Sunday, November 20, 2011

Left Out

"I'm a lefty," Barack Obama joked  as he signed official papers as U.S. President.
"Get used to it."

Our country has a long, ugly history of discrimination aimed at certain groups – blacks, immigrants, gays. Religious persecution. Haves versus have-nots. It seems like we thrive on conflict; we have to have some group to demonize to feel superior. Well, this rant is not quite to that level, but there is a group of individuals that have quietly suffered in a world not designed for them…a world that specifically tries to make their experience trying.

I am speaking about left-handers.

I am a lefty. I am not ambidextrous. There is nothing I do right-handed, save one activity which I will not mention here due to decorum. Anything done with my right hand feels awkward, unnatural. Trust me – I have tried. When I was ten years old I tried to play golf with my dad’s right-handed clubs and ended up flipping the club upside-down with the toe on the ground so I could swing lefty. That worked. Years ago my then-wife (and fellow lefty) bought me a guitar. And since I had never even tried to play a guitar before, I figured I would learn right-handed. It just never worked. The rhythm hand for a righty is the right hand and I had no rhythm in that hand – my rhythm hand was busy pressing down strings to make chords. My brain rebelled. The guitar went into the closet. I should have just done what Jimi did - flip it over and play it left-handed.

There is a school of thought that says lefties are creative due to using their right brains. Half correct. We are very creative, but it has nothing to do with which side of the brain we tap into. It has everything to do with trying to deal with a world not created with us in mind. Case in point – a manual can-opener. You hold it with your left hand and turn the crank with the right hand – it is designed for righties. Watch a lefty try to use a manual can opener and you will understand what I am talking about. You start a car by turning a key with your right hand. And this is after you open the car door from the right side.

I am passive aggressive by nature so I’ve done a couple of things just to show righties what we have to deal with. For example, my home and office computers are set up lefty, meaning that the mouse has the buttons reversed and resides to the left of the monitor. I love to watch righties struggle with it as they hit a button and get that annoying ‘What’s this?’ popup on the screen….they think something’s wrong with my computer and they will look at me. I just say ‘Left-handed’ and smile.

When I bought my house nine years ago, which I designed from scratch, I designed the kitchen to be left-handed. I am sure the ninety percent of the population that are right-handed are doing a collective ‘WTF are you talking about’ at that statement, but trust me. I thought this through. Righties don't have to.

I have renters in that house now, and I have no idea if they’re right or left-handed, but there is a part of me that hopes they’re righties and are wondering at this moment, as mom is preparing Sunday breakfast, why she seems to have to make awkward moves to get around that kitchen. Because the owner meant it to be that way. When I go through a buffet line, and if righties preceded me, the vats of food show their marks – spoon on the right, the right side of the vat empty. I scoop my food up lefty and leave the spoon on the left, marking my presence.
A task as simple as writing is even a chore for lefties. Ever wonder why many lefties have that crook in their wrists when they write? It is because our hand is going over what we just wrote. If we are using a pen, that is why you see smudged writing. That is where the crook came from – we are trying to get our hand out of the way; doing whatever we can to adapt to your world. I choose not to conform. I hold my hand like anyone else would. Deal with my smudges. If it is some kind of official document, I put a napkin under my hand. 

I noticed there seems to be more lefties than there used to be. Thank goodness. I believe the statistic when I was young was that three percent of the world was lefty. Now it is up to about ten percent. And I believe that if there wasn’t religious persecution of us centuries ago (We were considered witches and burned at the stake. The Latin word for Left is Sinistra, or Sinister. The French word is Gauche, meaning clumsy or unrefined), and had teachers in the last century not forced lefties to write with their right hands and turned them into stutterers in the process, that percentage would be much higher. I would imagine it would be close to where it is supposed to me, which in theory would be half of the world.

And speaking of schools, look at a student desk. Righties get a nice extension to rest their right arm on. Lefties have to let their arm hang out with no support. Bastards.

So lefties of the world unite! Change your mouse buttons so you have to ‘left-click’ to open the menu. It is a small step but a good one to show these righties what we have to deal with. Don’t adapt - we've done that for long enough. 

Solidarity, my sinister brothers and sisters.


Moxie Dawn said...


Anonymous said...

From someone who throws left-handed, and does everything else with the right, and after reading this..... I can say, "Jerry, you are not right."

Jerry B said...

More specifically, Dawn, L.H.W.P.P.

Just Me said...

I am surprised you have difficulty turning on your car. :) The rest of us have to drive with our non-precise hand on the steering wheel and our precision on the gear shift. Now you understand why we drive so bad in traffic.

Jerry B said...

They have this thing called automatic transmission. Might want to look into it :)

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you're not a bigger NASCAR fan - all left turns.