By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
I realized lying awake one morning about 4:30 that I played the air guitar left-handed. Or maybe not.
Since I couldn’t sleep I was thinking about column ideas and I recalled a story on handedness and how science was trying to figure out what makes you right- or left-handed.
The article interested me because it talked about people who are mixed, or ambidextrous, possibly tended to be more creative. I myself tend toward ambidextrousness. I’m still a definite right-hander but some things just work better on the left, usually things being done with both hands.
I always picked up a hoe, rake or shovel and used it on the left side. Likewise I shoot pool left-handed. Both are something I never noticed until someone pointed it out. I think my dad was left-handed with a hoe but he shot pool on his right — and shot it well. I could shoot pool pretty well with either hand but if I was trying to hustle someone I would start right and switch to left.
Baseball is pretty easy for me to do with either hand, batting or throwing. I was far better from the right side because that’s where I always hit from. I think if I had decided early on to hit lefty I would have been the same lousy contact hitter from that side of the plate.
I played handball for years and one of the things I always liked about the game was that you used both your right and left. People who could overcome their tendency to be dominant with one arm or the other were usually better at the game and learned quickly.
I definitely had to work hard to make my left better in handball and it never was as strong as the right but I eventually got pretty good with it. It was hard to tell whether a really good player was left- or right-handed in that sport and that’s what I aspired to.
Other things that never made much difference which side I approached them from include holding a fork or spoon. I have always used the left to feed my face, especially if I’m using a knife. I always figured why put down the knife just to move the food to the mouth. I’m also a little weird here in that balancing a fork or spoon as Emily Post would have me do it is somehow difficult for me. I still grip a fork like a bat or golf club like little kids do.
I never had too much problem shooting a rifle or shotgun with my left and when I was shooting trap regularly I would shoot a round left-handed just for fun frequently. That never caught on though and probably won’t since left-handed firearms are harder to come by.
One side note, my brother started out shooting rifles and shotguns from the right side but sighted with the left eye. He wasn’t bad that way either. I think he switched after he blacked a few eyes leaning out over the stock of big-bore rifles.
About that air guitar, though. The article said that Jimi Hendrix, famous for playing a right-handed guitar left-handed also wrote with his right hand. Further proof maybe of the creative talents of the ambidextrous.
Alas, when I woke from my fog that morning I questioned whether I was correct in my assumption that my air guitar was left-handed. I work the frets left-handed but a quick check of VH1 revealed that so do other right-handers.
I think my air guitar will sound just as good from the other side though — from now on I vow to only play left-handed like Jimi.
Karl Terry is the managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. He can be contacted at 356-4481, ext. 33, or by e-mail: