Many members of the British royal family are left-handed; southpaws make fantastic tennis players and 70% of the creative arts are dominated by lefties.
By: Pat Jacobs
Being left-handed in a right-handed world can be frustrating at times.
Left-handed guitarists and violinists must restring their instruments, while left-handed saxophonists do not exist. Gum wrappers are right-handed (really!), as are apple corers, Polaroid cameras, scissors, can openers, wrist watches, and the typical power saw and rifle. Even merry-go-rounds and the average classroom desk favor the right-handed.
The kitchen can be very treacherous; as a result of mishaps and accidents from using right-handed equipment, guests, family, and a lot of lefties themselves simply conclude it’s due to clumsiness. And that’s not always so.
Right-handed tools causes one to use the wrong leverage and pressure. Counterclockwise equipment would enable lefties to achieve the proper equilibrium needed.
There are shops that carry various kinds of left-handed items and supplies, but even if you’re in a large city, they’re often in very out-of-the-way locations. Since the advent of the Internet, thou, this dilemma has been resolved. But be forewarned: Online shops are not cheap and shipping/handling fees are high also. Possibly the easiest option is to seek out products that can be used by either hand at a couple of good dollar stores or a K-Mart/Wal-Mart in your area. And THESE stores are everywhere.
Gadgets aren’t the only block. Throughout history, being left-handed was viewed as negative. Even today, sometimes I will STILL get unsolicited comments: “Hey, you got your watch on the wrong hand”, “Why are you writing that way, here, let me position that for you”, “You’re not cutting that right. You’re WHAT?! Oh, then you weren’t taught any better.” (I kid you not!)
Teachers, and especially in Catholic schools, would traditionally always try to make a leftie go against nature and attempt to write right handed(Ronald Reagan was a born lefty who was switched to the right), which can cause stuttering or other problems.
Left-handed students are often among the best AND the worst in their class. It’s a paradox, for there are many lefties in gifted and advanced classes; 20% of Mensa members consist of Left-handers. Yet there are also a high number of lefties with learning disabilities and in remedial classes, and their dropout rate are higher.
Children were often punished for not using their right hand, for it was widely believed that being a lefty was a sign of Satan!
In many cultures, the left hand (and even the left side of the body)were considered bad. The Eskimos believed that every lefty was a sorcerer. In Japan, a man could divorce his wife for being left-handed. And until very recently in Taiwan, lefties were strongly encouraged to switch to the right hand.
Many languages, including English, use the same word for “right” and its meaning is “correct, proper.” In those same languages, the word for “left” has many negative meanings; “clumsy, awkward, insincere, unlucky, malicious,” etc. (Ouch!) The Italian word for left is sinistra, from which the word “sinister” is derived. In French, it’s gauche, which also means “clumsy or awkward.”
Even sun bathers traditionally associated their left sides with evil, since people facing north would see the sun set, or disappear, on their left.
Did you know that many members of the British royal family are left-handed?
Which writing hand a person uses is NOT an absolute indicator of favored hand, because there are many who may write with their left, but use their right hand for everything else, or vice versa. One person in ten is left-handed. If both parents are lefty, 50% of the kids will be. If both are right-handed, only 2% will be lefty. There are more lefty boys than girls. No one knows why. Older women will produce more lefties than younger ones. 4 of the 5 original MacIntosh computer designers were left-handed. There are studies that imply that lefties don’t live as long as right-handed people. It’s because (so they say )lefties have a weaker immune system, and are more accident-prone. (OKAYYY. Probably brought on using a very right-handed product!)
There’s even a theory that being left-handed is due to brain damage during birth, and that difficult or stressful births happen more frequently among left-handed babies.
In spite of the inconveniences lefties have dealing in a mostly right-handed world, there are a few things that lefties do BETTER than righties:
1. BOWL-The spin that makes the ball curve into the strike pocket is counterclockwise and uncomfortable to a rightie. But to a lefty, it’s clockwise and familiar. Lefties have been conditioned to it from turning doorknobs, screws, etc.
2. PLAY PIANO-When learning piano, you’re taught the treble staff (Right-hand keys) first, then the bass (Left-hand keys )in relation to it. A lefty plays the base more strongly and easily, making for a more balanced performance (Cole Porter and Errol Gardner were lefties).
3. TYPE-Most of the major keys are on the left side of the typewriter.
4. PLAY BASEBALL-Lefties excel at this. The batter is nearer first base, the first baseman covers the field better, and the pitcher keeps an eye on first batter.
5. PLAY PING-PONG-A right-handed opponent of a lefty is faced with an unfamiliar spin and hop on the ball. Also, a ball that’s met by a rightie’s weak backhand becomes a strong lefty forehand. Look out!
Swimming also favors the lefty. Neurologists have shown they adjust more easily to underwater vision. Remember Mark Spitz?
Southpaws make fantastic tennis players; it’s been estimated that at any given time, about 40% of the top pros are lefties.
One of every four Apollo astronauts were left-handed. And there’s a high number of engineers and drafters, for lefties have tremendous math ability.
70% of the creative arts are dominated by lefties. A few other fields are also included here:
Sarah Jessica Parker
Queen Elizabeth II
George Bush (the 1st President Bush, father of George W.)
Kermit the Frog (His creator, Jim Henson, was a leftie)
On the infamous side, there’s Jack the Ripper, The Boston Strangler, John Dillinger, and Tiny Tim. (Well, we can’t all be perfect).
There’s a special day for left-handers on August 13th called Left-handers International Day (It was first celebrated on a Friday the 13th, 1976, by the LI organization to address all the myths and “theories” about lefties).
One final thing: If you are right-handed, DO NOT sit next to a leftie if you’re both eating or writing. Elbows will collide!
About the Author:
Pat Jacobs is currently the writer/producer of “The World Of 1960s Music” blog on Yahoo 360 (degrees).
She also writes features for www. ehow.com (how-to articles) and www.associatedcontent.com (various non-fiction).
She can be reached at Patj25@yahoo.com.