The Big 10 with Jeff D'Alessio, Aug. 17, 2014
In honor of International Left-Handers Day, which came and went Wednesday with nary a peep — so typical — we asked 10 southpaws to share their painful accounts of feeling left out while living in a right-handed world.
Senior Library Specialist, Urbana University High
“Slim Whitman, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Justin Bieber — and me. Those five music superstars and I have one thing in common: We’re all left-handed guitar players.
“There are, as you might imagine, far fewer left-handed guitar players than there are righties out there, and that means something really dire and tragic and difficult for me as a musician and compulsive guitar shopper: There are far, far fewer left-handed guitars to choose from, to dream about, to salivate over, save up for and ultimately, splurge on. Luckily, though, there are a few left-handed instruments to be found, both locally and online.
“For example, how about that 1979 left-handed Jim Hall model D’Aquisto jazz guitar, available on eBay right now for a mere $30,000? My birthday’s coming up, you know.”
Principal, South Side Elementary
“Whenever I eat with a group of people, I always have to strategically position myself so I don’t constantly elbow spar with my neighbor. If you think about it, other than the head of the table, there are only two seats where lefties can sit that provide appropriate elbow clearance — the ones at the far left of each side of the table. The only other option is to identify another left-hander to sit next to, but there’s only a 15 percent chance of that happening.
“Round tables? A total roll of the dice.”
Former Illini, 2010 NCAA golf champ
“Even being a PGA Tour member, I still often face delays in equipment availability compared to my right-handed peers. If a new club comes out, it may be a month or two before it’s available to the lefties.
“Thankfully, though, we don’t have to wait too long, since normally we still get to play (with) new equipment before the public gets their hands on it.”
Guidance counselor, Heritage High
“My mother-in-law pointed out that a left-handed mother will find it hard to teach a right-handed child how to tie their shoes because we start out with a left loop and then bring the string around with the right hand while right-handed mothers do the opposite.
“The funniest thing my father-in-law pointed out is that when you set a proper table, the fork, which is used the most in eating, is on the left of the plate — perfect for us lefties.”
“It’s very apparent on the basketball floor. Everyone knows. By the second quarter, the other coach is yelling, ‘You know he’s left-handed. Take it away. Make him go right.’”
Champaign police officer
“I consider myself a true lefty, not a wannabe left-handed person. Some lefties only write with their left hand and do everything else like a right-handed person. It took until my late teens before I could even control my right arm to make a muscle. To this day, using a fork with my right hand is nearly impossible.
“A left-handed safety belt would be wonderful. It’s kinda embarrassing to exit a police car and get the belt attached to your gear, forcing you backwards.”
All-Israeli League, ex-Illini forward
“Taking notes in a three-ring binder is always a treat.”
Science teacher, St. Joseph-Ogden High
”There’s the issue of pens that twist in the front to extend the ballpoint. When I try to write with one of those, the pen immediately retracts because the twist isn’t ideal for lefties.
“It’s a hard life but I manage. I’m a trouper.”
Athletic director, Champaign Central High
“Try pulling the cord to start a lawnmower as a lefty. Try using most pairs of scissors with your left hand — or finding a pair at school that aren’t for righties.
“In college, remember the little desks that flip up in lecture halls? They’re always on the right side.
“I gave up on the left hand thing a long time ago because it was just so frustrating. I no longer write in binders and I use my right hand for my mouse because of the whole right-click, left-click thing. I’ve pretty much adapted to living in a right-hand world.”
UI baseball ace, 13-2 in 2 seasons
“The hardest thing is having to deal with smearing the freshly laid pen ink or pencil lead all over the side of your hand when you try to write on a piece of notebook paper.
“It’s a double whammy because it messes up the beauty of your penmanship as well as leaving an ugly stain all over your hand.”
Softball coach, Danville High
“Coaching kids who are mostly right-handed, it’s hard to demonstrate how to do things like throwing, pitching and shooting a basketball. While they are done the same way fundamentally, it looks different and gets confusing when watching someone do it with the other hand. Most of the difficulty actually comes in to play because of the footwork involved; for example, which foot you step with when throwing.”
“We, the left-handed, have been abused for years. Some say it’s the sign of the devil, or that we aren’t in our right mind. My grandpa and my daughter are both left-handed, and I lived in college in a house where four out of six of us were lefties.
“One thing I do is at large group meals is to hurry to the table to get a good spot so I don’t have to fight a righty. Writing can be messy, dragging my hand through wet ink all the time. The world is designed for right-handed people and I believe we the lefties are smarter because we are always adapting to a righty world.”