The right way and the wrong way

Mar. 09, 2014 @ 06:45 PM

I am part of a singularly discriminated against minority group. I have been left behind.

I am a lefty.

Like many people of the lefty persuasion, I write left, I eat left, I throw left, I bat left and I brush left. I also dial left, type left and I think I think left. If I were in England, I’d even drive left.

Like many great historical figures, including Alexander the Lefty, I was born that way and I have been a lefty all my life, unable even as a toddler to use a right-handed corkscrew.

And so I know what it’s like to really suffer, to twist my arm to write on those right-handed school desks and have ink stains running down the side of my hand and onto my forearm even while I’m using a pencil.

I can empathize with others who feel oppressed by right-handed scissors. I can appreciate the disappointment of those who are not allowed to play second base or shortstop, particularly during football games.

I know I am not alone. According to the most recent statistical research, which was compiled by righties, around 12 to 15 percent of the population are southpaws. Around 27 to 29 percent have no idea what southpaw means. Forty-three percent couldn’t find it on a map.

(Incidentally, about 6 percent of the population is ambidextrous. Seventy-four percent are amphibious. The rest are ambivalent.)

Researchers aren’t exactly certain what makes a person left-handed, although it may be the complete inability of the right hand to make a yo-yo go around the world. There is some evidence that genetics plays a role, even if it wasn’t nominated for an Oscar in a supporting role.

Alternatively, left-handedness simply may have been an evolutionary adaptation for people who wanted their dominant hand to be nearer the salad fork.

While this would not explain kale, it is why, for instance, more vegetarians are lefties.

Or it may be that more lefties are vegetarians. In any case, it is also more common for lefthanders to be artistically inclined, to have high IQs, to be serial killers and to be able to remember the second verse of “Hang On Sloopy.”

Yet, despite their great historical accomplishments, which include the first basemen’s mitt, for centuries lefties have been treated poorly, receiving left-handed compliments and being unable to use right-handed can openers.

Righties, who dominated the media and forced us to read left-to-right, consequently rarely understood what it was like to live in a world where everything’s on the wrong side and if you use a spiral notebook, you leave indentations on your palm.

And then, of course, they break their right wrist, like my right-handed wife recently did. And suddenly they find out what all of us southpaws have always known: that everybody needs a helping hand.

Neil Offen can be reached at theneiloffencolumn@yahoo.com.