Correct Me If I’m Wrong

by Chris de Serres


When you’re left-handed you grow up feeling like you’re clumsy.  The world just isn’t created for you.  My mother was left-handed, but she was taught early on to do things the “correct way.”

In grade school we didn’t have left-handed desks, so I always had a little more trouble.  My arm would get tired, writing assignments with no support.  When we write, we push the pen rather than trail it like right-handers do.  Pens are constructed to be trailed, so my pens never seemed to work right.  The ink always came out spotty and inconsistent.  I realized later that a space pen was the only one that worked well because it was pressurized to release ink.

The pushing of the pen and my hand along the page meant I had to take alot of breaks in between paragraphs. This was a nightmare for me when we had to take written tests in class.  I was almost always the last to finish.  Fighting through as my hand got tired and my fingers went numb.

The direction of writing is left to right.  This results in my smearing the fresh ink with the side of my hand.  So any writing assignment looked incredibly messy.

There was always the dreaded scissor issue.  Teachers would hand me the scissors.  Then hand me another one.  Then another.  None of them seem to cut properly.  Those that were built with a hole for the right-handers thumb were impossible.

In sports, the other kids hating playing with me because I did everything the opposite way that they were used to.  I had advantages, especially in tennis.  I could rip a forehand directly to a right-handers backhanded side.  This was the weak link in every right-handers game.  Of course they could do the same to me if they wised up fast enough.  My left-hand was always a secret weapon during pickup basketball games.  After a game or two, a smarter opponent would always say,”Watch him! He goes to the left!”

It wasn’t all bad, but ergonomically our world is not built for me.  I can’t count the number of accidents, bumps, bruises, and injuries I incurred just because I was somewhere or using something that wasn’t right.  Learning to play the guitar was one big mindfuck.  Jimi Hendrix famously turned his guitar upside down and played it backwards.  I eventually learned to play right-handed.

When my daughter was born we realized over time that she too was left-handed.  Much of what I write about here I didn’t know about until she came to us.  Often it’s the small victories and defeats in early life that guide us in the direction we were meant to go.  I want my daughter to know what being left-handed means, and that there are other options for her.  She can have a left-handed desk, pen, and accomodations can be made for handedness.

I can’t remember a single adult pulling me to the side and pointing this out to me or making some accomodation.

Maybe it matters less in today’s world of IPads and Laptops in school.  It will always matter though.  In table tennis, like in life, the good one’s go left and we aren’t correcting it for anyone.