Monday, August 16, 2010

In our right minds?

The old saying goes that left-handed people are the only ones who are in their right minds. We have to have something going for us. Most righties just don't realize how much of a struggle it can be to be left-handed. The world is geared toward right-handedness. I once read that not only are left-handed people more clumsy, they generally die at a younger age than people who are right-handed.
We were discussing being left-handed at work last week, and I couldn't resist pointing out that many brilliant people in the world have been left-handed, including many Nobel Prize winners. I also had heard that there have been several left-handed presidents, and decided to do some research. (I'll also point out that another left-handed co-worker and I got accused of "thinking we were better than everyone else" because we're left-handed. Why yes ... yes, we do. So there.)
On to the presidents. There have only been eight left-handed U.S. presidents. Disappointing, yes, but I like to think that there likely would have been more if not for the tendency to force people to learn how to write right-handed even though they were left-inclined. I know this happened. It happened to my mother.
The eight left-handed U.S. presidents are James A. Garfield (ambidextrous and could reportedly write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other), Herbert Hoover, Harry S Truman (little piece of trivia ... Truman's middle name was actually just "S," which is why there is no period used after the letter), Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (actually ambidextrous—one of those forced to learn to write right-handed), George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. Notice a trend here? Four of the last five presidents have been left-handed. Very interesting. But it gets even more interesting. In 1992, all three presidential candidates—Clinton, Bob Dole, and Ross Perot—were left-handed. Al Gore is left-handed. So is John McCain. I'm willing to bet that Sarah Palin is not. Or maybe it's just that I don't want to claim her as one of "my people."
I'm ambidextrous myself. No one tried to turn me into a right-hander. I did it all myself. As a child living on a farm, I loved going out in the tractor with dad or our hired man, and would become angry when they left me behind. One day I was determined not to miss out on my tractor ride, and ran out to get in the tractor and wait. I shut the tractor door directly on my left thumb. Ouch. This resulted in stitches and a large bandage. The whole time I had to wear the bandage I refused to use my left hand for anything. This was how I learned to eat and do many other things right-handed. I write left-handed, but eat with my right. I bat left and throw right, hit a volleyball right, shoot a basketball right, and golf (if you can call it that) left. I think there is a definite advantage to being ambidextrous. No need to seek out left-handed scissors for me! I think most people, left or right-handed, would benefit from learning to develop their weaker hand a bit. I just don't recommend my method of doing so.

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