This Time It's Personal

Re-thinking Left Hander’s Day

A couple of months ago it was “Left Hander’s Day” (August 13th) This particular made-up holiday put my panties in a knot, because I always resented being singled out as a left- handed person. There’s a stigma against us, (however small these days) and the preconceived notion that we somehow qualify as “freaks”. That really grinds my gears! I even wrote a rant about it.

But now, I’m thinking, as inconvenient and annoying as it will always be, there’s something special about being left-handed. Not that we’re necessarily more amazing than anyone who is right-handed, but being left-handed makes up only 10% of the population. That’s a pretty small club! Plus, let’s face it, many left-handed people are exceptionally smart and/or talented.

But the real reason I think I changed my tune about this – finally – is that just recently I discovered that one of my favorite musicians of all time was left handed. After viewing a series of photos of him, it appears that (wait for it…) Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers was left-handed! OMG, I could just die! This is more exciting than the time I found out that Madonna’s grandparents are from the same region of Italy as mine. I mean, as a fan, these details matter!

At first I only saw Phil with a cigarette in his left hand. Well, that doesn’t mean much. As a former light smoker, I recall switching hands. If I needed to do something with my dominant hand, I’d switch the cigarette over to the opposite hand… But then, I found a photo of Phil eating dessert with his fork in his left hand. That would have probably been rather cumbersome if he were right-handed. But still, I wondered if it was out of politeness as not to stab his sweetie who was sitting on his right (men back then were very thoughtful, you know.)

But finally, I saw a photo on Pinterest of The Everly Brothers signing autographs. Phil had the pen in his left hand, which can only mean that he was, indeed, left-handed.

Phil Everly: Left-handed. Photo circa 1958. Source: Pinterest

I was surprised, since I thought that back in Phil’s day, all kids were forced to write with their right hand. My grandfather told me about how he was forced to keep his left hand behind his back as he painstakingly learned to write with his non-dominant hand. The teachers in those days were very cruel and unrelenting about this. If a child even attempted to use their left hand during penmanship lessons, they would be smacked across the knuckles with a wooden ruler. Ouch. That’d be fucken child abuse these days!

Anyway, I suppose young Phil was spared those atrocities, and by the time he was signing autographs, he had already been using his naturally dominant hand. How can someone as perfect as Phil Everly be left-handed? I guess it’s not a flaw after all!

Oh and did I forget to mention? Phil’s brother Don is left-handed too! What are the odds? Well, maybe better since they’re brothers, but I still think it’s amazing! Left-handedness is one in ten, but the Everly boys’ inimitable talent and ridiculous good looks are one in a billion. 🙂

Phil with Don (also a lefty) and unknown kid. Photo circa early 60’s. Source: Pinterest

It turns out that Don and I share the same sentiments about being left-handed. In an interview for Elmore Magazine, Don Everly verified that although he plays the guitar right-handed (as his father taught him), he is “totally left-handed” and that “it’s a screwed up world for left-handed people.” Amen, Don!

Screwed up world notwithstanding, here’s a list of some successful folks who were/are Leftys:

  • The Everly Brothers (both Don and Phil!)
  • Ritchie Valens
  • Bobby Vee
  • Paul McCartney
  • Ringo Starr
  • David Bowie
  • Fabian
  • Barack Obama
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Albert Einstein
  • Carl Sagan
  • Prince William
  • Bill Gates
  • Jerry Seinfeld
  • Mark Hamill (The Force is with us!)
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Scarlett Johansson
  • Tina Fey
  • Jay Leno
  • Kelly Osbourne
  • Jack Osbourne
  • Julia Roberts
  • Lady Gaga
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Matthew Broderick
  • Keanu Reeves
  • Will Ferrell
  • Pablo “Panda” Sandoval
  • Justin Bieber (not that I’m a fan)

Men are 23% more likely to be left-handed then are women, with a ratio of about 1:22. Despite much research, there is no definite answer as to why a small percentage of humans are left-handed. It’s believed to be caused mostly by genetics, but the true cause remains a mystery.

So while we might make a mess with the gravy ladle, struggle with the scissors and fumble helplessly with the can opener… We can still do great things. Just backwards. 🙂


Special thanks to Sherry Davis for contributing information to this post.

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