Wednesday, August 29, 2007

choosing sides

For reasons difficult to fathom, I‘ve always wanted to be left-handed. In elementary school, I’d grab the green-handled scissors meant for lefties and try, mostly unsuccessfully, to cut shapes out of construction paper. In fourth grade, when we learned to write in cursive, I hated the way that my left hand couldn’t seem to master what my right hand managed so easily. Because I‘ve made a conscious effort to do it that way, I mouse left-handed, pleased that there is finally something I can do better with my left hand. And I‘ve always had a thing for left-handed guys. (Why yes, Dr. Freud, my father is left-handed. How ever did you know?)

While I was writing this post, I looked up a bunch of facts and myths relating to left and right and found two that I wanted to share. First, though it’s hard to imagine circumstances under which this information, even if true, would be useful, both cats and polar bears are said to be left-handed. Second, Civil War recruits were taught to distinguish left from right by having a few wisps of hay tied to their left foot and straw to their right foot, then being set to march to the chant “Hay-foot, straw-foot, hay-foot, straw-foot.” After I read this story, it occurred to me that while I can fairly reliably tell my left from my right, I’m not at all sure that I know the difference between hay and straw.

In any event: are you a lefty or a righty? Southpaw or northpaw? Port or starboard?

Note: This is one of those questions that calls for only one tiny little word in response (or even just L or R if you’re especially lazy or busy), so I’m hoping that some of you lurkers will vote. If you’re ambidextrous, you can even vote twice.

45 comments:

thirtysomething said...

Righty

DD said...

You find the most fascinating stuff...

I am right-handed for everything, but the reason I wanted to chime in is to mention my husband.

He writes, golfs, shoots pool right-handed. He shoots a gun with the left. He is not ambi since he can't write (very well) with the left and etc. Even more interesting is the other day when we went to one of the county fairs, our son wanted to try the shooting gallery. The guns are rifle length and X struggled to fit it to his shoulder comfortably.

I realized why. He's a lefty as well when shooting. And it's not b/c his left eye is prominent, just in case someone has a theory going there.

Magpie said...

Right.

But I don't know right from left. At least, not intuitively - I have to think about it. It's dreadful to be in the car with me; I can neither take nor give directions.

I do know port and starboard, and I'm usually very good at east, west, north, south.

Sorry - that was more than one word!

slouching mom said...

I'm a lefty, and my son Jack's a lefty. Just another way in which he's a mini-me.

Being left-handed has its drawbacks. I won't bore you with them.

missedconceptions said...

I have always wanted to be left-handed, too. All the LH kids in my AP high-school biology class found some article singing the virtues of being a leftie (something about brain function) and other famous lefties, and I was smitten.

I am a righty, but I just feel distinguished these days by my craptacular uterus.

Mary said...

Lefty here (for writing). I mouse and cut with my right hand though. In school, the teachers would always give us lefties those green-handled scissors and we could never understand why they didn't work. No one ever thought to mention that you used them with your left hand and it took most of primary school for us all to figure it out. So much for south-pawed intelligence, at least in my grade.
My favourite left-handed piece of trivia is that Jim Henson and his ilk are southpaws - many of the muppets are lefties.

susan said...

right, married to a left

stat763 said...

Lefty. green scissors and everyting. in first grade when we were cutting things my teacher always used my paper as the example. I guess we didn't have the green scissors in that class.

Anonymous said...

I'm right handed. It's very interesting to watch my 5yo because she will switch off r/l when eating, coloring, cutting, etc. She just started Kinder and I wonder if they will "encourage" her to pick one over the other.

Angela

painted maypole said...

righty

and i thought the same thing about hay and straw, even before your comment!

ms. G said...

Well, I am technically not ambi,because though I write and eat with my left hand, I cut, and do all sports related things with my right. It is very confusing, and I often don't know what side will work for me when trying a new skill. Mary's story about the scissors in school happened to me too! I was constantly being given left handed scissors. When we first started dating, Mr.G gave me a left handed catchers mitt. I had to break his heart and tell him I couldn't use it.

If someone says, "go right" (or left) it always takes me a moment to decide which is which. I always thought it was a lefty thing, but after reading the comments, I guess not.

Both my mom and dad are full blown lefties and still remember being forced to use the right hand in school. I am their only leftie child out of 5, and I am not even a full blown leftie.

A more depressing statistics I read once is that left handers die sooner, one theory being we have more accidents due to living in a right hand world.

What was that you said about a one word answer, Niobe? :)

meg said...

I am right handed, but my husband can do most things with both hands, including writing. He claims it's from 25 years of playing various musical instruments.

niobe said...

Ms. G: I'd bet the study that purported to show that lefties die earlier is just plain wrong. My understanding is that they surveyed a bunch of people and found that there were fewer lefties in the older age groups than in the younger.

But the obvious explanation for that is not that left handers die off younger, but that being left handed has, over time, become more acceptable, so that parents and school no longer try to retrain kids to use their right hands. Many of the righties in the older age groups were presumably "really" lefties who had been turned into righties at an early age.

Zee said...

