Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lefties

I come from a generation where writing left handed was frowned upon, and corrected usually with detrimental effects. When my youngest brother started writing with his left hand at school, he was forced to use his right hand. The good thing about that is that he can now write with either hand, the bad thing is no matter which hand he uses, his writing is almost illegible.

My husband is left handed and what got me on this particular train of thought was the discovery that there is a 'left handed' and 'right handed' way of hanging clothes on a coat hanger. My husband retired recently in order to be take care of his mother who lives with us, while she is still perfectly capable of taking care of herself, due to failing eyesight and good sound common sense, she has chosen to quit driving. As her eyesight is expected to continue to deteriorate, eventually we expect she will need more than just a driver.

Meanwhile, because he is no longer working, my husband has taken over many of the household chores, in particular the laundry. I still do the ironing early on Sunday morning but no longer have to wash, dry or hang the clothes.

That was when I noticed this phenomenon. It got me thinking about being left handed in what is essentially a right handed world. When we remove clothes from the dryer, we hang them immediately, that minimizes the chore of ironing them. I had never noticed before that there is a right and left way to put a shirt on a hanger. I, right handed, hold the hanger in my right hand with the hook turned to the left, insert the hanger into the right shoulder of the shirt, (on the left facing me) then into the left shoulder (on the right facing me). Now, with my right hand I can easily hang this up.

A left handed person, at least my husband, does completely the opposite, holds the hanger in his left hand, hook to the right, inserts it first in the left side of the shirt (which is facing him so on his right) then in the other shoulder, now it is ready for him to hang easily with his left hand.

What intrigued me most about this is that when I went to remove the shirt to iron it, I felt totally turned around, the natural way - or at least natural for me, wast to remove from the side to my right first, but it felt wrong because the hook was facing in the 'wrong' direction. Of course, this was just a very minor discomfort and not difficult to adjust to, there are many other things that pose greater difficulties.



My first car in the US was a stick shift, and I had been driving a stick all my life, but changing to a car with the driver side on the left, that put the gear shift on the right, it was my first real experience of how difficult things must be for people who are left handed. So many things are designed for those who are right handed. Door handles and locks all placed on the right side. And, while left handed scissors are available, they are not easy to come by, manually operated can openers, and a computer mouse can be configured for left or right handed people and some kitchen knives are very obviously designed with the right-handed user in mind.



Many people say that left handed people are smarter, my belief is that is because they are forced to use more of their brain, the right side naturally because they are left handed, but they have to use the left side just to live in a right handed world. My husband is most definitely smarter than average, as are the other members of my family who are lefties, my highly intelligent grandson and my beautiful and very talented niece.

Fortunately these days it is much more accepted and children are allowed to develop according to their genes - because researchers have located a gene responsible for right- or left-handedness, according to a 2013 study published in the journal PLOS Genetics.

Apart from the forced right handed writing, I couldn't find any references to forcing left handed people to do anything else with the right hand. But what is very interesting is that my husband, who I mentioned before writes with his left hand, and I might add his hand writing is a lot better than mine and I am and always was right handed. However, he bowls with his right hand, and apparently always has (incidentally he also does that better than I do), as you can see from the photo, my grandson bowls with his left hand.

Here are some very interesting things research has come up with about left handedness.
  • Make up between 7% and 10% of the population
  • More likely to have allergies
  • More prone to migraines
  • More likely to be insomniacs
  • Use the right side of the brain the most
  • Three times more likely to become alcoholics – the right side of the brain has a lower tolerance to alcohol!
  • More likely to be on extreme poles of the intelligence scale
  • Tend to reach puberty 4 to 5 months later than right handers
  • More likely to suffer stuttering and dyslexia
  • Twice as likely to be a man
  • There is also a left hand day, and a left handers club. See here for more information. 
According to this article regarding left handed US Presidents, Daniel Geschwind, a professor of human genetics at UCLA says : "Six out of the past 12 presidents is statistically significant, and probably means something,"