Voice of America (Not)

Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

I got tired of listening to my raspy voice. If I’m tired of listening to my raspy voice, I thought, what about the poor people listening who are not me? Have you ever just wanted to crawl under the chair to get away from a raspy-voiced friend? We won’t get into the whiny voice or the squeaky voice or the 100-decibel voice right now; they are somebody else’s problem.

“Think of it as sexy, mom,” my daughter said. This from a kid who never even heard Lauren Bacall (Google her) seducing Humphrey Bogart (likewise.) I do not, however, sound like Lauren Bacall. More like a slug calling for help because she’s stuck on a piece of sandpaper. I think I would not get far with a phone porn career.

So I turned to my old friends at Kaiser. There was thumping and testing and X-raying and an excess, in my opinion, of references to my Smoker’s Lungs. Smoker’s Lungs, 58 years after I quit smoking? Well, sorry people, once a smoker, forever a wearer of that scarlet SL tattooed onto your chest. Pulmonologists know.

Thereafter, I visited with the pleasant young ENT guy, who gave me a crash course in Vocal Chords 101 before slipping a camera down for a video of my vocal chords in action. There are repulsive videos and repulsive videos, but I promise you there is nothing more repulsive than a video of your vocal chords from the inside. While we were reviewing the demo Vimeo – I guess repulsive videos are just another day at the office for ENT people – there was further review of the essential message of Vocal Chords 101: your vocal chords are nothing but a couple of muscles. Mine are, shall we say, no longer young.

“The word you are trying to avoid using,” I remarked to Doctor ENT, “is ‘flabby.’”

“I wasn’t going to say that,” he said. But I could see into his soul.

“You can’t reverse the aging process,” he said, somewhat un-gallantly; “but you can make things better!” Whereupon he set me up with a stern-voiced vocal therapist. She was utterly no-nonsense. “Do these exercises” – think warming up for the church choir – “for 20 minutes, three times a day.” An hour a day? When I can’t find 5 minutes to check the #%+&* Instagram feed? And anyway, the church choir definitely does not want me back.

I’m going to think of it as sexy.


  1. Thanks for expressing my same feelings about a ‘lost voice’. Perhaps it’s the pandemic and our forced isolation, who knows? Like the old saying goes: “use it or lose it”. I like your suggestion of using honey with your tea. However, I would recommend more intake of pure honey, nature’s pure food that we get from the bees. When I started beekeeping, I had a 90 plus year old beekeeper who always had honey in his diet. It’s a shame how little honey we all eat which has the most nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, etc. I always look forward to your writings and blogs. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    1. Indeed! It may be time for a whole new article on . . . bees! And honey! And urban beekeeping! It’s likely to start with a phone call to Alvin Huie, so beware. And thanks for reading.

  2. I have exactly the same problem, just developed in the last two years. I sound about 107, so maybe I should try your voice coach…

  3. Ah, Fran, I hear you! and I am younger than you! Covid and absence from public interactions and speaking has also left my VCs out of shape. I would recommend talking to yourself while checking email or Instagram. but not in public 🙂 They will label you as eccentric for talking to yourself, unless you are wearing ear buds. Then, they will think you are just talking to yourself. Hey, maybe DO the exercises in public with earbuds while checking Instagram and tell people you’re in a zoom call with your voice coach 🙂 Love yours writings!! keep up all the good you are doing, Fran!

    1. Now THAT’S a thought! I could wear a mask that reads “I’m on a zoom call” and just Fa La La my way around the streets of San Francisco. Considering the crazies we regularly have walking the streets, I’d probably go down as just one more. Thanks for dropping by!

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