Today is International Lefthanders Day.
I am left-handed.
Or perhaps more accurately, I’m non-right-handed.
At least that is what Dr. Geschwind a professor of human genetics, neurology, and psychiatry at the University of California School of Medicine argues. Left-handers, it turns out, have less asymmetric brains with more even distribution over the two hemispheres. “Perhaps a more accurate conceptual way to think about them is as non-right-handers,” he said. “Many of them are much more likely to be ambidextrous and have fine motor abilities with their right hands.”
This is true.
I play baseball right-handed (the effect of being given the hand-me-down glove of a right-handed player), but I can swing the bat from the left side of the plate almost as well. I lack the power of my right-handed stance, but there was a time when I could slap the ball just about anywhere from the left side.
As a result of my right-handed dominance in baseball, I also play golf right-handed. A golf pro once told me that my handedness is actually ideal for golf. “A lefty who plays right-handed means that your dominant hand and arm are pulling through the zone. You should be able to clobber the ball.”
It hasn’t been the case, but I also carry a left-handed club in my bag and have used it on many occasions to excellent effect.
Watch me eat and you’ll see that I can be holding my fork with either hand and may even switch between bites.
As a pole vaulter, I made my coach crazy by shifting from a right-handed to a left-handed stance almost unconsciously.
When I was arm wrestling in underground, illegal gambling leagues in Brockton, Massachusetts, my left-handedness made my backers and me a lot of money. I would begin the night wrestling right-handed and do well, convincing the room that I was a solid, right-handed arm wrestler. Then I would switch to my left hand. Not knowing that I was left-handed, we would place big bets on my matches against actual left-handers who never suspected that I am equally strong in both arms.
We made a lot of money.
Despite all of this, I’m not really ambidextrous. I write exclusively with my left hand and favor my left in most other circumstances.
Recently I learned that six of the last twelve Presidents were left-handed, along with former Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Al Gore, Bob Dole, John Edwards, and many more.
In fact, the only four right-handed Presidents of the last 40 years were Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden.
Draw your own conclusions.
Of course, violent criminals and murderers are also far more likely to be left-handed, so perhaps re-draw those conclusions.
The world is also aggressively designed for right-handed people. Everything from doorknobs and gear shifts to wire-bound notebooks are designed for right-handers. Cup holders are always on the right. Can openers are designed to be used with the right hand. Scissors and vegetable peelers and cameras are all designed for righties.
We shake hands with our right hand. Most musical instruments are designed for right-handed people. If you hold a glass measuring cup in your left hand, you’re stuck reading metric measurements.
Even the act of writing, left to right across the page, is designed for right-handed people.
The list is endless.
When choosing a seat at a dinner table, left-handers are always seeking the left side at all costs. If we have a right-handed person to our left, elbows will bump constantly throughout the meal. Yet this is the burden of the left-hander. Never in my life have I seen a right-handed person make a seating decision based upon the left-hander at the table.
They are completely oblivious to this need.
For all of my life, I’ve watched in astonishment as right-handers sit with impunity at a dinner table, never aware of the subtle but absolute needs of their left-handed brethren.
To choose a seat, absent calculation or requirement, must be a blessed thing indeed.
But here’s the strangest and possibly most frustrating thing about being left-handed:
When people notice that you’re left-handed, they often ask, “You’re left-handed?”
They almost always ask this question while you’re signing your name or completing a form or writing a note with your left hand.
It’s a weird question since the answer to the question is obvious, yet failing to answer or pointing out the stupidity of the question makes you look like a jerk.
Still, I often opt for the nonresponse. Sometimes I toss in a subtle glare.
Must be the criminal in me.
To all my left-handed friends out there (12% statistically), enjoy International Lefthanders Day. I don’t think it’s going to score us a free ice cream or half-price admission to a movie, but please know that you’re not alone in this difficult, right-handed world.