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.