Welcome to The Flyover Podcast, we’re so glad to have you with us today. Because this week, we’re spending some time on the other side of the road, so to speak, hanging out with those kooky southpaws, the ones with sinistrality. The left handers.
We know about Babe Ruth and Ken Griffey Jr, about Steve Young and Pele, about David Robinson and Bill Russell. Maybe you didn’t know about Wayne Gretzky, who while not technically a lefty, used a left-handed hockey stick en route to becoming The Great One. These legendary athletes made being left-handed look as easy as cutting a piece of paper in half. And, for us lefties, that ain’t easy.
Today’s show isn’t just about those who excel at being “gaucher,” it’s also about the hilarious and often humiliating side of life as a lefty.
So, let’s start off by celebrating my left-handed brethren with the song that inspired today’s theme, “Left Hand Free” by alt-J.
(alt-J – Left Hand Free)
How many of you out there are left-handed? That’s not many, not many…If we were in a comedy club, or some backyard bar-be-que, and I asked that question, you’d see those hands shoot right up. Left-handed people are really proud to be left-handed. And I should know, for I am among you, my dear societal castaways.
We may only be ten percent of the population, but you’d never know that the way we talk about it. No, to hear us tell it, you’d think everyone and their mother was left-handed.
“Oh, well, I’m left-handed, and so is my father, my grandmother, my third grade art teacher, my anesthesiologist.” And I’d like to take a brief pause here to acknowledge my choosing to use such a difficult word to pronounce as “anesthesiologist” in a bit. I didn’t need to do that, there were a lot of choices there, a lot of ways to go, but this is, after all, the level of service and dedication with which I provide you. So, y’know, you’re welcome.
Anyway, as soon as you bring up someone, anyone, if they’re left-handed, we’re ready:
“Barack Obama? You know what he was don’t you?”
Like they gave us all some sort of super secret left-handed propaganda pamphlet at birth instead of scissors that actually work:
“Julius Caesar. Ah, ah, left-handed!”
Yea, and how’d that work out for him?
I mean, we’ll list everyone:
“Let’s see, there’s Babe Ruth, Robert DeNiro, I hear even Leonardo da Vinci was left-handed!”
So was Jack the Ripper and the Boston Strangler, but I don’t see you mentioning them.
It’s kind of an odd thing to have such pride in, isn’t it, which hand you jerk off with?
“James Baldwin? His left hand, no shit.”
Well, these next lefties are two of the best to ever hold their…guitars…upside down. First up, it’s Jimi Hendrix with “Red House.” Then it’s Sir Paul McCartney, leading the rest of the Fab Four through “Helter Skelter.” And that one? It apparently inspired Charles Manson to do…Charles Manson things. And good ol’ Charlie? Depending on whom you believe, yes, he too may have been left-handed.
Well, y’know, I never met me Charles Manson, y’know, but I heard he listened to our little songy song, y’know, just put the needle down on the record player, and it did a little spinny spin, y’know, and out comes the song, y’know. And he heard something mean in it, y’know, but to me it was just a song about a roller coaster.
(Jimi Hendrix – Red House
(The Beatles – Helter Skelter)
It hasn’t always been easy to be a lefty in this cruel, cruel world.
Just a few decades ago, many schools were still forcing students to write with their right hand. I know that because, believe it or not, it happened to me! But I proudly resisted, also known as my parents yelled at my teachers, and now I sit before you, forever out of step with the rest of society.
It goes back even further than that, of course. For centuries, being left-handed was seen as a sign of weakness, or even worse, something sinister and evil. In fact, the word sinister actually comes from the Latin word for left, sinistram.
In the Middle Ages, that wonderful era of progressive thought, my people were often associated with the devil and even accused of witchcraft.
And speaking of progressive thought, that’s got to be the reason that liberals sit on the left side of the aisle, doesn’t it?
Would it be too strong to say that left-handers are an oppressed minority? I mean, we’ve had it pretty good the last few decades, but we still can’t operate a can opener or zip up a jacket without requiring significant assistance. We can’t play shortstop, share golf clubs with you, or figure out how to use one of those ice cream scoopers with the little lever thing on it. But, I solved that one a long time ago by just eating the whole carton. That’s called innovation.
I mean, have you ever thought about the computer? Just the way it’s set up! Number pad on the right. Mouse on the right. Driving a car is the same way, unless you’re in England I guess. Even music, you have to find a whole different guitar, and good luck with that because they don’t even make that many of them, so you end up with a regular guitar that you’re never able to get great at so you end up having to do this to entertain people.
Sometimes it’s like the whole world is against us!
And every group, every group has their champion, their Martin Luther King, their Caesar Chavez, their Rush Limbaugh. Excuse me, that’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg, my notes are a little sloppy today.
Who would be the Jackie Robison of the left handers? Would it be James A. Garfield, the first left-handed President? The aforementioned da Vinci? He’d be a good one.
For such a proud minority, it’s surprising we lefties haven’t been more vocal about our relegatory status in society. I mean, you have the Puerto Rican Day parade, PRIDE month, all wonderful, important celebrations. You’re telling me we couldn’t throw a few bucks together for the Left-Handed People’s Awareness Parade?
Wouldn’t that be something, Tom Cruise running in place on top of a giant float, cruising through New York City only making left turns? Big balloon of Bill Clinton, being chased by Harpo Marx. Narrated by old recordings of Winston Churchill.
“We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. On Fifth Avenue, in the subways…”
Ten percent of the population, and no parade. It’s a damn shame, is what it is.
Now you may have noticed that so far I’ve only mentioned men who are left-handed. But, don’t cancel me yet, there is a reason: believe it or not, men are more likely to be left-handed than women by almost 23%.
