From Our Readers

Left-Handed Woes

When I was in first-grade and practicing handwriting, I would swap my pencil between palms after every upper and lower case letter pairing, much to the dismay of my teacher, Ms. Kinnamon. I performed this maneuver as hastily as my favorite twelve o’clock endeavor: the negotiation of my paper bag dessert. A bargain was to be made for my stack of Oreo’s (double stuffed and chocolate enhanced odds) to any classmate with a ham and cheese lunchable or (fingers crossed) dunk-a-roo’s.

Pencils weren’t a bias though; my ambidextrously ridden hands interchanged the cereal spoon, the basketball while attempting to dribble, and the role of shoelace tie-r. 
When finally, my teacher forced a decision: which hand felt more comfortable? Pick a side. Naturally, I chose my left, helping to contribute to the (10%) minority of the left-handed population.

Oh the perils of being left in a right (handed) world. The rarity of finding left handed scissors, (I cannot cut a straight edge), having to write with a pencil or inky pen (the ones with erasers on the caps are the worst), please introduce me to a left hander whose pinky finger isn’t swollen or calloused from smudged notebook paper lead, not to mention the ridiculously disturbing fact that studies have shown we die sooner, on average nearly a decade (in the form of accidents, oh joy). Such irony to think I could potentially have shaved ten years off my life based on a simple, naïve decision to write more comfortably at age six.

In Africa, the left hand is to be avoided, as it is considered contaminated (its function is instead for personal hygiene). Apparently, we’re more likely to go insane (schizo) and love to booze (some inspiring qualities, huh?). Not to mention we drive right-footed, change gears with our right hand, even the buttons on the treadmill are poised on the right (except for the emergency stop string, phew).

When dinnertime commences I’m suddenly the smelly kid in class, as the seat to my left elbow is always vacant. Also, I walk slightly crooked, which I would like to link to my dominant left hand (and all the rest of my problems, I blame you, Ms. Kinnamon!) Even in Michelangelo’s, ‘Creation of Adam,’ (who, by the way was left handed) in the Sistine Chapel, God is reaching with his right, while Adam is with his left, ah the condemned left. We also have Angelina Jolie, (but I’m so Team Jen) and Tom Cruise (which doesn’t speak too highly for us).

Optimistically though, I have discovered a silver lining my fellow Southpaw friends. Oprah, Lewis Carroll, (‘The Jaberwocky’ is the best) Obama, Bob Dylan, Nietzsche, and Bart Simpson are all lefties. Furthermore, mark this on your calendars: August 13th is International Left-Handers Day (we have a day!). We are artists, which is a kind of cool and quirky attribute (though I seriously cannot paint, or draw) and it’s rare; I like being the minority. It was once believed polar bears were left-paws, but after researching some more, that might just be a myth…(pity, that would’ve been a bonus). Finally, in spite of the frequent troubles we have, one timeless tradition is ours: in the United States the wedding ring is worn on the left hand—hence, we can more easily stare at the sparkly diamond and committed vow “I do.”

Besides, we always have Lisa Kudrow on #teamleftie (Pheobe!), and that’s something to celebrate.

You can read more from Lindsey Conklin on her blog.

Featured image via New York Times.

  • Mélodie Melo

    yeaaah to the left handed ! I laugh so hard to your “The rarity of finding left handed scissors” and “the seat to my left elbow is always vacant.”. This is so true ! Story of my life. But I love being left handed.
    Also, it worth pointing that it can be such an advantage in some sports like tennis because your drive is not where it’s supposed to be and your opponent tend to get confused at the beginning of the game haha.
    Anyway I love your article, go left-handed !!!

  • Cheryl Keit Ang

    As a fellow southpaw, I identify with so much of this. But we’re a minority which is kinda cool, even for all the annoyances of living in a right-handed world!

  • Belay Jhocson

    LEFTIES UNITE! <3 In class, I find it difficult to be seated next to a right-handed person (which is all the freaking time) coz we keep on bumping elbows. Other than that, I'm happy that there are a lot of brilliant people who are lefties. WOOT WOOT!

  • Sarah Rauscher

    They say only left-handers are in their “right minds”. (The left side of the body is controlled by the right brain). I work in a museum and we once realized that 40% of us were lefties!

  • Stacey Campbell

    I’m also left-handed and work in a place where I have to use packing machines. They’re set up for right-handed people which can be awkward but I’ve just had to get used to it. Even the bread cutting machine that I have to use is only accessible from the right which is also awkward. I’m the only leftie there though.

    I am an artist too though so maybe it’s true that we use more of the creative side of the brain. When I studied art at college, a fair few of the class were lefties.
    I’ve actually just taken a break from drawing to write this and the last two fingers of my left hand are covered in smudged pencil. I usually try to start my drawings from the right hand side so that doesn’t happen.

  • Maria Martinez

    My two daughters and I are all lefties, which I hear is pretty rare, we’re all artsy and love to draw and write and unfortunately, are all super clumsy. It is nice to go out to eat with them because we never bump elbows at the dinner table….lol. My youngest is the odd one out, she’s a rightie even though her daddy is a lefty. Funny how that one worked out. . .

  • Jaimie Murphy

    I love being a leftie. So does my husband. We’re just cooler that way.

  • Rachel Sparkman Allison

    In college they had those desks that kind of folded out of the right armrest, but they were impossible for lefties to use! There were some left-handed ones at the end of the rows, but those got filled up pretty quickly by the other lefties in class. That’s probably been my biggest left handed annoyance!

  • Tracee Alar

    This reminded me of the book that I borrow in the library back in college called The Left-Hander’s guide. It was there that I learned that Marilyn Monroe was a leftie like me. And yes, the book also mentioned the part about people like us being more prone to being schizo and alcoholic. :-/

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