Looking Through the Porthole

I’m tired of living a lie. I simply can’t take it anymore. I have labored under the weight of this burden for too long, and I feel that it is crushing me. I simply have to free my soul from the fetters of this false life. I’m left handed.

“You’re left handed?” says someone who has just been struck with the many inconsistencies of my character, and has pieced them together into a cohesive whole. “Well…yeah.” I reply, my eyes making contact with theirs, attempting to relay my sincerity, my openness, my fragile nature.

“Seriously?” That eye contact trick never works.


“Oh…. I’m totally okay with that. I have lots of friends who are left handed.” This type of tacit but pat rejection may sting, but at least it assures me that I’m not hiding anything. The psychological torture is far worse when I travel home for the holidays and am forced to take up residence with my hopelessly conservative parents. An act as simple as sitting down to the dinner table, which no right-hander would think twice about, becomes a test of my mental fortitude. First off, I must be sure to remember to pick up my fork and spoon with my right hand, relegating my traitorously dominant left to the use of the knife only. If we happen to be eating something that doesn’t require utensils, like hamburgers or chicken nuggets with fries, I can breathe a little easier, and hold my burger with both hands, or hold a nugget with one hand and grasp fries with the other. However, if I must gesticulate in some fashion, I again need to be on my guard, and make sure to use only the right hand, which is to say the left hand in this case, as my right hand is too busy clutching my food.

And then, of course, I must meekly tolerate the dinnertime conversation when it turns to how the damned “Southpaws in Hillcrest” are destroying the country from the inside out, and how “Southies” are all over TV, and have their own sitcoms, and how it makes my parents sick. I must stifle the urge to shout, “They’re called ‘Left handers,’ Dad,” in a too-loud, too-anxious voice. Although I doubt my Mom would accuse me of being a “Southy-lover,” suspicion is anathema to a life of secrecy.

And the dinner table isn’t the only time at home when I must keep my left-handedness in check. Even masturbation, an act already fraught with some degree of worry, is twice as nervewracking for lefties. No one wants to be discovered in the throes of autoerotic ecstasy, but imagine the horror if my mom were to walk in on me and discover her baby boy not just whacking it, but whacking it with his left hand! Of all the scenarios I can think of where I tell my mom the truth about myself, the image of her standing in the doorway, looking down at me with my jeans around my ankles, my ankles over my head, and my hideous left hand where it should under no circumstances be, is probably the worst.

I also have to hide all my left-hander magazines when I’m at home, lest they incriminate me. Really, the tribulations of being a left-hander at home are endless, and remind me why I’m so glad I decided to move away to college, where people are slightly more tolerant of those with different manual orientations.

Unfortunately, even in academia, there are a hundred little things every day that remind me that I don’t quite fit the mold of what “normal” is supposed to be. Every time I go into lecture, I must figure out how I’m going to contort myself to get my renegade left hand to write notes way the hell over on the little table-thing on my right. If, for some odd reason, I choose to go watch or participate in some kind of sport, I’m forced to listen to the unknowing jocks taunt each other and simultaneously bash my identity with cries of: “You throw/bat/kick/ highstick/dribble/fight like a lefty!”

And God forbid I should want to cut a piece of paper. It seems that every single right handed person I know has a pair of scissors, and has had that pair for a long time. This leads to one of the most damaging stereotypes of left-handers: that we can’t hold monogamous, long-term relationships with our scissors. The truth is that though we want lasting bonds as much as any “normal righty,” right-hander society is so bent on keeping left handers from owning scissors we can actually use that they have passed legislature against it in 48 states and at the federal level.

I don’t feel like I’m asking for very much. All I want is a chance to be myself without having to worry about being insulted, dismissed, or threatened with physical violence. I didn’t choose this; I was born this way, and I’ve grown to accept and even like who I am. So screw you for judging me, you Northy bastard. Someday we, the militant ten percent of your society, will rise up, and you will know the pain of trying to explain a watch tan on the wrong arm. I only pray we of the Left will be more tolerant than you have been.