Okay, so I may have mentioned it before, but I find left-handedness to be so fascinating. When I was in the second grade, when most kids want to be astronauts or ballerinas, I told people that I wanted to be left-handed when I grew up. I used to practice brushing my teeth left-handed, and I'd try to write the alphabet or my name with my left hand over and over again. I always notice when one of my students is left-handed and it is definitely a trait to envy in basketball and baseball players. And, my dad is left-handed, so it must be cool. Besides, he taught me how to guard lefties on the basketball court and forced me to become a stronger player with my left hand (very useful). Here's a picture of my pops checking out a drive on Antelope Hills Golf Course in Dubois, Wyoming.
Anyway, I was watching a CSI:Crime Scene Investigation re-run this afternoon and heard Grissom say that, "2,500 left-handed people die each year from using products designed for right-handed people." Interesting-huh. The episode was about this lefty who died because he couldn't use a chainsaw properly due to the fact that is was designed for a righty. Whether or not all of that is true, I thought I owed a blog post to the idea of being left-handed, especially since it has occupied so much of my thought-time over the past 30 or so years.
Here are some facts:
No-one has come up with a definitive reason for WHY some people are left-handed, but about 13% of the population around the world are, and it is thought to be genetic - it definitely runs in families. (I guess my sister and I got gipped because we're both righties.)
Left-handers adjust more readily to seeing underwater. (Weird huh. I don't know exactly how they figured this out?)
Left-handers excel particularly in tennis, baseball, swimming and fencing. (Learned this playing my dad in one-on-one and in trying to return his serves in tennis. . .wicked backspin.) A left-handed individual may be known as a southpaw, particularly in a sports context. It is widely accepted that the term originated in the United States in either boxing or baseball. Ballparks are often designed so that batters are facing east, so that the afternoon or evening sun does not shine in their eyes. This means that left-handed pitchers are throwing with their south-side arm--hence the name "Southpaw."
Seven of our presidents have been left-handed, including four of the last six. And, more importantly, all of the Muppets are supposedly left-handed as well. (That's why I nicknamed one of our lefties on the basketball team-Kermit.)
Albert Einstein was left-handed, as were Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Joan of Arc, Benjamin Franklin, Queen Victoria, Henry Ford, Marie Curie, Beethoven, and Jimi Hendrix. Oh, and Bill Gates, Paul McCartney, my favorite "Friend"- Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), and Oprah are lefties too--just to name a few. Cartoonist Matt Groening and his creation, Bart Simpson, are both left-handed. Oh, and Larry Bird does everything except shoot a basketball with his left hand. Crazy.
And I just heard today on Sportscenter that there's a guy (Pat Venditte) pitching for the Yankees this spring who is ambidextrous. He wears a six-fingered glove and can pitch with both his right and left. It's odd. . . but kinda cool. I'd pay to see that.