Southpaw Grammar - Happy International Lefthanders Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 13, 2010 08:58am | Post a Comment
Happy International Lefthanders Day!

As a child growing up in Bluegrass Country, Kentucky, left-handedness was viewed with suspicion at best, and associated with Natural Evil at worst. Course, they call fiddles "devil's boxes" too. To paraphrase Bobby Boucher, they think everything is the devil!

However, hillbillies aren't alone in their distrust of the left hand. The word "sinister" comes from the Latin word sinestra, or "left." And yet, Chris McManus of University College London argues in his book, Right-Hand, Left-Hand, that the proportion of left-handers is increasing and left-handed people as a group have historically produced an above-average quota of high achievers. In other words, they're taking over...

Consider our leftie (not necessarily in the normal political sense) presidents. OK, maybe Gerald Ford did little to dispel the connotations of clumsy that give us the expression "two left feet." The '90s were totally cack-handed; both Bush and Clinton were goofy. In times of economic turmoil, we turn to lefties like Hoover and Obama, and then blame them for the conditions they inherited.

Anyway, rather than join the circus and be displayed as a human curiosity, I underwent correction. They slapped a purple triangular prism on my pencil and forced me to conform to the right-handed path. I wouldn't exactly say I'm ambidextrous now, more... neutrodextrous, fairly incapable of performing particularly well with either hand. Signing a credit card receipt generally elicits merriment at my expense. 

Here's to those who kept it real. A special shout to Jimi Hendrix, a right-hander who nonetheless played guitar with his left. I appreciate that, bro.

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