Friday, August 15, 2008

Slanted left

I sprained my wrist this morning, my left wrist.  Dominant-hand-wrist.  Talk about a bummer. I do have the strange talent of being able to write with a pen in each hand simultaneously-- the left backwards and the right forewards.  And they both look legible. I know, I know, I'm either very gifted or have entirely too much time on my hands (get it, on my hands!)  Other than that, however, my right hand might as well be just for show.  I'm so left-handed, I practically walk slanted to the left. I can hardly hold a spoon with my right hand, let alone get it to my mouth without spilling.  I know, I tried at lunch today.  And don't ask me to throw a ball.  It practically dribbles out of my hand, a mere four feet from where I'm standing.  Poor Jamaica runs all the way across the yard, hunting where the ball usually lands, so I have to call her back.  Not a pretty sight. 

It's a funny thing, being left-handed.  I was the only one in my immediate family who was left-handed, the only grandchild--my grandmother was about as prejudiced against left-handedness as she was everything else.  I was always pointed out as odd, or even wrong, for not having conformed to the proper way to do things.  She could would never have allowed it, if I'd been her child, and thought it was poor parenting on my mom's part (never her beloved son's) that I'd turned out that way.  My parents always said they gave a shot at trying to put spoons and balls in my right hand, but I was having none of it.  So, I've been left-handed all my life (which might be one of the most obvious statements I've ever made here, but just go with it):  at crowded tables I instinctively looked for the left-handed corners so I wouldn't bump elbows with anyone; in school I wrote dragging my bent-sideways arm across my pencil and got lead all over the side of my hand, and was terrible at using scissors until "Lefties" were first produced; in gym class,
 I batted left, threw left, and in vain tried to golf right-handed (I'm still waiting to try my first lefty clubs).  And in India, I made the colossal mistake of eating with my left hand when in public.  Feeling every eye on me, I realized my error.  Left hands are used for taking care of other business, if you know what I mean, and it's completely impolite to use them for eating.

One of the few people I knew growing up who was also left-handed, was the boy across the street.  The Beve was an amazing athlete--dribbled, shot and pitched with his left hand, and 40 years ago, it was even harder to stop a left-hander than it is now.  More people were like my grandmother, pushed utensils right until it stuck.  But Beve and I married, proud to be left. I remember seeing a t-shirt one time that said, "If the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, it must mean that left-handers are the only ones in their right minds."  We've taken that to heart.  When it came to our children, we just put those utensils and crayons down in front of them, let them choose to pick them up however they wished.  E's right-handed, except when it comes to sports--but she'd rather go left on a basketball court than right, anyday.  J's about as right-handed as I am left, and SK?  She's one of the most truly ambidexterous people I've ever known--eats right-handed, writes left, and everything else is up for grabs.

One day my sister, the Dump, and I were talking about the things that separate people.  I'd told her that I sometimes wonder what would happen if people from each race had to marry a person from a different race. Eventually we'd all be the same color, a sort of dusty beige, with darkish hair.  How then would we divide ourselves?  Would handedness be the thing that determined that one person is better than another?  Perhaps. It's instinctive to divide into groups, to make distinctions one way or another.  I can wish all I want that we weren't like this, but it's cell-deep.  I do it myself.  I am drawn to people who are educated as I am, have the same fundamental philosophies of life that I do.  If it isn't ethnicities that do it, it'll be something.  And though I've rarely experienced the downside of prejudice (though sometime I'll write about being a young white woman in India), I get it.  I'm left-handed.  I'm a woman.  And I'm aging. There's something for every one, isn't there?  And if we think about it, that alone should make it a ridiculous thing that we cast aspersions on people because they're a minority.  After all, the only people in the entire world who aren't minorities are white men. and in truth, they're really a minority as well.  So let's hear it for minorities.  Let's hear it for our differences (especially for being left-handed)!

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