I love my whistle. I still like to have it with me on my key chain, just in case. Just in case what? Just in case I see a kid running barefoot on wet cement near a pool? Just in case someone dives into a puddle near me? Just in case I fancy a lariat twirl? Just in case I need to warn people of some impending disaster involving electric shock or spinal injuries?

Perhaps. It’s my safety blanket, in a way. I can close my eyes and think back to my deliciously smooth, tan legs soaking up more rays while I rested my deliciously tan arms on the hot metal arm-rests of the lifeguard stand, twirling the whistle chord around my index finger. Wrap around, unwrap around… over and over… Scan the pool… count the kids… all over again. It was beautiful, repetitive and fulfilling.

And oh! My whistle-blowing skills! They were unparalleled. We had some sort of signalling system in place involving long whistle blows and short whistle blows, but I can’t remember it all now… but I could really get those short whistle blows. I think I learned how to properly use a whistle by coaching a swim team. You really had to emphasize that short, loud, startling whistle involving some fancy tongue work.

I can still hear (and cringe at the remembrance) a few of my fellow guards who hadn’t mastered their whistle work. They’d just put the whistle in their mouth and blow. Effective, but not very elegant. These tweets would start off slowly and quietly, rumble into full blast, and then fade away as their breath strength failed them. Not so, with my whistling. I’d hold my tongue over the whistle opening until my cheeks were full of air, start to blow, then remove my tongue for that sharp blast that so inspired fear in the pool-rat children. I’d just as quickly cover the opening again with my tongue before my whistle faded away. It was crisp. It was authoritative. It was downright frightening.

I find that it wasn’t nearly as awe-inspiring when I attempted it as a teacher. These are the lifeguard chronicles, not the high school math teacher chronicles, but suffice it to say, the whistle in the classroom inspired about as much laughter as it had fear in my lifeguarding days. Those days in the lifeguard stand were some of the only ones where I could truly epitomize that Disney-made saying, “Whistle While You Work.”

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