I’m a Lefty

In case you did not know it, I am left handed.  Well sort of…

I grew up in an era when left handed was considered abi-normal.  If you do not get that reference, watch Young Frankenstein.  I highly recommended it…F’n hilarious.

Anyway, I still can see clearly my first grade teacher hissing at me from the front of the classroom because my pencil was comfortably wiggling about in my left hand.  Meanwhile, the piece of yarn she tied around my right hand acted as nothing more than a duster for my desk.

She was so annoyed with my utter disobedience that the teacher, and I assume the school administration, sent a note home to my parents complaining about my insubordination.  For the most part, my parents took the side of the school, as they should.  However, in this case, they performed a basic experiment.  They sat me down at the kitchen table, and asked me to write my name with each hand.  After careful scientific analysis, they determined that there was no legible difference between my right and left hand when it came to penmanship.  They both sucked equally.

My mom answered the note from the school with a polite note of her own telling them to leave me alone.  Yay, a point for my parents.

Because of my propensity towards the whole southpaw thing, I remember the debate about left-handed pitchers and batters in baseball.  It just was not acceptable…until the managers discovered it offered the team with said leftie, an advantage.

Meanwhile, every sport I tried, the coach, or fellow junior athlete forced me into a right handed stance or grip.  I didn’t’ know any better.  Hell, it was not until much later in life I remembered the yarn on my right wrist story.  Even when I took up golf much later in life, the golf shop sold me a right hand set of clubs.

The Army, the same thing, here is a rifle, hold it like this, and shoot the silhouettes’ down range.  Turned out I was pretty good at it.  Especially since, I could count on three fingers or less how many times I fired a weapon before basic training.  However, as the number of rounds increased, my accuracy decreased.  The range instructor sent me to the “rifle lab.”  It was the speech therapist pulling me out of class in fourth grade all over again.  There was something wrong with me!

I was not in the olive drab trailer the army called the “rifle lab” a minute when a drill instructor looked at me, held out his hand asking for my dummy slip, and snatched it from my fingers.  He looked at the card that explained my groupings suck after ten rounds, and handed me a piece of cardboard with a hole in it.

“Now hold that at arm’s length, then pull it towards your eye.  Don’t think about it, just do it.”

And I did.  By the time the square piece of cardboard was nearly touching my nose, my left eye was looking through the hole at the drill sergeant who handed it to me.

“There is your problem son, your left eye dominant.”  He grabbed a piece of plastic off a nearby table and handed it to me.  “Take this, and switch your rifle to your left shoulder and you will be right as rain.”

The piece of plastic was a brass deflector.  The M-16 rifle ejects its brass out the right side of the rifle.  I spent the next several weeks suffering burns to various parts of my body because hot sparks and brass ejected into my face, and bounced into my BDU coat, along with various other parts of my body.  Such distractions cost me an expert marksman badge because twice I needed to lift my right arm to brush away flaming hot brass that rested between my arm and the sand bag.

So entrenched was the right handed mentality by the time I reached early adulthood that when I took up golf in my late twenties, I didn’t even consider buying left handed gloves.  I am convinced that the reason my slice will not go away is because my right side does not have a clue what it is supposed to do.

Remember the “rifle lab?”

There are challenges writing with a left hand.  Leonardo da Vinci wrote backwards to avoid smearing the ink across the page.  For twelve years, the heel of my left hand was a smeared grey from pencil graphite.  Often, so was the artwork I was working on.  I was a pencil guy, and did not much care for ink.  Probably should have rethunk that.  Writing on a whiteboard…forget it!

However, the designer of the helicopter was kind enough to put the collective (look it up) on the left side, making writing with the proper hand easy.  Meanwhile, my right-handed stick buddies suffered as a result of this farsighted design element.  In fact, one of two scary moments in my life was when my right-handed stick buddy took his left hand off the collective to check something.

Curious, about the story…please read it.

I can do many things with both hands.

  • Drink my coffee
  • Cut a line with a paint brush
  • Write with a pen or pencil, though my left is better, mostly because of all the practice it gets
  • Manipulate the computer mouse

Recently, I made the decision to change everything over to left hands.  When I took up snowboarding, I went “goofy.”  I moved the mouse to the left side of my desk and when I remember, attempt to eat with my left hand.  The latter is much more difficult than I imagined.  Apparently decades of practice has its advantage.

I am shooting for one hundred years on this planet, just so I can live as many years as  true lefty than did as a sometimes lefty.

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