There I said it. I admitted an undeniable fact. A dirty little secret. I am left-handed and proud, but I live in a world that doesn’t treat us as equals, you see, we live in a right-handed’s world and somehow that makes all the difference.
In kindergarten I was playing leap-frog on the playground at school. I leaped wrong and landed on my elbow. My left elbow. Unbeknownst to me it created a hairline fracture that revealed itself many hours later in the form of a lap dog landing on my left arm. Sweet Jesus. That hurt. Next thing I remember was the emergency room staff cutting away my t-shirt to get my x-rays done. I wore a cast for 6 weeks. I tried to color and draw with my right hand (my parents were hopeful I’d switch only because they knew a left handed wasn’t going to have an easy life in a right handed’s world.) The very next day my stubborn personality took over and I wedged the colored pencils into my left hand. I overcame. I still use my left hand. Broken arm be damned.
My parents gave in. They bought left-handed scissors for me to use. That’s when we learned I am ambidextrous. Haha, jokes on you folks.
Next I noticed the difference in my first-grade class. We were learning penmanship, so all school children were issued fountain pens (it’s the early 80s and we were in the Netherlands, so fountain pens it was.) All the kids were proudly holding their beautiful blue fountain pens, ready and eager to learn to write cursive. Meanwhile three of us had to wait for our teacher to fish out special left-handed fountain pens from the bottom of her desk, underneath her files, in a zip lock baggie. What made it worse was they were a very unlikable green color. ew. ew. ew.
The examples continue with outdated school desks catering only to the right handed, with my arm hanging off the side as I tried to keep up with my notes. My left hand confidently smudging my notes written in pencil, smearing my math homework expertly written on lined paper. My paintings slightly smudged with my “creative” hand. I cannot hide my mark. My hand always matches the shade of the work I do. Scrub scrub, go back to my desk, look down, damn it the mark is back.
When I go out to dinner with my spouse or my friends, instinctively my elbow tucks in tight against my body, as not to run into my counterparts with my feeding arm. I relish dinner dates with left handeds, it’s refreshing to sit at a table when my husband is an “outsider,” navigating his arm against our feeding elbows.
Last week I went to Costco, when it came time to sign the screen I asked the woman for a pen, “it’s right over there,” she pointed to the far corner of the checkout station. I grabbed the pen and stretched the retractable cord beyond reason so I could sign. It whipped out of my hand and shot across the station. She gave me a weak smile. I tried again.
By no means am I indicating that being left-handed is a handicap. I am able-bodied, healthy and happy and quite frankly I love being left-handed. We tend to be more creative (my work is crawling with creative left handeds.) I notice when people are left-handed in movies, you see because they are my brethren. We stand together and unite.
All I am asking for is some understanding. Make the retractable cord appear at the center of the checkout station. Allow school desks to not only cater to the right hander, but to all students. Don’t point out that I have ink stains on my hand, I know I do. Don’t you think I ran to the bathroom before my big meeting to scrub it off?
I am left-handed and I am proud.