13 August is “Left Handers’ Day,” and since Friday the 13th comes on a Monday this month, it means a whole week of bad luck – but only for those of the dextral persuasion.
My first inkling that things were not equal, at least handed-wise, was with the q-shaped school desks. Occasionally there was a single p-shaped desk per classroom, but that was a rarity, so us lefties adapted without complaint.
Later on it was penmanship, where part of the grade dismissed content and replaced it with “neatness.” To further embarrass us non-dextralites, they made us put little green plastic thingys on our pencils and pens as if we didn’t now how to grasp them properly. As late as 4th grade, Mrs. Mikulski grabbed and twisted my hand because I was “hooking” in order to write in cursive with the proper slant.
And all this happened in Public School.
True, there are many things that give us southpaws mild annoyance, but the majority of us are ambidextrous to varying degrees. I don’t know why mankind developed such a wide gap between right vs. left handedness (90% vs. 10% in the US) but I have my suspicions.
I believe it goes back to the ancients and the communal feed bowl mantra: eat with your right and wipe with your left. I’ll bet they figured that one out pretty quickly, and those who didn’t comply with the rules were not well received. It’s likely that entire communities that didn’t respect that basic rule of hygiene ceased to exist from either persecution or self-administered bacterial infection.
Even today some modern Asian countries view left-handedness as evil, and actively discourage children from becoming southpaws.
There are some advantages to being born with sinistral chirality. The QWERTY keyboard was set up in the early days of mechanical typewriters in order to slow down the user to prevent the strike arms from jamming. Made sense to put some of the more frequently used letters in the English alphabet on the left hand side. QWERTY is inherently inefficient, but it’s ubiquitous, and other better systems just don’t have a chance. ETAOINSHRDLU.
In some sports lefties have an advantage. Golf courses are designed to make it more challenging for right-handers. Baseball pitchers and those who bat left have a slight advantage. Boxing is another one, ditto Fencing. Shooting 9-ball or Rotation, if I missed a shot, the next one was set up for a lefty and not my opponent. Jimi Hendrix pulled off his amazing riffs by playing his guitar upside down and left-handed, without restringing the guitar.
I never bought a left-handed pair of scissors. I figured why give in to obvious unwarranted oppression, so I learned to cut paper with either hand. Sure we’re a minority, but who’s complaining?
It’s true. I am a Lefty who washes BOTH hands. Don’t be disturbed if I walk up, offer my right hand in cordial camaraderie and say, “Howdy! Which hand do YOU eat with?”