On being a leftyPosted: December 3, 2012
Yes, I am a lefty — in all ways. My political views are generally left-wing and I’m a left-handed person. You probably know about my political lefty-ness if you know me or have read some of my political posts on this site. (Or if you follow me on Twitter. And you can do that by clicking on the Twitter follow button on the right.) But I’m also interested in aspects of left-handedness, which affects such a small proportion of the population. About 10 percent of the world population, according to most estimates.
My leftyness is predominant but not total. I’m technically mixed-handed. I do some things with my right hand (cut with a scissors, throw a ball) but I’m left-handed for important things in life, such as writing, eating, mousing, and typing on an iPhone or iPad. If I was a guitar player, I’d play a left-handed guitar.
I can’t really explain it but lefties are always happy, even overjoyed, at discovering other similarly handed souls. A few years ago, I was visiting the New York office of my firm and four of us working on the same project went to lunch together. We were amazed to see that all of us were left-handed. We probably had a drink on that, even though it was only noon.
My two sons are both right-handed but when one married a left-handed woman, I was so happy because not only is she a terrific person but she is also left-handed (and so is her mother). When their first child was born, I kept watching for signs of leftyness but none appeared. Now they have a new baby and he’s only five months old but I’m hoping he will join our club.
My dear cousin Robert who lives in Colorado is left-handed and I believe we are the only people on either side of the family who are. We share lefty joy in politics too.
There doesn’t seem to be any definitive research on genetics regarding handedness. Genetic factors are ambiguous at best. A book — The Puzzle of Left-Handedness by Rik Smits — was published in 2011 by Reaktion Books and distributed by the University of Chicago Press. http://bit.ly/UCprFF Reviews indicate it’s a factual and interpretive look at handedness. Smits is a linguist and science journalist. I just put it on my wish list (in case any friends or relatives are reading this).
Of course, there are a lot of important, interesting and creative left-handers — five of the last seven US presidents were left-handed (Ronald Reagan was ambidextrous). And wouldn’t you love to be invited to a left-handers’ dinner party with Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Lenny Bruce, Carol Burnett, Charles Darwin, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Jon Stewart, Tina Fey, Marshall McLuhan, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Spike Lee, Queen Victoria and Ross Perot? Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney and Duane Allman are famous left-handed guitarists, who play on actual left-handed guitars, but some guitarists who are otherwise left-handed play guitar right-handed. Like Chris Martin, Billy Corgan, David Bowie, David Byrne and Elvis Costello.
If you’re lefty or interested in things sinistre, check out the Lefthanders Club, which offers information, advice and products for left-handers. There’s a monthly e-newsletter too. http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/index.html The language graphic above that focuses on positive references to left-handedness is from that website. Thanks to the anythinglefthanded.co.uk crew for the graphic.