward silences there sometimes were between us, what with spending ten hour days together in a cramped kitchen with thirty-five years of difference. I used to complain about my dad’s whistling but at least that was somewhat tuneful or meaningful. My boss’s whistling was neither of these things. It was the same six notes over and over and over again. I don’t know what they were or where they came from but I hated them with a passion. I’d dread hearing that first note like it was the harbinger of my own personal minimum-wage doom. If I saw him purse his lips I would grind my teeth and clench my buttocks. It became like nails on a chalkboard to me.

It was always the same. He never whistled a different tune and not a day went by working with him when I wouldn’t hear it at least once. I’d leave at the end of the summer thinking that I wouldn’t be coming back the next year, as, aside from the whistling issue, it was a pretty terrible, low-paid job. But then, nine months later, I’d realise that I’d left it too late in the year to find another job and I’d have to start back in the bakery. I always thought to myself, oh well, maybe he’s learnt another tune, but he never had. It would usually be my first day back when I’d hear those familiar six notes emanating ominously from behind the kitchen door. 

After the shocking realisation that I had become a fully-fledged annoying whistler I started doing something else. I started to just blow instead. If you blow you can still make a pitch but nobody can really hear it apart from you. It satisfies all the basic needs of your good ol’ whistle without anyone being aware of it except you.

I realised what I was doing the other day in the shower. I’d had a Weezer song stuck in my head all morning and, as I was washing, I was blowing the tune out of my mouth. I could hear it inside my head but I knew that there was no sound being made.

I realised that I had been doing this for years and had never really thought about it. 

I once asked a friend of mine who worked in the bakery with me if he hated our boss’s whistling as much as I did. My friend was a fair bit older than me and had been working in the shop full-time, all year round, for five years. He just looked at me with a puzzled look.

“What whistling?” he said.

I was stunned and explained the infamous six notes to him.“Oh,” he said. “Yeah, I suppose he does whistle sometimes. I’ll listen out for it.”   

My ex-girlfriend sent me an email recently. It had been about a month since we’d broken up and we hadn’t seen each other since but I couldn’t help but be amused by her P.S. It read:

“Oh, and another thing, that blowing/whistling thing you do sometimes is really fucking annoying.”  



Baby Dicks ~ Melissa Mann

January 15, 2008

Caitlin grips her fountain pen and watches the young woman wiping her husband’s face on the other side of the conservatory.  ‘More meat in your package is what you need!’ she writes in her notebook, pressing a finger between her eyebrows; she is conscious of frown lines.  Out the corner of her eye, she sees the woman put the picture back on the piano and start to clean the one of her children taken outside the family’s second home in Provence.  Caitlin can’t remember the last time she was required to clean anything; eleven years ago probably when she had her own flat, when she worked as a PA at the law firm where Lewis is still the Senior Partner.  They have always had a cleaner, Lewis insisted upon it when they got married, just as he’d insisted upon the housekeeper, gardener and live-in nanny before the children were sent away to boarding school.  Caitlin was effectively made redundant from her life the moment the wedding vows left her mouth. 

‘Your pitiful dick would be a shortcoming for any man,’ she writes, nib punching a green full-stop through the page.  Her hand is shaking.  She puts the pen down and spreads her fingers.  It is an expensive hand manicured twice a week at an exclusive salon off Sloane Square and adorned with a diamond engagement ring and gold wedding band.  It is the hand Lewis took in marriage and made his own.  Caitlin carves the words ‘your warrior of love is too miniscule to win this war!’ across the page of her notebook.

The cleaner has left the house now. Caitlin can’t remember the woman’s name, they’ve had so many; Lewis is rarely satisfied with the way they clean the place.  Caitlin can hear the woman’s scooter puttering just below the bedroom window.  She peers through the curtain, eyes waiting to see the back of her as she heads down the drive.  Caitlin watches as the electric gates swoon closed then turns and strides across the bedroom carpet.  The shag-pile flexes like a knitted muscle beneath her stocking feet.  In the dressing room, a wave of white shirts and made-to-measure suits surges along the wall.  She runs her hand along the length of them; they are barely there beneath her fingertips.  “Chicks hate getting laid by baby dicks like yours,” Caitlin says and smiles to herself.  The wooden hangers knock into each other like a xylophone. 

