It wasn’t my idea to be left-handed; at least, I don’t think it was. I remember the first time it really became an issue. I was probably about three. It was late afternoon on a Sunday and we were visiting my grandparents. As always, I raided my Grandma’s extensive pen collection, searching for the perfect creative implement. I knelt there on her dining room chair and, on a notepad I swiped from the desk, let the muse of imagery move me. It wasn’t long before I was abruptly interrupted by the complete and utter, not to mention loud, disapproval of my elder.
What did I do? My mind raced as my heart sank. I made sure I hadn’t drawn on the tablecloth. I had asked my mom if I could draw on that paper. What did I do wrong? My grandma came over to me and took the pen from my hanhrd. I swallowed hard. Then, she placed it in my other hand, in the proper grip. “There”, She said, “Now, you write correctly.”
“What are you, nuts?” I thought. “That hand sucks!” I couldn’t even draw a straight line. Besides, it felt weird.
My Mom stuck up for me. “Let him do it his way,” she said.
Even my Dad stuck up for me, sorta. He said, “Oh, leave him alone Ma, they’ll fix it in school.”
Well, they never did fix it in school and I’m better off for it. Except for the fact that I can’t operate my leaf blower or a common pair of scissors with my dominant hand. To top it off, of all the instruments I could have fallen in love with, I had to pick the guitar. Didn’t I know that stringed instruments were intended for right-handed use only? I was in fifth grade when I realized it. My friend laughed when I picked up his guitar and started strumming it upside down.
“You can’t play like that,” he sneered. He took the guitar and handed it back to me the other way around. “There,” he said, “now you can play correctly.”
BZZZZZZZZZZT. Wrong answer. I handed him back the guitar and said, “Forget it.”
I didn’t touch a guitar again for another six years. At sixteen, I took my sister’s old classical from the basement and figured out a couple of melodies on it upside down. By the books she had, I gathered I had things backward and I reversed the strings. AHHH, the angels sung as I strummed my first “E” chord. (Hey, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!)
Now, all I needed was a few lessons and I’d be on my way to rock star greatness. I signed up at the local music store and went in for an evaluation with my new teacher. When I picked up my guitar to play, He said, “Uh uh, that’s not gonna work, you have to turn it back over.”
“But I’m left handed,” I replied.
“You haven’t been playing very long, so it should be easy to change over.” He continued, “Besides, your stronger hand will be on the frets.”
I wanted to say, “Then why don’t you play lefty?” though what I said was, “But this feels better. I can strum with the beat when I use my left hand. I have no rhythm in my right hand.”
“If you won’t play correctly, then I can’t teach you,” he stubbornly announced. “We’ll have to find you another teacher.”
I was shuffled into another lesson room where, thanks to some planetary alignment or something, I was introduced to the coolest teacher a kid coulda asked for. He saw that I just wanted to play.
If this sounds familiar, you’re left handed. Really. And, if you’re left handed, you know what I’m talking about when I say it sucks walking into a music store and finding maybe one guitar out of a hundred to play. And if you do find one, it’s usually a bottom of the line cheapo. What’s the thought process behind that? Don’t lefties continue to play long enough to require better instrumentation? “If you want something else, we can special order it for you,” they always say. Well, guess what? Lefties get G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) too, and when I’m in the mood to spend, look out.
That’s why I think God invented the Internet. We’re no longer limited to what Local Joe Music has to offer. We have the whole virtual world at our fingertips. That is, as long as you have a few hours to kill poking around in the search engines. Now, I know that sounds like fun, but because my handedness has forged me into a cynical pessimistic killjoy, I decided to change all that. I launched LeftyGuitar.com. It’s our new virtual home where we can play anyway we want. We shouldn’t have to waste our time anymore searching the world over, nor should we have to pay exorbitant prices just cause we’re cross-hemisphered. Let them come to us! Viva La Lefty!