Wednesday, June 24, 2015


I was standing in the kitchen at the stove, stirring a she-crab soup for the family’s annual Summer Kick-off Party. Harleigh was sitting within eye shot, in the ken, looking at Pinterest on her phone. “I think I’m a hummer,” I said, my mouth askew in a grimace. She sat upright, incredulous. “No, Mom, no. Please don’t. That’s bad.” I explained the transformation, neither defensive nor apologetic. It simply is what it is. As of late I’ve been humming a lot. Certain songs dominate the playlist. I do it when I’m alone and when I'm around people. I catch myself doing it at work, and while it’s been greeted with smiles, there’s going to come a point where people become annoyed, slipping on their earphones or snatching their laptops to go work in another part of the office. I don’t want to be "that" person.

I’ve known a few hummers in my life. The most blatant of them all was a dentist. Many moons ago I went to a practice with a handful of dentists. There was one that I always asked for, pleasant and non-chatty, the way I like ‘em. When I was told that I needed a filling, I requested Dr. Pleasant and Non-chatty, but he was booked solid for the next several weeks, and I really did want to get this off my list. So I opted for another in the practice who had an immediate opening. He was nice enough, but the minute the rubber gloves went on and the sterile stainless tools invaded my mouth, the humming began. And didn’t stop. I closed my eyes, thinking that would make it less invasive, but it only made it more comical as I lay there thinking of whether anyone had actually called him out on it. Asked him to stop. Asked him why he did it. Needless to say, I never went back to him.

I looked it up online and found that many people hum as a simple and effective way to ease tension and reduce stress. For some, it improves sinus health, creating vibration in the sinus cavity, which helps to eliminate congestion. Another guess is that humming is little bits of joy bubbling from your unconscious. As it relates to my own irritating warbling, I’ll go with this one. And for the sake of my daughter, who looked at me like I’d become someone she could no longer stomach, consider the habit squelched.

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