I Don't Yodel
by Elena Krumholtz


    I was a finalist in a yodeling contest.  I donít yodel.  With the right motivation though, I will try anything.  This contest occurred during my college years when I was a little wilder, less inhibited, sleep deprived.  I was home from college and a local radio station was going to award one lucky winner with a trip to Switzerland.  The rules were simple; send in your name, yodel on the air, and again at the finals.  Actual ability to yodel was not required.  I wanted to see the world and a little problem like no natural inborn yodeling talent was not going to stop me. 

    I sent my name in to the radio station and was called within days.  The radio personality called the night before to make sure I would really yodel on the air.  Iím thinking some people had chickened out before.  I assured him I was ready and willing!  This is where my clever planning comes in.  The yodeling occurred on the early morning show, the 6 Ė 7 AM time slot.  No one I knew would be up at that hour.  Furthermore, the finals were to be held at Court House Square, in Dayton.  I know of no nineteen year olds who hang out downtown in the summer.  I will suffer no embarrassment.  I will yodel anonymously.  I will be wrong about these things.

    I kept the phone by my bed and was wakened by its strident ringing.  I sat up, cleared my throat and answered.  I was on the air.  After some chit-chat, I performed my first public yodeling. Yodel-eh-hee-hoo.  It was brief, timid and squeaky.  The announcer was perhaps unimpressed but bullied on to say I was qualified to be one of twenty who would appear on stage.  After yodeling, a name would be drawn to see who was going to Switzerland.  One in twenty odds are about as good as I could ever hope for.

    Then the plan changed.  Court House Square was not going to be used.  The event was moved to mid-day at the Dayton Mall.  I know quite a few nineteen year olds who hang out at the Dayton Mall in the summer.  I began to suffer bouts of nerves.

    On the day in question, I arrived to find that four other finalists had backed out.  This improved my chances to one in sixteen.  I could practically hear the shushing of skis in the Alps.  Maybe I was just hearing the shushing of the very large audience gathered to watch the event.  Fourteen other women and one man lined up to mount the stage and perform.  When my turn came I released a very pathetic gargle.  Phew.  Iím finished.  But no, the host asked me to do it again! Yodel-eh-hee-hoo.  A true Swiss yodeler would have thrown himself off an icy ridge rather than utter the sorry imitation I produced.  I stepped off the stage, face aflame and watched the others.  Some were meek and others brazen.  One woman took the microphone and did the entire Sound of Music yodeling number even though the MC tried to get control of the microphone during her performance.  The only man competing let loose with something that actually resembled pig calling more than anything else. 

    Finally the moment came when a name was drawn.  After all my public embarrassment I was not to win a trip.  That prize went to the pig caller.  I won a handful of gift certificates for strawberry yogurt.  That is when I spotted some of my friends.

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