Left-handed people make up about 10% of the population. We are pretty unique – though not as unique as green eyed people who make up between 1 – 2% of the population. I think a left handed, green eyed person would be an anomaly so rare that the Guinness book of world records may seek them out. OK, maybe that’s a little dramatic but you get what I am going for.
Anyway, I am just a plain Jane lefty.
I can’t be certain but I think my mom may have had a large role in bringing to light how different it is to bea left hander. Not in a bad way. She always took note of people who are left-handed like me and in turn, I do the same. It is rather easy to spot a lefty in movies. They pretty much just look weird. And the opposite of you (as a lefty) as all right handed people are your mirror image.
My dad was always proud that I was left handed because it gave me an advantage in tennis and though I became pretty good, when my childhood house was sold, I didn’t continue it which in my later years I realise, is a little bit of a shame.
I also recently discovered when trying to teach a six-year old how to tie her shoe laces that I at 28 years old, also don’t quite know how. My knots are super weird and loose. She ended up shouting at me and I was forced to reconsider my entire existence.
My poor mom struggled when I was little. Teaching me to knit was tough and I fully understand why I was never able to become good at it. I recall those tiny little scissors that only left-handed kids could use. They were round nosed and each handle was a different colour. I vividly remember getting in trouble one year for having lost them because they had been so expensive and painful to obtain (I found them in a cupboard a few months after).
I am one of those who stayed true to all of my left handedness. You get some traitors who learn to use their right hand to cut paper with (which I don’t blame them for because the right handed scissors I use in my left hand are actually folding the paper rather than cutting it as I hold them upside down, forcing them to go in the wrong direction)
There are even some who use their computer mouse in their right hand.
Not me. I have remained steadfast as a beacon to my people. When I began learning guitar in high school, I restrung an acoustic guitar so that I could learn to play left handed. I always wanted a steel string but I was told that you could not restring a right handed one as it would snap the neck and a left-handed steel string was exorbitantly priced. Watching Jimmi Hendrix playing his restrung upside down right-handed guitar suggested otherwise now that I think about it.
I never did get good enough to pursue it further and it was just another venture that I gave up on. I am an all or nothing person it seems.
I have met a fair few lefties in my life-time and I think the most noteworthy time was when my previous employer and her husband along with a new employee, myself and my boyfriend all turned out to be a little strange...
We’ve created enough of a gap in the market that there are stores that stock items just for us. Left-handedworld.com and Lefty’s Left Hand Store are online shops that sell everything we could ever dream of. From hand guards, to oven mitts, tools, kitchen utensils and of course scissors. Even Ned Flanders in the Simpsons owned the Leftorium as he himself is a lefty and sells everything left handed.
There are many notable celebs who are lefties too; Paul McCartney, Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Jack the Ripper, Mark Twain, Lewis Caroll, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Barack Obama, Jennifer Lawrence, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga to name a few. The list is rather substantial and mostly to my liking. As a minority, we tend to see the famous lefties as representatives and if we aren’t fond of them then it is a little bit of a disappointment.
The word ‘sinistra’ is Italian for left. Almost sinister. We are not witches though and thank goodness I wasn’t forced to try and use my right hand. Neither of my parents was or is left handed. My mom admitted to taking the crayon out of my left and putting it in the right hand as a toddler but I remained this way. Now she just points out that I write with the “wrong” hand.
I only recently discovered when I was writing out an invoice for a lady who noted my handedness, that it is quite an issue in African culture. Generally when one extends a hand to receive or give an item, it is done so with the right hand stretched out and the left tapping lightly on the crook of the right arm in a gesture of respect. The left hand is associated with disrespect and bad manners. She had been having a tough time trying to teach her young left handed daughter this.
Scouts have a handshake variation where they use the left hand. It has origins that trace back to a chief who explained that only the brave shake left hands as one has to transfer their shield to the other hand in order to do so.
No matter your culture or upbringing, it never gets easier going through life doing everything backwards.
Here are just a few things that are part of our daily battle:
Scissors as mentioned before – the cutting motion doesn’t happen and no adult is going to buy left handed scissors. I wouldn’t even know where to get the grown up version.
I could only ever dream of using a fountain pen because as soon as the ink comes out, my hand would smudge it. It is the same with gel pens which also had a tendency to get stuck. I found out it was because they are meant to be pulled across the page, not pushed.Most things artistic really but mostly charcoal which results in a blackened hand and a smudged image.
Story of my life
Can openers are my mortal enemy. I can only attempt to use one by holding the utensil in my left hand and then weaving my right hand over the top to twist the little turny thing. There are only ever two results. Complete failure or else a very raggedy can that has been cut so that it is just raw aluminium exposed. None of that safety lip that it should have because I have somehow managed to cut all the way underneath it.
I recently purchased a soda stream and my boyfriend who is a more well-adjusted lefty, finds no problem using it. I on the other hand struggle as I have to come in with the bottle in the left hand, and then put it into the right hand so that it can screw in properly and then depress the button to inject carbon bubbles with my left hand.
My right hand is pretty stupid. On occasion I attempt to brush my teeth with it and it may as well be an infant trying to use my toothbrush.
Corkscrews I have only just realised are another one. Even though I am able to use my left hand, it has to twist clockwise which is not natural for me.
In fact most lefties stir their drinks anti-clockwise.
There are also those stupid Colgate shampoo bottles with the little indentations for your fingers for ease of access. Nope. Mine all go the opposite way.
Knives are also a little troublesome as the serration is on the other side. Again I was determined to swap my cutlery around as a lefty and also read that you need to use your strong hand to saw at your food, which may work in theory but the knife is made to be used in the other hand.
When it comes to sporting there are certain places where a lefty just has to relent unless they are willing to spend a little more on specialised equipment. And even if cost isn’t an issue, to find that equipment is another story.
It’s not all misery. I meant at least the car gears are on the left so that’s something.
And actually that is pretty much all that I can think of.
We are proud of what we are though. Holding the pen all weirdly and some of us even turning the paper sideways and hunching over like it is some sort of ritual.
We have gotten the hang of this right handed world, made all sorts of plans to make things work for us. No wonder we tend to be so emotional and broody. The world was not made for us but we continue forward.