The Curse Of Being A Lefty



As a general rule I like being in the minority. I'm one of only seven registered Democrats in Gila County, for example, and one of only two who are also card-carrying members of the American Civil Liberties Union.

This might seem a lonely existence to most, but it means I get to carry on an endless banter with the town's GOP (for Grating Old Party) members, most notably Connie Bullock and Barbara Brewer, about how much better off we will be when Howard Dean is safely ensconced in the White House.

I also enjoy being one of only 13 males in the entire Rim country who don't spit on a regular basis. I won't say that I have never spit, but I will say I have never spit for no good reason at all just because it's what real men do.

I just don't get it. Spitting is not a babe magnet, and I don't think males produce more saliva than females. So what's it all about?

Anyway, being in the minority is generally a good thing, at least for me. But I recently came across an exception to that rule -- being left-handed.

I was doing my usual scholarly journalistic research in the sports pages of The Arizona Republic when the following headline caught my eye:

"Lefties have bad rap, big edge"

Now I have always worn my left-handedness as a kind of red badge of courage. I truly believe the theory that left-handed people are more creative despite the fact that we are placed at a great disadvantage in this world.

Those of you among the world's 10 percent who are left-handed are nodding in agreement. You have experienced firsthand the frustration of trying to cut with scissors made to fit the right hand.

You have been forced to write with your left hand draped over the spine of a spiral notebook at one of those small school desks that are mounted on the right hand side for the convenience of right-handers.

You have had to shift a manual transmission with your weaker hand.

But the bias against left-handers goes much deeper than tools created specifically for the ease of right-handers.

"Throughout history," according to a website called Lefties, "the left side of the body has been associated with darkness, ill-fortune and evil spirits, while the right has been linked to light, luck and virtue ... The Bible, the Talmud and the Koran are rife with distinctions between saintly righties and sinister lefties. Satan sits to God's left and is often portrayed as left-handed."

Now, I can live with all of the above as just part of the minority experience. What I have a problem with is the opening paragraph of the article in The Republic, which, incidentally, was written by Israel Gutierrez and originally appeared in the Miami Herald:

"According to some medical literature, left-handed people are more accident-prone, are more likely to have their fingers amputated by power tools and suffer more wrist fractures. Left-handers are more susceptible to allergies, bed-wetting, depression, drug abuse, epilepsy, schizophrenia, sleeping disorders, suicide attempts and certain learning disabilities."

Appearing on the sports page, you know this is only the lead-in to a sports connection, hence the "big edge" part of the headline. And, sure enough, the second paragraph reads:

"But they're also pretty tough to guard in basketball."

Now, I am a big basketball fan, and I still play on occasion, and at my age and height I'll take any advantage I can get.

But somehow being difficult to guard on the basketball court doesn't quite make up for all the disorders and ailments that lefties are subject to.

My research turned up another article, this one written by H.A. Loudermilk in the Daily Aztec. Loudermilk points out the ultimate disadvantage for lefties -- that our average lifespan is 66 years old compared to 75 for righties.

That's pretty sobering, but if you're left-handed you have to love his theory for why this is the case.

"I think this goes back to the cliche, ‘The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long,'" Loudermilk writes.

Then he points out that while the world is populated with right-handers, it is run by lefties. As evidence, he cites the fact that while lefties comprise just 10 percent of the population, one of every three U.S. presidents has been left-handed -- including my guy Bill Clinton and their guy George Bush.

"So go ahead, right-handed world, try and make us conform to your mass-produced goods, your table etiquette, your stick shifts," Loudermilk concludes. "We lefties will survive and continue to hold positions of power."

Now if only the same were true of my beloved Democrats.

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