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ARE YOU KIDDING ME: Humming to be happy

Humming is somewhat of a hobby for some of us. 123RF
Humming is somewhat of a hobby for some of us. 123RF - Contributed

It’s been brought to my attention that I hum a lot. I didn’t realize this is apparently annoying to those in my inner circle.

I do know that the minute I get in an elevator, I hum. Then I glance at Hubby and he’s smirking at me. Depending on my mood, I will stop instantly or turn away from him and keep humming or stick my tongue out at him.

My humming is not mindless. I hum Broadway show tunes from the good old days, like Oklahoma: “Oh, what a beautiful mornin’! Oh, what a beautiful day! I’ve got a beautiful feelin’, everything’s going my way!” And, of course, Shall We Dance from the King and I. Most of the time I know the melody, but not all the words, which is why I hum. But I also sing spontaneously. I do know the entire score of The Sound of Music, so I usually belt that out when I cook supper or change the kitty litter. 

But the one that gets everyone’s attention is Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy’s Indian Love Call. “When I’m calling you! Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo! Will you answer too? Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo!” I have no idea how this tune came into my life, but I burst into this song regularly at the kitchen sink or while doling out ice cream for the gang. It’s gotten so bad that my daughter-in-law now belts it out.

Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs song, “I’m wishing (I’m wishing) for the one I love to find me (to find me) today (today).” That’s another great one.

But why do I insist on humming these tunes for no reason? 

It’s called self-soothing.

“Self-soothing usually takes place through the senses ... enjoyable sensory experiences signal the brain that there is no emergency and everything’s going to be OK, e.g. a sound, to sing or hum or listen to a cat’s purr ... self-soothing is a powerful tool for tolerating distress,”said Carrie Elizabeth Lin, a psychotherapist. 

Apparently, I’m distressed 24-7. And while it might be soothing to me, it bugs everyone else in my vicinity. Now that I’ve been forced to recognize it, I’m keeping tabs of where I do it the most. The elevator is an easy one to understand, as I hate elevators. The instant I get in one, I imagine some bad guy slicing the cables with a machete to send us hurtling downward to instant death. I don’t watch that many movie thrillers, so I’m not sure where this bad guy scenario crept into my consciousness.

I also hum in cars. “When the red, red robin, comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along,” or my perennial favourite, “Mama’s little baby loves shortenin’, shortenin’, Mama’s little baby loves shortenin’ bread! Put on the fire, put on the lead, Mama’s gonna make some shortenin’ bread. And that ain’t all she’s goin’ to do, Mama’s gonna make some corn bread, too!”

This ditty makes me instantly happy and able to endure a long lull in conversation if you’re driving someone you don’t know very well. Or if you’re standing in line at Tim Hortons or Sobeys.

Humming has to be one of the lesser ways of placating myself. I could be walking around with a weighted blanket wrapped around me, sucking on a soother.

Now that I’m aware of this blip in my personality, I have to be more careful. I once hummed Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf in church. Not that any of the elderly ladies around me would have recognized the tune, but still.

I think the reason humming makes me happy is that I would hum to my babies while they were in my arms as I rocked them to sleep. To most mothers, this memory is one of pure joy (as long as they went to sleep). That simple vibration as their ears were pressed against your chest must have sounded like a cat purr.

If humming is my only crime, I think I’m good.

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