Joan of Arc had a bigger problem than being burned at the stake. She was left-handed.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

OK, maybe being burned at the stake is a tad more disturbing than being a southpaw. Yet being left-handed still has its drawbacks in a right-handed universe.

Left-handedness has come a long way – we’re no longer paddled at school every time we pick up a pencil – but discrimination is clearly evident, even today.

The struggle starts in the classroom. The left-handed scissors are always the rusty, crummy pair stuck with some type of goo to the bottom of the craft box.

Pencils smear as our left hand drags through the graphite across the page. The notebook spiral digs into our forearm, gets in the way.

And never mind trying to successfully take a test on those right-handed wooden desk platforms in auditoriums or those attached to plastic chairs that pass themselves off as desks.

The last straw comes when we’re stuck with right-handed rulers, with the scale running in the opposite direction. So we drop out of school.

We decide to get a career in sports or music, neither of which matters if we never finished our education. Here we are readily outfitted with mitts, golf clubs and guitars – geared for the right-handed player.

“Whaddya mean I have to restring the whole thing just so you can try some Hendrix?”

Never mind, we say. We’ll make ourselves feel better by fixing ourselves something to eat – yet the right-handed kitchen brings us grief. Can openers and potato peelers slip from our fingers. We have to wear some oven mitts backwards or sideways, upside down.

Even measuring cups and coffee mugs are right-handed. Both display either the measurements or the fancy little design on the mug’s side so they are visible for the right-handed person.

Doesn’t matter. No one wants to sit at the dinner table next to us, anyway, as our elbow is always warring with the right-handed eater.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

It makes us frustrated enough to want to shoot something. But, alas, we are faced with right-handed rifles. Thankfully machetes are equally effective in either paw.

Top all this off with the negative associations that come with the left – like the devil. It’s his domain. He even baptized people with his left hand.

The left side is known as the evil side.

We throw salt over our left shoulders to ward off the demonic spirits that lurk there. If our left palm itches, we will lose money. If our left ear rings, someone is saying something very bad and ugly about us.

Pour wine with your left hand and it’s like you’re pouring a round of bad luck. Make a left-handed toast and you are cursing the person you are toasting.

Heck, if we get out of bed with our left foot first, we’re supposed to have the worst day imaginable.

Some say we left-handed folks are more creative and smarter – but kookier or more eccentric – than our right-handed counterparts.

Just please refrain from burning us at the stake.


A to Z (more or less) of famous left-handed folks:

Alexander the Great

Boston Strangler, Barack Obama

Cobain, Kurt

Da Vinci, Leonardo

Escher, M.C.

Fidel Castro

Greta Garbo

Helen Keller

Isaac Hayes

Jack the Ripper, Jimi Hendrix

Kermit the Frog

Lydon, John – aka Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols fame

Marilyn Monroe, Michaelangelo, Marcel Marceau (ew!)

Napoleon Bonaparte

Oscar de la Hoya

Pryor, Richard

Queen Victoria of England

Robert Plant, Ramses II

Savalas, Telly

Tiny Tim

Uri Geller

Van Beethoven, Ludwig

Wells, H.G., Wookie Choobaka

X – anyone?

Yrjana, Aki W. – musician

Z, Jay – as in Jay-Z

Primary sources: Indiana University,


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who writes, draws, paints, tattoos, eats and plays what little bad guitar she plays with her left hand yet has adapted to do other things with her right. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at and E-mail

wb-logolilWhat do you think?

What other products or designs are a struggle for left-handed folks?