JillShargaaCap

Raise your right hand if you’re left-handed! I’m a lefty and those that are can tell you, it’s not easy.

When I was in first grade, I vividly remember that when it rained during recess my teacher would break out the record player and we’d have to square dance or get up and move. Every time that happened I would break into a sweat. Not because of my dancing skills, but because it took me a long time to distinguish left from right.

“Start on your right foot!” I would naturally start on my left foot, reach with my left hand, turn the faucet toward the right hoping the water would come out…

Being left-handed required that I sat in a different desk from the others. It was curved and supported the left arm for writing. If there was one lefty desk in the entire room, that was mine. It felt different being left-handed—and not in a good way. I’m sure my chubby, little left hand was curled in such a way that it looked mangled.

Being left-handed while using scissors meant that the handle was molded to fit comfortably on the left thumb and fingers. To be specific, the blades are reversed so that the left blade is on top. Remember how much paper cutting was going on in first grade? My lefty scissors were green too.

They were ostracized from the others. I felt sorry for them.

I learned to play guitar “upside down”—or left-handed. I switched to right-handed after a couple years. I noticed that Jimi Hendrix was better at it than I was. So was Paul McCartney. Whatever, Jimi. Whatever, Paul.

When I was taking typography at the University of Florida I struggled with using ink pens and lettering. I had to draw everything in pencil first, Then ink it “backwards.” Otherwise, when you write naturally from left to right, it would smear.

Neatness counts. This took me hours to do. I would’ve failed that class, not graduate and ended up being homeless if I hadn’t taken the time. Wait here while I get the statistics on that.

Lefties wear their wrist watch on their right arm. And if you want to change the time while wearing your watch, you can’t pull out the stem because it’s on the far right side. So you have to take your watch off, change the time by hand and put it back on. Time flies when you’re left-handed.

Through the ages, “left” has evolved into being wrong or bad. Take the word “sinister.” The origin of sinister is Middle English, from Anglo-French is senestre on the left, from Latin sinistr-. Sinister, on the left side, unlucky, inauspicious. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sinister as “having an evil appearance; looking likely to cause something bad, harmful, or dangerous to happen.”

Hoo-boy. Raise your left hand if you feel horrible.

If you’re right-handed, I’d say by now you’re thinking, “Who cares, Jill?” But wait, there’s more.

A “left-handed compliment” is when an insult is disguised as a compliment or an inadvertent criticism meant to be an expression of praise. We’ve given them. We’ve received them.

“Wow, she is beautiful, considering her age.”

We all have a friend or relative who is gauche. Defined as “lacking social experience or grace; not tactful; crude.”

The origin is French, literally, left. Thanks a lot, you snail-eating bastards.

On the other hand (preferably the left), La Rive Gauche—or The Left Bank—is named for the River Seine in Paris. The river cuts the city in two. The southern bank is to the left, and the northern bank is to the right. Centuries ago, the artists, musicians, writers, beatniks and wackos preferred to live on The Left Bank. It was known for the counterculture, creativity and bohemianism. Yay, team!

When I was 17, I worked as a cashier at Walgreens. I dreaded working with the pharmacist who was the crankiest man on earth. He noticed I was left-handed and actually said to me, “If you were my daughter, I would’ve forced you to become right-handed.”

I was stunned. How was my left-handedness harming him? Am I not doing my job correctly? Was he expecting me to answer him, “Gee, I would love to have been your daughter. Being left-handed is killin’ me!”

I’m sure I wanted to flip him the bird, using my left hand, of course.

Famous left handers include Presidents Obama, Clinton, Bush (41), Gerald Ford, Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman. Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Babe Ruth, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates are also lefties.

Nowadays, there are lots of left-handed products available to make our lives easier. I’m grateful for them. Someone saw a niche market and answered the call. (Hello, lefty manual can-openers! Where’ve you been all my life?)

When you notice someone else shares a similar characteristic as you, there’s a sense of pride in that. LGBT Pride, Black History Month, St. Patrick’s Day Parade—all these events celebrate their commonality. Many times people can feel the opposite and experience shame like I did when I was a kid.

Minorities usually catch the brunt of it because their voices haven’t been heard. Try to see their point of view and don’t let them feel…wait for it—“left” out.

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