A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


I donít remember exactly when Amy started making The Noise.

I just remember hearing it and thinking that it was cute because . . . well, it was. Iíd have her do it for you right here to demonstrate, but noises are sort of difficult to translate into text. Especially cute ones. You can do screaming (AAIIEEE!!! ), yelling ( HEY YOU! ) and eruptions ( BURP! ). But sweet, gentle sounds are tough to do in print. Letís just say itís sort of like the cute little noise you would get if you pushed a cute little button on a cute little machine, a two-tone effect not unlike the sound my old bicycle squeeze horn used to make only with a high-pitched squeak on the end.

Cute. Very cute.

At least, it was cute the first 700 times I heard it. Then it started getting old, and we asked Amy to find another noise to make like the sound of silence, for example. That was the last Iíd heard of it except for an occasional flare-up of inadvertent cuteness until last Friday.

Thatís when Amy went public with The Noise.

Why she decided to call the radio stationís Stupid Human Tricks contest, I'll never know. But she did and she won! The disc jockeys couldnít believe she was actually making The Noise herself they had her do it over and over again just to be sure. But they liked it -- like I said, it's cute -- and they declared her the winner of a $100 gift certificate, not to mention her 15 minutes of local radio fame.

Amy was thrilled. But it wasnít because of the gift certificate or the glory. It was because her special talent was finally appreciated.

"They loved it!" she squealed when she called me on the phone to tell me about it. They kept laughing and asking me to do it again! It was so fun!

Now, it should be pointed out that Amy is a young woman with many talents, for which she often receives significant acclaim. But The Noise is unique to her, and therefore important to her. So after many years of being patted on the head and then asked to please stop it, for a few minutes she actually had an audience that appreciated this special talent. She basked in it. She reveled in it. She savored every moment of it. And even though the moment was fleeting, she felt somehow validated.

I think itís like that for many of us. We have special little talents -- things that are important to us and that we think we do well -- that often go unappreciated by the people closest to us. We perform these tasks without recognition or acclaim dozens, hundreds, even thousands of times. Then somebody notices our talent and expresses sincere appreciation for it, and suddenly we're Sally Field at the Oscars: "You like me! You really like me!"

Well, OK -- maybe that's stretching the point a bit. Still, it wouldn't hurt any of us to look for unrecognized talents in those who are nearest and dearest to us, and to find a way to recognize them. Celebrate good bed-making. Applaud excellence in parallel parking. Acknowledge a well-tied tie. Give a cheer for neatly organized drawers.

And pump up da noise for . . . well . . . The Noise.

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 --- © Joseph Walker


Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through and