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14 August 2012

Today's topic: Lefties

If you know me then you're aware that I'm a leftie. No, I'm not talking about political persuasion, which for many can and does change throughout life, what I'm talking about is being left-handed.

Yesterday was Left-Handers' Day. It comes around just once a year so celebrate while you can. Consider this advance notice for the 2013 observation. So what do we do to celebrate? Drive on the other side of the road? Walk down the left side of corridors? Reverse the rotation of revolving doors? Part our hair on the other side? For many, Left Handers Day truly is more of an observation than a celebration, a time to reflect on how we're "different" which is a far cry from a party.

For me, growing up a leftie in a right-handed world was, as I'm certain it was for others similarly afflicted, a challenge and at times a pain. My earliest memory of this particular ailment was in elementary school. Of the 3 Rs, reading, riting and rithmetic, guess which puts a young southpaw at an obvious disadvantage? It wasn't reading even though what some call a reading disorder (dyslexia) seems to occur more frequently with left-handers. It mirrors "normal" recognition of certain symbols which is to say that the visual perceptions of one who suffers through dyslexia are often like mirror images of the perceptions held by the norm, the great majority as it were and are therefore the exact opposite, as different as right is from left. Have you ever considered that this particular disorder looks quite "normal" to more lefties than righties? Science agrees.

Rithmetic isn't a strong suit for most left handed people, at least according to the illustration below. Let's leave that one alone for now except to say that I can get it wrong even while using a calculator, which incidentally didn't exist when I started school. Instead think on what it's like for a lefty learning to write, which IS the most obvious disadvantage one can encounter at an early age. Lefties know that when we write with a #2 pencil for a brief period of 3 to 5 lines, say in a ruled composition book, that the butt of our left hand changes color. Keep going and it all begins to blur a bit, not intentionally or out of laziness or carelessness, but because a lefty drags their hand across what they've just written.

How the brain works

And don't even get me started about writing with a pen. Have you seen the movie "The Jerk" which stars Steve Martin? There's a scene where he's in the bathtub reading a letter aloud, the letter gets wet, the ink runs and he does his best to "read" the distorted results, "Dear Nabbbin, Rouuu here eeerrr I searrrr forward to tell mmmuuuhhhuuurrr to be..." You get the idea.

I was recently complimented for my "beautiful handwriting" which as far as I'm concerned isn't handwriting at all, but rather "printing" in that it isn't cursive, although being left-handed, at least by some, is considered a curse, if not a cause to curse, but I digress. I'm certain much of my neatness with written communication is more about making it as neat as possible because I know I'm going to smear it.

Being left-handed can be a bit of a handicap when it comes time to be seated for a meal. If the person seated to your left is right-handed you will most likely bump elbows, especially in more "intimate" settings. Pens and pencils with logos labels and such, at least every one that I've encountered, are for right-handed users. Most decorative coffee mugs, the ones with slogans, art and the like are decorated on the right side of the handle but not the left, backwards for lefties in that it makes us look rather self-absorbed, always carrying our designer mugs so that only we see the art. Scissors are a challenge for southpaws however most other tools aren't. Nearly all toilet flush handles or levers are on the left side of the unit wheres a lot of urinals flush from the right. What's up with that?

So have I convinced you that being left-handed is at the very least, different? At times it can be a bother, but a disorder? Never! I suppose the most practical tip I can offer is to leave well enough alone. I have no memory of the events but I'm told that when I was very young a well meaning family member did their best to rid me of this malady by moving whatever I grabbed with my left hand into my right. "That's horrible!" Is that what you thought? Or maybe, "Well that explains a lot about him." It doesn't matter. I know it was done for the right reasons, not wanting to see a loved one having to struggle later in life, but from what I've heard and read, it is better to let an individual decide instead of deciding for them. After all, a tiger doesn't change his spots, does he?


Until next time...

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