Robert Hitt Neill Column
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Changing hands can be dangerous
I was doing some storytelling at a Youth Art Camp last week up at the Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State, and during lunch happened to sit across from a co-ed counselor.
Since the next day was scheduled to be Friday The Thirteenth, the subject naturally got around to bad luck. Some people don’t believe in luck, good or bad, someone pointed out. The co-ed heard me mutter something like, “Yeah, and you ain’t got over 21 broke bones, either.”
She reached across the table to catch my eye and mouthed, “You’ve got 21? Why, I’ve got 14 myself!”
“Were you in a bad car wreck or something?” I asked.
“No, I’ve just been a klutz all my life,” she shrugged. “Is that how you got all yours – in a wreck?”
“Nah, I broke four vertebrae in a wreck right after I got out of the Navy, but I mostly just break one, maybe two at a time on a regular basis. I’ve also had 14 major joint injuries besides the 21 broken bones,” I noted. “Plus five concussions, being struck three times by lightning and three times by poisonous snakes, and a few other little things like Lyme Disease and brown recluse spider bites. Some folks obviously don’t believe in bad luck, but I ain’t planning on getting out of bed tomorrow for Friday The 13th.”
The co-ed agreed: “I’m planning on being especially careful tomorrow, but I have to work with these kids. I’ll keep my fingers crossed the whole day, though. Wonder why some people have good luck and some have bad luck?”
“Well, let me ask: are you right-handed, or left-handed?” She held up her right hand in answer. “Then, when you were young did your parents switch you from your left hand? Like, sort of trained you to be right-handed?” I continued.
“I don’t know,” she shrugged again.”I was adopted when I was eight, so I have no idea what my biological parents might have done when I was a baby. Why do you ask?”
I shoved across a scrap of paper and handed her my pen.
“Write ‘Mary had a little lamb’ on that for me,” I requested. She frowned, but did that and shoved the paper back to me. I nodded in understanding: her letters slanted almost backward for a right-handed writer, just like my own writing does.
“See, your writing shows a tendency toward left-handedness, even though you are writing right-handed. It’s a right-brain function. When I was an infant, they told me that my left-handed mother declared that she was not going to raise a child of hers to be wrong-handed in a right-handed world. So whenever I’d pick up something with my left hand, she’d take it away, put it in my right hand, and spank my left hand. She meant well, I know, but a medical study released five years ago shows that people who have been changed from one hand to the other, for any reason up to and including amputation, are ten times more accident-prone than the general population. I’ll bet you were changed when you were young too.”
At this writing, I don’t know if the girl made it through Friday The 13th okay or not, but I survived it. But here’s the point: if your kid shows a left-handed tendency, let him or her alone with it. It’s okay. The Bible even speaks of left-handed warriors, so it would seem that southpawism is God-given, an assertion that most baseball managers would agree on, I’m sure. Matter of fact, left-handed pitchers go at a premium these days, so if your little boy is a lefty, give him a baseball in his crib! He just may put himself through college thataway.
But if he’s a righty, don’t change him over, either. The curse works both ways. Whatever handed your kid is, let it be. It’ll save lots of money on casts and stitches during his or her lifetime. If I was a betting man, I’d have bet that all the rest of the people at B-PAC that day couldn’t have come up with over 35 broken bones between them all, like me and the co-ed across the table had!