Today is Friday 13th, apparently an unlucky day. Not only that, but the year is 2013! To make it even more (apparently) unlucky, I have changed the theme for my blog to a left-handed one.
What do I mean by this?
Simply that all the clicky buttons are on the left hand side of the page. If you look at wordpress themes, you will notice that this is unusual – most of them have buttons placed to the right. Studies have shown that the right-handed majority have a preference for things that they see on their right hand side. This is presumably why adverts always flash to the right of the screen – they get more clicks that way. For the 10% who are left-handed, it’s the opposite. Maybe that’s why this theme is called writr – writers and other creative people are supposedly more likely to be among the 10%.
When I was a child and my Grandma noticed me eating with a spoon in my left hand, she bellowed at my parents
‘Is she left-handed?’
Everyone at the table paused and looked at me, spoon poised halfway to mouth.
‘Er, yes, she is,’ said my Mum
‘It’s a sign of the devil! In my day they would have taken the spoon off her and put it in her other hand. Do you let her do that? Do you let her write with her left hand as well?’
My Grandma was assured that, yes, they did allow me to be left-handed, and my head was yet to start spinning around. I carried on eating, and conversation gradually resumed around the table. My parents laughed this off as ignorant superstition and so I never felt as if I really was the spawn of the devil for using my left hand, in fact I gave it very little thought, until much later in life when I met a girl at work who told me about the left-handed shop, Anything Left Handed.
I spent some time browsing their website, which is full of fascinating facts about left-handedness, as well as products for ‘lefties’ to use. I realised that being a leftie (or cack-handed, keck-fisted, southpaw or spuddy-handed, to name just a few unflattering epithets!) has probably affected my life in subtle ways. It’s just one of the things that is slightly – well, WRONG – about me (my friends kindly say ‘off-beat’).
For example, when passing someone on the street, my natural tendency is to veer to the left to move around them. Their natural tendency is nearly always to go to the right. The result is an embarrassing shuffle, as both people change direction to avoid clashing, stop and change direction again, give up and both stop for one of those polite
‘No, you go,’ moments which are so familiar to me. Similar things happen with social kissing and hand-shaking; simple traditions which require a leftie to THINK and over-ride their natural tendencies, leaving us in a constant state of mild social anxiety.
Realising that I had been at a slight disadvantage my whole life, I decided to redress the balance by buying some left-handed goods. The left-handed tin opener and potato peeler were brilliant, making life much easier for me and much more difficult for the right-handed people in the house. It was very amusing to watch them struggle to use them, and to say
‘You see, that’s what it’s like for me ALL THE TIME. That’s why I’m clumsy! That’s why we need plasters on standby every time I peel a vegetable!’
The left-handed scissors, however, were beyond me. Having learned to use right-handed ones in childhood, I could not work out how to cut with the other hand. To some extent, I have become ambidextrous and will always be stuck in some strange no-man’s land where I will always be slightly confused over which hand to use, a little clumsy and somewhat socially challenged. However, I am lucky that I was never forced to use my right hand for everything, as we now know that this is the cause of major problems such as severe dyslexia in children.
As for luck – I can see why being left-handed may be thought of as unlucky; in a right-handed world, a leftie can cause havoc simply by confusing everybody else. I can mix up an entire table with regards to whose drink is whose, with my habit of putting my glass on my left instead of on my right. When I remember, I try to swap but this conversation
‘Sorry, is that your drink? I had two drinks here, so I passed one down to the next person. Oh, that was yours?’ is very familiar to me. Losing my drink has nothing to do with luck; I’m simply a left-handed person in a right-handed world.
Having flouted superstition all my life simply by just ‘being’, Friday 13th 2013 holds no fear for me.
How about you? Are you superstitious? Or left-handed? Does the layout of this blog feel ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ to you?