There are some notable ones, however; Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie, Oprah, Lady Gaga. Put them together, what a fine group of enterprising females!
And hey, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom I mentioned before, she was left-handed as well!
So let’s celebrate the ladies, shall we, with a song about a left-handed woman, a three handed woman, and another…sung by a left-eyed one.
(Jimmy Reed – Left Handed Woman)
(Louis Prima – Three Handed Woman)
(TLC – Unpretty)
So, I’ve glossed over a few things that routinely give lefties trouble: can openers, a keyboard, life in general.
But, there’s one everyday item to which we must pay attention, one that has plagued left-handers for centuries:
I mentioned we used to be accused of witchcraft, and if I had to choose between being burned at the stake or having to use scissors, it’s honestly 50/50.
The first 30 years of my life, I was convinced that I simply could not use them. Everything I cut, it was like Edward Scissorhands on a Tilt-a-Whirl. Until recently, if I ever needed to cut out a picture, or something important, I would have to ask my wife:
“Could you? I…I can’t.”
One day, a colleague of mine, watching me struggle to hack through a piece of printer paper, took me aside at work like a drug dealer talking about his new product:
“Hey, my man. You look like you could use some help.”
- Yeah, I can’t go on like this. I need something to just, you know, help take the edge off.
“Ey-oh, look right here. Lemme see if I can’t help you get what you need.”
- I just…I need something…anything…to help me…cut through the void.
“I hear you, man, I hear you. Here it is, ten bucks a pop.”
- Wait. Is that…are those…you mean to tell me…?
Suddenly, the clouds parted. The skies cleared. Moses had come down from the mountaintop, and layeth at my feet the Holy Grail: left-handed scissors.
All my life. School, work. Tormented. Ridiculed. Shamed. And there was a solution all along. Imagine the suffering I could have avoided? This glorious product, how long had it been around? Where could I get it? How do I tell the others?!
You end up starring in one of those late-night informercials:
“Has this ever happened to you? A coworker asks, ‘Hey, can you help me cut this out,’ and you start to feel dizzy and recoil in fear? Does using scissors make you wish you were never born? Did Uncle Joey’s catchphrase from Full House send you to the Emergency Room? Well, cut it out. I’m Kyle Pucciarello, and have I got a product for you!”
It’s hard to believe the fictional southpaws in these next two songs ever had to embarrass themselves trying to cut a circle out of a piece of construction paper. Here’s Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard with “Pancho and Lefty,” and a strange one from T Rex, “Left Handed Luke.”
(Willie Nelson – Pancho and Lefty)
(T Rex – Left Handed Luke)
It wasn’t just scissors that made school a terrible place for us left-handers. It was, well, everything. I mean, as far back as kindergarten. I mean, coloring. When it was time to color, everyone would cheer!
“Yay, it’s time to use markers!”
Ten minutes of coloring with markers and I’ve got a rainbow running down my arm. You end up contorting your arm in a weird…almost like writing upside down kind of way to avoid ruining your clothing. To this day, I hate wearing long sleeves, I always have to roll them up, they’re all stretched out. And wearing white, are you kidding? Might as well be a canvas!
But, markers were a sometimes problem, you might go a day or two without having to use those. What you could never avoid, ever, were those god damn desks.
All you “normal” people listening right now, you have absolutely no idea, no idea how good you had it. You sat at one of those desks, you’d open your notebook – and that’s another horribly prejudiced thing right there, the notebook, an item that repeatedly stabs your left arm with metal spirals while you use it – you righties would open your notebook, rest your arm comfortably along the wooden cut out, and proceed to take notes.
Us? We’d end up with a hernia trying to finish a test. Severe back problems at 13 years old.
But, there would always be one. One left-handed desk, just in case there was some weirdo in the class. Of course, there was never just one of us. No, there were always two, maybe three in the class, you know if you lived in a town where they dumped toxic waste in the drinking water.
And the lefties, we all knew each other. We weren’t necessarily friends, but we were aware of each other, kinda like the way you see two black guys in a room full of stuck up white people aware of each other. Give each other that little head nod of mutual respect and understanding, like, “Well here we are.”
But, that respect and understanding was short lived, because, when it came time to walk into the room, it was every man for himself. You’d have to learn advanced math at a real young age out there, calculating the distance between you and the desk, the potential velocity of the other guy.
“If Johnny, going at a speed of 10 miles per hour…”
Would you have to factor in that extra cookie he had at lunch, would that be enough to slow him down a step? Should’ve tripped the bastard at recess.
You’d stare at each other on opposite ends of the hallway like two boxers in the ring, ready to make your move. You’d each sprint to the door, shove your way through, and look for the desk. Where was that left-handed desk?! Usually, it was in the back corner, all by itself; wouldn’t want you to get too close to the others, infect them with your abnormality, your disgusting left-handed genes. Though, sometimes, I swear, the teacher would move it before class just to screw with us.
“That’ll show them for thinking they can get away with that voodoo handwriting in my classroom.”
There it was, you’d both spot it at the same time. You’d look at each other, and before anyone knew what happened, you’d both be gone in a cloud of smoke. You’d be racing over, neck and neck, ready to push the other aside and claim what was rightfully yours. But, wait, someone was already sitting there!
“Ms. Brown!” you’d both say in allegiant defiance. “Someone’s sitting in the left-handed desk and we need it!”
“Oh,” she’d respond. “That’s Sally, dear. She’s ambidextrous.”
We’ll be seein’ ya…
(Link Wray – Right Turn Left)
The Flyover Podcast is recorded and produced by Kyle Pucciarello in Chicago, Illinois. For more information, please visit www.theflyover.site, @official_flyover on Instagram, or email us at email@example.com.