She is on her side of the dressing room now, confronting the pointed stare of row upon row of shoes and boots.  Lewis is constantly buying them for her.  Blood money she thinks every time she accepts a new pair, for is she not complicit in this killing of herself?  They all have heels, none less than three inches high.  When he’d bought her the first pair all those years ago, she’d thought perhaps he fantasised about seeing her in slutty stilettos, so one evening she’d greeted him home from work, naked but for a red patent pair with a spiked silver heel.  The swell of her breasts and belly glistened with baby oil in the porch light, her blonde hair set free from its clip, wild.  “I want you to fuck me,” she said, pulling out his tie and taking it in her mouth.  But Lewis had called her a dirty whore, told her to put some clothes on then pushed past her to the study. 

Caitlin learned early on in her marriage that Lewis has no time for sexual games.  He buys her heels simply because he wants her to be taller than she is, would like her to be more than she is generally in fact.  Caitlin had considered herself a catch when she first met him, Lewis being so much older than her, but after eleven years married to a man whose compliments are always on the tip of his tongue, she now understands that she will always be a disappointment to him. Caitlin holds a black court shoe in her hands, curved heel gripped in her fist.

“Elongate your short sword to fit her scabbard better,” she says then laughs.  With the shoe back on its box, she kneels down and pushes aside a row of flabby leather handbags.  The carpet peels back like the page of an ancient tome.  From beneath the floorboards, Caitlin retrieves her laptop and, clutching it to her chest, walks over to the bed.  She strokes the lid, a finger describing the engraved logo then opens it and turns it on.  The screen blinks and goes through its routine of waking up.  Caitlin bought it six months ago with the money Lewis gave her for the Prada coat he said she could have.  Within a month she’d earned enough money of her own to buy the coat before her husband could suspect a thing.

Caitlin leans back against the padded headboard, notebook open beside her and begins to type. ‘Guys with tiny pen!ses like yours truly lack manhood.’  On the bedside table, Lewis’ half-moon spectacles eye her from the book he’s reading on hedge funds.  Caitlin chews the inside of her cheek, fingers tripping over the keys in their haste to type the words that have popped in her head – ‘Shame on you!  Don’t you know your wife longs for a big schlong!!!’   A noise on the landing.  Caitlin stops, swallows, breath holding itself at the back of her throat.  Her husband’s black Labrador lumbers through the bedroom door and seeing nothing of interest to him, bumbles back out the way he came.

Reassured it wasn’t Lewis home early again, Caitlin flexes her fingers above the keys to stop them quaking.  The blank email waits patiently for her to gather herself.  From the drop-down list, she selects a name.  Today, Caitlin decides, she will be Sherman A. Santos.  In the subject heading and body of the email, she pastes some text, selects the largest email group from her address book then presses send…
FROM: Sherman A. Santos
SUBJECT: Extend your mini fuckstick & keep your wife coming!
Searching for a sure fire way to fight your s’ex_ual failures?
Looking for more SIZE, LENGTH and WIDTH from your love shaft?
Frankly I had never observed in myself such a might and pleasure before I tried this cure for d!cklessness!
Order top grade V ia_G ra here, 100mg x 90 pills for just $$$$$$120.95!!!!

Time to Lose ~ Mikael Covey

January 15, 2008

When I was your age you know they say that and you shudder that fuck you geezer shudder like fuck off leave me alone. You’re not my age and probably never were and if you were than it was like turn of the century and not this last one either. And then time goes by or goes bye-bye or something like that but anyway it’s gone. You don’t get it back. You know and I know and it don’t mean jack shit anyway but there it is. You think at some point twenty years ago like that was a long time but I’m still young so what the fuck. And then it’s like thirty years ago you can say that now like fuck man that really is a long time and I aint getting any younger but still in my prime and you know what after that it’s really fucked. So when I was your age…shit forgot what I was gonna say. Oh yeah when I was…and young…and all that you think time is expendable and you know it isn’t but you don’t really know that. Just like it’s a really sad concept, mortality and what not. But when you get to be old and mortal you really can’t worry about it anymore. My father’s ninetyone. He’s hears the nails. If he doesn’t come down and get his mail I dread going up there to see if he still is. And he had dreams too. Went to art school Greenwich Village in the 40’s. Then left that behind and now all he talks about is the left behind and nothing in front to worry about. Global warming I tell him, who cares he says.