Right. And I can't tell left from right unless I pick up an imaginary pen and pretend to write--which is loads of fun when following driving directions, as you can imagine.

Angela Sawatzky said...

Righty. =)

AJW5403 said...

Righty here

Christine said...

right

a response to your comment at my place: every year you fill out a parent input form. you can state your preferences, but nothing is guaranteed. though i know people who are VERY adamant about NOT having their kid in an inclusion room. sad.

S. said...

I'm a righty, but I knit lefty.

The Oneliner (Christina) said...

i've always thought left handers were cooler. although now that you admit to being right handed...i dunno. kee, hee, hee.

Jenny F. Scientist said...

Right! But I can write badly left-handed.

I want to be able to throw things well with my left hand; don't care about writing so much.

Caro said...

Righty

Lori said...

Righty. All rightys in my family, and I'm married to one. However, Little T bats left and throws right. Apparently that is a desirable skill in baseball because we already have coaches encouraging us to keep him batting left. It's silly... he bats left because that was always more comfortable for him. If one day he decided he prefers to bat right, why on earth would I care?? Like it's going to ruin his potential professional baseball career?!?

Elizabeth said...

Unambiguously starboard. But T., both his parents, and his sister are all port.
(thanks for comment!)

missing_one said...

Lefty for writing and cutting.
Righty for catching and throwing

Carole said...

Righty...but I used to try to like to eat with my left hand...not really sure why.

Hannah said...

Right handed, and I can barely do anything that requires being dextrous with my left hand. Apart from, that is, pouring a teapot. Or putting on eyeliner.

But to tell left from right I have to pretend to write something. I also have to pretend to write something in order to think how to spell a word, or do mental arithmetic.

Furrow said...

Righty. though I always wanted to be one of those cool, artistic, sinister lefties, too.

I know my right from left pretty easily, but people who constantly speak in terms of compass directions get on my nerves. How the hell am I supposed to know which is the west side of campus? Especially if it's midday, cloudy, or nighttime.

FattyPants said...

righty

Patience said...

R (with some L abilities)

Kate said...

Righty

Manda said...

100% lefty :)
So is my partner - we're wondering how our kids will turn out!

jo(e) said...

I'm right-handed, but I've always been surrounded by left-handed people. I have three left-handed siblings, and two of my four kids are left-handed. In my family, left-handednesses has always been seen as a mark of coolness, so growing up, I wanted to be left-handed.

Angel Mom said...

right

Monica said...

Me: right
DH: left

I can tell my left from my right, but when people tell me that I have food on my face, which they often do, I have a hard time reversing their indications to the correct side of my face. Does that make sense?

Eva said...

Right-handed.

I love that you research your posts like this. It is endearing.

Rebecca said...

I'm a proud leftie! We rock!

LeRoy Dissing said...

right handed here.

Amelie said...

Right. And not so good in telling them apart...
We had a professor who was left-handed, but, as he put it, just old enough to be forced to write with his right hand anyway. He blames that for his illegible handwriting. I worked on a manuscript with him, which involved typing some of his notes (or my guesses to what they mean).

Bon said...

righty. also always kinda wanted to be sinistra.

Katie W said...

Righty, with no lefthandedness in my family.
Though after reading some of the comments maybe the reason I m so rubbish at most sports is because I try to do them right handed, maybe I should give being a lefty a go!

sharah said...

Right. Although the story goes that I was a lefty when I was very young, and my godmother forced me to use my right instead. I find this very plausible because a) my father is ambi and my brother is a lefty and b) my godmother swore that if she ever had a red-haired baby, she'd dye it brunette.

That makes her sound horrible, but she was a wonderful woman. Just a little prejudiced in her own eccentric way.

Betty M said...

I didn't see this last night but rather belatedly am commenting as it reminds me of when I was 6 and my sister was 4 and we were staying at my gran's house. The elderly lady next door asked us what we were going to be when we grew up. I said actress or dancer or something else I am not. She turned to S and said and "what about you, then/". S looked very serious and said with great emphasis "But Mrs T, I am left-handed." Clearly being a leftie was of far greater importance to S than the rest of us righties had ever imagined.

Maddie's Mom said...

Right

OneTiredEma said...

Righty. But I think lefties have more natural coolness. :-)

Taxman is a lefty.

Both of us had natural-lefty paternal grandfathers forced to be righties in school in the '20s & '30s...so they became ambi. (And Taxman's grandpa reverted to being a full time lefty after he had a stroke that weakened his right side.)

My 3 year old daughter is a righty. Too soon to tell on the 16 month old, but Taxman is really rooting for a lefty. Personally, I think the reason behind it is because it will make teaching him to put on tefillin a lot easier (and tefillin for lefties is different)...how's that for a minor blip in the grand scheme of life?

Anne said...

I unknowingly impressed a student teacher when I was in fifth grade by declaring my goal for the year was to develop the ability to legibly write with both hands. I guess he thought that was cool for a 10yo. Unfortunately, I lack patience and dedication and am therefore an eternal righty. Being left-footed cheers me a little. Your blog makes me think.