I’ve occasion to escort friends Roger and Lloyd, visiting from summer-sweltering Florida, to what’s euphemistically known among dance mavens as “the Windsor ballet.”
Our much anticipated cultural outing, because of family visitation commitments, unfortunately falls on a Tuesday evening, when not much usually happens in first, third, or fifth positions among the scheduled “ballet” dancers.
Roger, Lloyd, and I have passports in hand; agreeing as cover story that our visit is to one-armed mechanical casino bandits rather than for multi-limbed appeasement of our voyeuristic needs (well-mannered visitors representing America’s best cultural interests in a foreign country).
As we each focus our smiling, affidavit faces at the checkpoint attendant – a handsome chap, given no doubt to sizing up our touristing, equivocating kind – we’re quickly, merrily, on our way. (“Oh, Canada, Our Home and Native Land, etc.”)
Possessed of an exacting memory for placement, pieced together from multiple previous visits, I guide us directly to our destination, arriving at 9:15, only to be told that show time’s at 10:00; and, apologetically, only one dancer, an athletic 22-year-old, succinctly named Max, is appearing as Maple Fig Leaf soloist.
To pass time before Max’s entre acte takes place on a polished brass pole extending some ten feet to ceiling, center stage, I engage a stranger sitting to my left in conversation. Attentive listener that I am (when you’re my age what else can you do but listen) he provides casual details of his life.
Jeremy says he’s a chemist, age 36 (though he looks ten years younger), is involved with a 28-year-old school teacher, who, he sighs, has as yet not asked for a committed relationship. “I just stopped in for a nightcap after another boring work day,” he adds. He’s friendly. We slip into easy conversation.
Perhaps it’s the conversational closeness, but I feel an intimacy that triggers my own past relationship thoughts, and how I miss having someone special to care for. It’s vicarious moments, with Jeremy as a surrogate stand in. (Innocent of physical contact or intent, yes; but for me gently touching nonetheless.)
Dancer Max struts center stage. Scantily clad (to say the least), he quickly climbs to the top, topsy-turvy turns about, and deftly, acrobatically, climbs facing down. I’m impressed. Jeremy’s bored, and, out of the blue (so to speak), says, “Have you heard of the ‘Windsor hum’ in your neck of the woods?”
As I haven’t, he explains. “The Windsor hum’s a rumbling sound that comes deep out of nowhere, lasts for annoying minutes at a time. It happens frequently. No one seems to be able to pinpoint where it originates. A mystery. Google ‘Windsor hum’ and see what you get.”
Back stateside, fondly remembering the reverie Jeremy unknowingly touched in my memory bank, I eventually do google. There are several entries, one a Facebook listing. Seems the throbbing phenomenon has been occurring for some time.
A few days later, I also find to my surprise that the September 2011 issue of my favorite oddball phenomena magazine Fortean Times carries an article, “Durham (England) is humming: A noise like a distant engine.”
FT reports the groaning’s not new, with reported cases dating to 1727! “The most famous in the UK was ‘the Bristol Hum’ in the 1970s when more than 2,000 people complained of a consistent drone causing nosebleeds, sleeplessness, headaches.”
In America, footnotes FT, unexplained rumblings, grumbling, growlings, grindings, grunting have been ear plugging for residents in Hueytown, Ala., Taos, N.M., and Green Bay, Wis.
(Just maybe, the Dow-Jones could use a good-feely hum job, or an agile goose up the NASDAQ brass pole for Max, er, maximum full throbbing effect. With lotsa financial lube, of course.)