And it concludes with a startling confession.
Interest tweaked? If so, read on.
I was born a natural lefty, and because my parents were forward-thinking and my teachers well ahead of their time in helping develop the children in their charge, no one tried to change me. My left-handedness remained unchained, and free to explore.
By the time second grade rolled around, I managed to be declared exempt from trying to learn how to write cursive English. I made a valiant attempt, but as soon as I had written a word with my trusty yellow Ticonderoga #2 pencil, left hand curled deftly around its multi-sided length, thumb tucked under index finger instead of pointed forward with second digit as is proper, everything I wrote was promptly smeared. The cause came from guiding the edge of my hand forward in my effort to write. Instead of elevating it slightly above the paper, as a right-hander might do, I slid it along behind my penciled entries, sweeping everything before it like a human Zamboni machine.
The result was a mess. But our teacher Miss Jesse took pity on me, and from that day forward, I printed everything, just as I do today.
I’ve heard countless times over the years that if you’re naturally left-handed, you run the risk of becoming slightly bonkers or somehow connected to Lucifer himself. Fairly young when first faced with this news, I wasn’t terribly impressed. In fact I recall vaguely declaring that my “disability” was to be carried as a medal, which in turn made me and my fellow lefties feelspecial.
Born of the devil? Never.
(Note: For the record, I’m not completely left-handed. I write and eat with my left, but play(ed) all sports right-handed, which means my right side dominates just about everything else I do.)
Early on in my career as a child, I sucked my thumb. Luckily, this post-breast feeding habit wasn’t given the chance to develop into something that affected me psychologically, but for about a year, my right thumb looked fairly puny, having been kept moist—and hidden from the light of day, by residing most of its waking hours inside my mouth.
To rid me of this habit my enterprising mother made an interesting purchase. At a notions store, she bought a small box of little multi-colored adhesive “stars.” About half the size of a penny, they came in blue, red, white and gold, each having a self-adhesive stickum on the back.
Mom explained to me that for every day I could go without tongue-massaging the primary digit extending from my left hand, she would place one of these stars on the calendar that had hung on the wall next to the refrigerator. Accepting this challenge was a positive sign of progress, and with a little bling attached.
I don’t know why, but I was immediately transfixed by those sticky little stars. And while unable to execute a 360 and cold turkey my baby bad habit, the gambit eventually worked, gaining strength daily, with each star indicating the percentage of progress, depending on color. Receiving a gold star meant keeping my mouth clear of thumbs for the previous 24 hours.
In less than a month I had become a member of “suckers anonymous.” My left thumb now matched my right, in size, shape and hue. But I remained hooked on those stars, and would consult the kitchen calendar frequently, to review my escape from addiction. With Mom’s help, I had created my own version of Starry Night, a visual example of how these daily heaven-like, multi-colored objects returned me safely from the thumb-sucking brink.
And so to my confession: I’m still fascinated by colorful little stickers, such as those found most always on fruits and veggies we buy at the grocery store. And prior to consuming a banana or other fruit, I carefully peel off the sticker attached that says “Chiquita,” other brand name or product barcode--and place it on top of the nearest box of cereal. When the cereal has been consumed, I have no problems pitching the box into our recycling bin—but in between, I look often to see how many stickers I have placed on top of my current box of cereal, and in a small way, marvel once again at my “reward.”
Please don’t tell anyone about this…