Sunday, August 8, 2010

Leading Off And Playing Shortstop, Lieutenant Sulu

Yesterday, while watching a baseball game, I had one of those realizations that other people don't need to have because they have brains.

I think I had a brain once, but I misplaced it.

The realization was when baseball players indicate that there are two outs (which they do with their index finger and pinkie spread and their middle two fingers touching each other), they do so with their throwing hands, which are their dominant hands. It'd be kind of silly for them to do it with the hand that's in their glove (that's the part people with brains realize without thinking).

I've been aware for a very long time that I can do the Live Long And Prosper gesture from Star Trek a whole lot better with my left hand than with my right. So I started indicating two outs, and that too, I could do a lot more successfully left handed than right handed (see all those nifty self-portrait photographs).

This got me wondering, as I have in the past, whether I am a natural lefty, or even more likely, a natural neither (or maybe both).

I do everything right handed, and I have no memory of switching hands. I remember every injustice I suffered in kindergarten, and I'm sure if my teacher had made me go from left to right handed, I'd still be sulking about it.

But I also know that I could only tell which was my right hand and which was my left by wearing a ring on my right hand and a watch on my left, and that when I played baseball as a kid, I could never remember which side of the plate I was supposed to stand on. When my friend Christy taught me how to crochet while facing me, I learned mirror image and stitched with my left hand (Christy thought that was very funny, and I promptly started crocheting right handed, because I am extremely sensitive to peer group pressure).

So yesterday, in search of answers to this lifelong question, I went to Google. I learned the history of Live Long And Prosper. Note how well Mr. Spock does it with his right hand.

And while I didn't learn the history of the two men out gesture (trust me, you don't want to Google "two men out"), I found this fabulous left hand/right hand hit the dot test, which I did both yesterday and today and got identical scores on (24 right, 14 left). I'm not sure what that means, except that I'm consistent in my successes and failures.

A number of years ago, there was a wonderful article in The New Yorker about twins. The article said lots of pregnancies start out as twins, and many of them terminate almost immediately, and some terminate with one fetus living and one not, and that since identical twins can be mirror image (one right handed, the other left), it could be that left handed people started out as twins but the righty didn't make it. Whether that's true or not, it's a nifty image, and you'll never look at left handed people the same way (and if you are left handed, well, you'll never look at yourself the same way, until you forget about this blog entry, which will probably be immediately if your brain is any way similar to mine, and if it is, you have my condolences).

But given my 24/14 (I must take that test again; I'm certain I could do better next time) and my lefthanded crocheting, I'm starting to wonder if I was one third of a set of triplets when I first began, one lefty, one righty, and me in the middle.

If that's true, then my poor mother. I'm sure it would have been much easier for her to have the All Righty Susan Beth Pfeffer or the All Lefty Susan Beth Pfeffer than the All Mixed Up Susan Beth Pfeffer she's been stuck with for so many decades!


Linda Jacobs said...

My mom was forced to switch from her left hand to her right when she started school. My dad was a righty. Of their four kids two are lefties and two are righties, including me...except I deal cards with my left hand and drive with my left.

Anyhoo, can you do this? Hold one hand up with the palm facing you, fingers pointing to the ceiling. With your other hand, hold the tips of the index, middle, and ring fingers. Now, try to bend your pinkie forward. I can do it with my right hand but not my left.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Linda Jacobs-

I am terrible at following directions, so I'm not sure if I did it right or wrong or if my pinkies bent forward properly or not (they did seem to like to have the ring fingers bend alongside, I noticed).

Anyway, I doubt I have a future as either a baseball player or a Vulcan!

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what made me think of this, but will we ever see a, "Summers at Livingston Manor?"

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello Anonymous-

For those of you who don't know (which is pretty much everybody), my family owned a summer house in Livingston Manor, NY (in the Catskills). I spent just about all my summers there until I sold the house a few years ago.

It was a wonderful place, if you didn't mind certain inconvenieces (like running out of water, almost every summer).

But no, there are no plans for a "Summers In Livingston Manor!"

Anonymous said...

Oh, I seem to have the same problem. I'm a righty for writing, but a lefty for everything but typing (I use both hands for that). To sprout off of the Vulcan thing I found this quiz online that tells you what you are in Star Trek. Here it is:
I am a Vulcan (too bad I can only do Live Long and Prosper with my left hand. Is that some kind of disrespect doing that with the wrong hand?)

~~Sunshine :-)

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Sunshine-

I'm The Federation! I never would have known that if you hadn't provided that link.

By the way, The Federation can spell a lot better than the person who created that quiz.

Anonymous said...

The Livingston Manor reference appeared on either the book trailer website, or something connected -- so many people do now know about it.

Of course, you are watching the Perseids Meteor Shower this week, in keeping with the celestial themes.

Kay Richardson said...

Hey, I'd like to shake them there hands.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Kay Richardson-

I have a firm, Federation style, handshake!

Anonymous said...

hey! I'm Federation too. xD
I can also do the pinky thing w/ both hands...
That's interesting (the twins idea) I'll have to tell my lefty friends. xD
I remember when I found out I could do things better w/ my left hand. (i.e. snap, live long.., etc. I am a righty) So I asked my friend about it he was at the time wiping the table after dinner and showed me that while he was wiping w/ his right hand, he was snapping with his left. He did this a lot, making him able to do similar things easier w/ his left hand, since he right hand was occupied... does that make sense at all?

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Naomi-

I've just tried finger snapping, and I seem to do it equally well on both hands but it seems to have a higher pitch on my right hand than my left.

I guess my right hand is a soprano and my left an alto!